The right way to make Cantonese-Canadian consolation meals: Flo Leung shares Grandma’s steamed fish and different recipes in her new cookbook

The pandemic has made us all crave consolation and nostalgia; for Flo Leung, Toronto-based meals illustrator and one half of the takeout kitchen/studio Noble House, it led to a sentimental facet undertaking, too. Unable to assemble across the dinner desk together with her mom, Nancy, she started texting for tips about the way to make the acquainted dishes she missed. “By the third recipe, she requested, ‘Are you writing these down?’” recollects Leung, who went to cooking faculty and labored in eating places earlier than stepping into meals styling and artwork.

The result’s “Family Meals: Comfort Food Cooking, Vol. 1,” a slender quantity of cherished, homey Cantonese-Canadian dishes they’d’ve in any other case been consuming collectively. Recipes embrace steamed rooster with wooden ear mushrooms and lily flowers (described as an specific ticket again to “afternoons of piano classes and recollections of home-cut bangs”), a one-pot model of lo mai fan (sticky rice with Chinese language sausage), and Grandma’s steamed fish (a basic take, save for the addition of pink dates).

"Family Meals: Comfort Food Cooking, Vol. 1," by Flo and Nancy Leung, Berkinshaw Press, 40 pages, $25.

Launched in January, it’s the primary guide from their very own publishing enterprise, Berkinshaw Press, which can deal with small-batch recipe collections impressed by household meals. “My mum thought it might be enjoyable, as one thing we might do collectively,” explains Leung. “Berkinshaw was the title of the road my childhood dwelling was on.” One other throwback element: the ’70s-style textured picture on the quilt was scanned from the fabric of an outdated household album.

Leung and her mom dealt with all of the recipe improvement, which known as for a inventive workaround. “I spotted she did her measurements in accordance with the really feel of a selected dish,” says Leung. “So I went out and acquired a copycat one — a white ceramic dish painted with a blue fish — and tried to translate.” Style-testing was an even bigger household affair, involving Leung’s chef husband and the opposite half of Noble Home, Dusty Gallagher, and their seven-year-old, Ava.

From top: Flo's mom and dad, Nancy and Alfred; Nancy and Ava eating noodles; Ava, Flo and Dusty enjoying hot pot; Nancy, Ava and Flo (with dearly missed pooch Po).

“That’s one of many nicer issues to come back out of the cookbook,” says Leung. “Ava is a child who usually likes mac and cheese and butter noodles. (In recipe testing) we had the steamed fish with pink dates, and it was the primary time she’d had it since she was a child. And she or he was like, ‘Oh, that is actually good!’ It’s good to have the ability to share these dishes and get to know them once more.”

An archival photo of mom Nancy, with Flo as a kid.

Grandma’s Steamed Fish with Pink Dates, Shiitake and Floor Bean Sauce

“This model of steamed fish is expensive to my mother, as her mom preferred so as to add bonus pink dates and mushrooms to the already great-as-it-is basic preparation.”

For the fish

  • 5 dried shiitake mushrooms
  • 8 dried pink dates
  • 1 to 1 1/2 lb complete recent fish, scaled and cleaned (grouper, sea bream, pink snapper and tilapia are good)

For the sauce

  • 2 tsp (10 mL) floor bean sauce (we like Fu Chi model)
  • 1 tsp (5 mL) gentle soy sauce
  • 1 tsp (5 mL) cooking wine
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp sugar
  • 2 tsp (10 mL) vegetable oil
  • 1 tbsp (15 mL) cornstarch

To complete

  • 2 finely sliced inexperienced onions
  • 3 tbsp (45 mL) finely sliced ginger
  • 3-ish tbsp (about 45 mL) vegetable oil
  • recent coriander sprigs
  • 1 tbsp (15 mL) gentle soy

Put together dried substances. Dates: minimize in half and take away pits. Soak dates in heat water till comfortable, at the very least 2 hours to in a single day. Shiitake: soak in heat water till comfortable. Trim away powerful stems, minimize caps into skinny slices.

Put together steamer setup. For fish, we use a big roasting pan with a raised lid and a wire rack. Fill water slightly below rack stage and set to light simmer on stovetop ingredient.

In a small bowl, combine sauce substances collectively till clean. Place fish on heat-safe platter. Spoon sauce in cavity and flippantly over physique. Organize ready dates and mushrooms round fish.

Place platter in steamer and canopy. Gently steam till fish is simply cooked by — a paring knife will simply cross by the thickest a part of the physique, simply behind the top. Begin checking after 10 to 12 minutes. Fastidiously take away platter from steamer.

To complete, garnish fish with inexperienced onion and ginger. Warmth vegetable oil in a small pot till shimmering sizzling (to check: a fastidiously dropped sliver of ginger will sizzle instantly) and pour over garnished fish. High with coriander, drizzle gentle soy over and serve immediately with loads of rice.

Serves 2 generously as a foremost dish, or 3 to 4 as half of a bigger meal.

Recipe excerpted with permission from “Family Meals: Comfort Food Cooking, Vol. 1,” by Flo and Nancy Leung.


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