The Day Off

Chen Sifu crossed the intersection, between the supermarket and the house-turned-dormitory where local restaurant owners rented rooms, to house help they hired from The City. The October air was cold. The wind cut. Chen zipped his jacket up to his chin, and burrowed his neck deep into the thin cotton. He hustled towards the supermarket. His pace gave away the discomfort that his facial expression didn’t reval. It was impassive, as always. Closed, wide lips. Round eyes that registered surprise or excitement only after a 2-second delay, as if hooked up by loose connections. He wore that same expression while
Continue reading...

Tempura

“It looks easy,” Frank told me as he moved the circular, steel mesh strainer through the vegetable oil, scooping out the tempura flakes clumped together like bunches of oats. “But tempura takes some of the greatest skill in Japanese cooking.” He switched to the rectangular strainer – a squirrel-sized hockey stick, with a steel mesh blade instead of wood. He dipped it into the yellow oil, and lifted it out, covering the surface with an even layer of tempura flakes. His left hand reached across his body, and with two quick plunges into the white batter, coated the long strip
Continue reading...

Heart

“When Old Man cook, it more tasty, right?” Danny glanced at me. We sat at the bar. He was hunched over his dinner: white rice, beef cooked in oyster sauce and Chinese cabbage. I took another bite. I was sympathetic to Chen Sifu’s cooking, since I’d been told my own cooking was pretty bland. But Danny was right; whenever Chen Sifu cooked, it required hibachi hot mustard to make it an enjoyable experience. I nodded. “Yeah. See, this guy, no good.” He shook his head, then glared at the contents of his bowl. “I think no one teach him. He
Continue reading...