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Friday, August 20, 2010
When I was living in Guangzhou, China a few years ago, one of my favourite Cantonese dish was what they called Guai Fa Chi (桂花翅) literally translated to mean Osmanthus Sharks Fin. The Osmanthus really denotes the fried eggs used in the dish. Scrambled to golden yellow crumbs, the eggs resemble the tiny flowers of the Osmanthus plant and for those who are not familiar with the Osmanthus flowers, you must , you must try to look for them at Chinese Tea house next time. Less initmidating than rose and more elegant than Jasmine, the sweet, demure fragrance of the Osmanthus is one of my favourite scents.
I have eaten this dish at many restuarants in China - the more glitzy of which would use real shark's fin for this dish while the less fancy eating outlets would substitute the shark's fin with green bean vermicelli, (transparent noodle) 粉丝 another one of my favourite food - thus the name, Poor man's Fried Sharksfin.
Both tastes equally good when done correctly - which really isn't suprising when you consider that Shark's Fin is really tasteless. What is important when substituting with vermicelli though, is to make sure that the transparent noodle does not get over cooked. Softening the noodles excessively will render it brittle and take the 'gelantinous bite' out of it.
A successful attempt at should yield noodles that is fried relatively dry. The bottom of the plate, should not be wet or too oily.
Traditionally, duck eggs would be used to augment the fragrance of the fried eggs. However, this is not accessible to me and therefore I substituted with chicken eggs. Poor Man or otherwise, this is a simple but tasty dish - and since I have chosen to abstain from eating Shark's fins, I couldn't be more happy to be a Poor Man.
Recipe : ( Adapted from 真味香港菜)
Transparent Glass Noodles 50g
Ham (or crab meat) 30g
Bean Sprouts A handful
Salt 1/2 tsp
Chicken Stock 1/2 cup
Oil 1 tbsp
1. Soak transparent glass noodles in cold water for 5-10 mins until softened. Cut the glass noodles with scissors to about 6-7cm.
2. Slice ham into thin strips.
3. Blanch bean sprouts in hot water for 1 min.
4. Break eggs seperately into 2 separate bowls. Season with a little soya sauce.
5. Heat wok and add a little oil. Pour in 1st egg into wok and scramble quickly over low heat with four chopsticks. Remove from heat, dish out and set aside.
6. Heat 1 tbsp oil in heated wok, fry ham until fragrant. Add (1). Fry quickly in the wok. While frying the noodles, slowly add in chicken stock and salt. Simmer a little to let noodles absorb the flavour. Continue to fry until noodles is a little dry.
7. Slowly add in the 2nd egg. Frying to ensure the eggs get cooked and noodles become quite dry.
8. Add bean sprouts and scrambled eggs and fry for another 30sec.
9. Dish out and serve with rice or eat on its own.