There is a children song in China, we all had sung when we were little. It goes like this (in English), ‘looking for a friend, looking for a friend, find a good friend, salute, shake hand…’ We would hold hands make it a circle, and sing this song. One person would start the game by running along the circle to ‘look for a friend’, when he ‘finds’ a friend, they would shake hands and swap the place, the ‘new friend’ would start running along the circle to ‘look for a friend’ as the song starts again. In the end, we are all ‘good friends’. It was just a game, but I was so worried that I would never got picked as a ‘friend’, I was also too shy to ask to be a ‘friend’. But I have never realized that how difficult to find a friend, it seemed so natural to have friends in the class, or with neighbors…
But in a different country, and at different age, it seems the old ‘natural’ rules do not apply anymore. Did I tell you the story when in my MA course, Zhenya came to me after the class with a little note with her number and address on it, then we became friends? It reminds me so much when we were little, at innocent age, singing that song, and ask ‘will you be my friend?’
I really miss my friends whom I have been friends with for … almost life, when away from them, realize that how much I treasure!
I am talking about this is because lately I have joined some classes, just realize that I am making some new friends! And I realized that I am not alone in ‘looking for friends’. — This is a big world, you see the crowd rubs your shoulders passing by everyday, but it is funny to say — it is not easy to look for new friends at all. And we are not really designed to be alone here, probably…
Somehow, that song from our childhood keeps on coming to me…
Summer is here in Oxford!! I don’t remember how we jumped from cold ‘late winter’ to hot summer within a week, but it is sunny and hot!! And, no, don’t ask how long this will last, just enjoy! Enjoy the sun, the heat, the food for the summer.:))
So this recipe is just for this rare nice weather — Chinese salad / liang cai with lily mushroom. It is a very popular summer dish in northern China, and very very easy to make.
I probably only mentioned lily mushroom once before. It is a ‘strange’ shaped mushroom comparing to the others. In Chinese it is called ‘jin zhen mo’, as in ‘gold needle mushroom’. In the past, it was only sold in dried version, then it needs to be soaked, cooked with meat, soup or stir fried with other mushroom or vegetables. I don’t remember since when, the fresh lily mushroom version came to the markets. It is usually used in salad (Chinese liang cai) (Fresh ones are probably not good for cooking in stew or with meat, for example). Itself does not have much taste, not as strong as dried version, make it ideal for a light salad dish, and the texture is very interesting.
I saw it sold in England only last year, since Tesco started having more different cultural food on the shelves. And it caught my eyes by those big Chinese characters. Ok… Not exactly the same as it is sold in China, but it is even easier to cook from there.
The popular salad (liang cai) is lily mushroom with cucumber. And the taste is quite simple, a bit sour, a bit sweet, it can be a bit spicy, but it all depends on your taste.
Here you go.
Boiled lily mushroom (I pack), cucumber
Oil, sugar, vinegar, chili oil, salt, sesame oil, MSG/vegetable/ mushroom/ chicken essences (optional).
1) Chop cucumber into thin strips.
2) Rinse the lily mushroom well in the water.
3) In a half heated wok, add in 3 tablespoons of oil, 1 tablespoon of sugar, 1/2 teaspoon of salt, 2 big tablespoon of vinegar, 1/2 teaspoon of MSG/vegetable/ mushroom/ chicken essences (optional).
4) When the sauce in the wok is bubbling, turn off the fire, allow the sauce cool down a little bit, then pour over the mix of cucumber and lily mushroom.
Add in 1 or 2 teaspoons of chili oil, a few drops of sesame oil. —
However, you don’t have to light up the wok if you don’t like. The simple version is just add vinegar, salt, sugar, sesame oil, chili oil, MSG/vegetable/ mushroom/ chicken essences in the mix of cucumber and lily mushroom directly.
Do alter the amount of vinegar, sugar, salt and chili oil to your own taste and according to how much you are making.
As I said, it is perfect for a hot summer dinner, and a good company with beer. :) Hope you are enjoying the weather as well! :)