須知(1) 先天

豬宜皮薄,英國Scotland著名烤豬店 Oink Scottish Hog Roast的豬皮夠不夠薄呢?

此篇開宗明義說得很清楚。做菜就和做學問一樣,先把所有知識都學好了,再付諸實行,事半功倍。盲目地做,糊里糊塗地做,會花去很多冤枉時間。

此篇談如何挑食材,天性好者,簡單做就得美味。天性差者,名廚來也沒用。豬、雞、魚、鴨、筍、火腿都各有好壞天性,什麼部份該去該留,都有講究。看了此篇,我第一次去買童子雞(未交配前的母雞)。其他如走路雞…,都是偏重於其先天優勢,至於牛排取何種部位更佳,那就是西方人的講究了。

(原文:開篇)

學問之道,先知而後行,飲食亦然

(原文:先天)

凡物各有先天,如人各有資稟。人性下愚,雖孔、孟教之,無益也;物性不良,雖易牙烹之,亦無味也。指其大略︰豬宜皮薄,不可腥臊;雞宜騸嫩,不可老稚;鯽魚以扁身白肚為佳,烏背者,必倔強於盤中;鰻魚以湖溪游泳為貴,江生者,必槎枒其骨節;穀餵之鴨,其膘肥而白色;壅土之筍,其節少而甘鮮;同一火腿也,而好醜判若天淵;同一台也,而美惡分為冰炭。其他雜物,可以類推。大抵一席佳餚,司廚之功居其六,買辦之功居其四。

Introduction:

Learn it by heart, then put it into practice. Cooking follows the same path.

The Nature of Food

Human beings are born with individual traits, just as every food has its natural qualities and uses. The great teachers, such as Confucius and Mencius, can’t turn a dim-witted student into a scholar, and neither can an inferior ingredient be made great, even one handled by Yi Ya, the legendary chef in history.

Here are the ingredients that are good by nature: 

Pigs with thinner skin tend to have less unpleasant, raw, and meaty smell.

Castrated or poussin chickens tend to render more tender meat. Too old or too young a bird is not as good.

Carps with flat bodies and white bellies are better than black-skinned ones, which  would appear hard and stiff on the plates. 

Eels from lakes and streams are more desirable. Eels from rivers tend to have tangled, connected bones that could be a hassle.  

Grain-fed ducks are plump and white.

Bamboo shoots sprouting from enriched soil have fewer ridges and taste fresher and sweeter.  

Fine ham and mediocre ones look as different as the sky and a canyon.

The quality of dried fish fillet could be as different as ice and burning coals. 

Overall, a great feast owes 60% of its success to the chef, and 40% to the food buyer.

走向世界

鰻魚以湖溪游泳為貴」 ,這句話荷蘭人一定最同意。荷蘭因國土三分之一低於海平面,天然及自然水道非常多,成為鰻魚自然生態區。此魚生在海洋,成長期游回淡水的湖、河、溪、運河等,所以荷蘭的鰻魚好吃,袁枚早就背書了。數量多又易捕捉,何不就地取材呢?

雖說世界各地都在吃鰻魚,亞洲人吃得更多,但當我路過阿姆斯特丹,在攤子前買煙燻鰻魚,整條拿起來放在嘴裡的這種「豪氣」,可比我在日本餐館裡小心戒慎地吃饅魚飯或鰻魚壽司過癮多了。 煙燻鰻魚約等於台灣的鯊魚煙,是有特色又受歡迎的庶民美食,說貴不貴(生買一條四歐元),說便宜也不便宜,有觀光客的地方就有它。把魚切斷夾在麵包裡也是很好的小點心。

就像其他熱門魚種一樣,荷蘭鰻魚數也銳減,現在每年只開放四個月讓人捕捉。美國曾在十九世紀瘋鰻魚,如今已不流行。

此照片攝於2021年六月,在阿姆斯特丹豪宅區附近的美食天地,文字寫的是:「本地野獲特產:新鮮、誠實、天然。」
註解

此文有一冷僻字,下為百度百科的解釋:
鲞,是一个汉字,拼音是xiǎng ,本义为剖开晾干的鱼,后泛指成片的腌腊食品。

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