須知(2)作料

若不是各文化各有喜愛的作料,全世界的食物就都是一個口味了。

作料很重要,不言可喻,而在袁枚眼中,作料不僅要選對種類,作料本身的質量也要講究。作料之於食物,就如人要衣裝,在選美大會上,天生佳麗也要有造型師的配合,才能一舉奪冠。不過若造型師品味不佳,選用俗氣的服飾,佳麗還是會敗下陣來。

原文:須知作料

厨者之作料,如妇人之衣服首饰也。虽有天姿,虽善涂抹,而敝衣蓝缕,西子亦难以为容。善烹调者,酱用伏酱,先尝甘否;油用香油,须审生熟;酒用酒酿,应去糟粕;醋用米醋,须求清冽。且酱有清浓之分,油有荤素之别,酒有酸甜之异,醋有陈新之殊,不可丝毫错误。其他葱、椒、姜、 桂、糖、盐,虽用之不多,而俱宜选择上品。苏州店卖秋油,有上、中、下三等。镇江醋颜色虽佳,味不甚酸,失醋之本旨矣。以板浦醋为第一,浦口醋次之。

Condiments are to food as accessories are to women. Imagine Xishi (a legendary beauty in ancient China) dressed in rags. It would spoil her splendor even with her natural beauty and fine makeup.

An experienced cook would use soy sauce fermented in the summer for its sweetness. Choose raw or roasted fragrant oils discreetly. Select only the wined rice that’s free of bran. Cook with rice vinegar that’s clear.

Note the nuanced differences between the following:

light and thick soy sauce; animal fat and vegetable oil; sweet and sour cooking wine; aged and new vinegar.  All of these differences are not to be looked over. 

For other familiar condiments, such as green onions, chili peppers, ginger, cinnamon, sugar and salt, although used in small amounts, quality ones are still worth looking for. In searching for quality condiments I found some famous and good ones. Yet to my surprise, one famous vinegar, Zhenjiang, which has a beautiful color, was too mild to be even called a “vinegar”.   

世界觀
羊排邊舖一層pistachios, 又增加香味,又有果仁碎感,是不是好的作料?(food: Melvin, photo: Jullian)
私記
  1. 西子即春秋吳越時代的美麗奇女子西施
  2. Zhenjiang Vinegar-鎮江醋,至今仍是大家廣用的名牌,竟被袁枚評為連做「醋」的資格都沒有,頗令人詫異。
  3. 英譯省略當時幾個店名品牌「苏州店卖秋油,有上、中、下三等。以板浦醋为第一,浦口醋次之」。

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