No doubt about it, Mr. Wu has a way with shrimp. Nay, he has many, many ways with shrimp.
Let me count the ways. Or better yet, let me show some of them.
The curly pink crustacean of the salty deep is somewhat like chicken in that it is one of those polite foods that takes on the manners of whatever flavor it finds itself sharing company with–a sort of “when in Rome” attitude that makes for a lot of versatility.
This is one of the reasons that I am looking forward to hitching up with tofu when I venture back into my own kitchen. Tofu, too, is mild mannered and likes to absorb what is going on. I think it will make an excellent companion in the future.
So what I am learning about Mr. Wu’s ways with chicken and shrimp will have most excellent applications to tofu.
I am noticing that what makes each dish singular is 1) the different sauce surrounding the shrimp, and 2) the texture, color, and variety of the vegetables that he serves with the shrimp. The emphasis is on everything but the shrimp—sort of like casting a play with actors and actresses who can play well off of each other, and make the ingenue look better than they would had they not been “carried” by the more experienced talent.
I’ve been quite taken by all of this…it’s something I’ve never contemplated before. sure, I’ve thumbed through cookbooks that boast titles like “The Five Ingredient Cookbook” or the even bolder “The Three Ingredient Cookbook”, but as my grandmother would say of unexplainable happenings (somewhat inscrutably herself), “This beats a goose-pecking”.
But I am all about it. I can see real possibilities here for me and my upcoming adventures along the Wu Tao as I begin to cook my own meals. Me and my paring knife are going too be a pair as I slice and dice for variety.
Of course some veggies are presented in their uncut state–like snow peas, which make up for their expense with their amazing readiness to jump into a meal. Just wash and eat–they barely need to see heat–a kiss of the fire and they are good to go!
Green beans, too, take on a different vibe when they aren’t cooked for hours until they turn into a caramelly sweetness laced with smokey bacon…oops, I digress back to my grandmother…that happens at her mention. She was both playmate and muse.I miss her, too. Add Jeah to the list.
(Just as Mr. Wu longs for Mother Wu’s Sticky Rice, I will always have a place in my appetite for southern cooking. I am most intrigued by Miss Bianca’s current project. She is in the process of writing a book of receipts of southern flavor and attitude, and there are a number of her vegan dishes that sound most delish.)
I’m learning that variety does not have to have a genesis in quantity, but in technique and flavor and texture and color. I think most of life follows an artistic path in terms of the principles of art–not because art is great, but because God is good –and the ultimate creator. And just look what He has done with variations on a theme.