Happy Mother’s Day

This is the picture that accompanied the recipe for first meal I ever made my family for dinner; it’s “Fillet Steak Chinese Style” from the Women’s Weekly Chinese Cooking Class Cookbook. I can’t remember how old I was – 13, I think, because my much older sister was living with us that year. The book doesn’t have a publication date or ISBN, but it sold for $3.98.

chinese-beef

The recipe involves pounding sliced fillet steak with a mallet, marinating it for three hours in bicarbonate of soda, sugar, salt, cornflour, soy sauce, oyster sauce and sherry and then cooking it quickly in a large pan with more sherry. As you see from the photo, it is attractively served on a bed of fried onion rings. I’d do it a little differently today, but I can still remember the enormous high I felt when everyone really enjoyed it. Now when I read the recipe I feel very grateful that my mother would let a little kid loose on half kilo piece of fillet steak with a mallet. (It cost a $7.00!)

The kitchen is a sanctuary for me in a way it never was for her – she worked full time, and did almost all of the cooking, but she always encouraged my interest and was happy to explain what she was doing. I loved to sit up on the bench and talk to mum while she was making dinner. She probably only let me sit on the bench once, but I remember it. She’s the kind of mum who gave me a Le Crueset starter set when my first husband* and I set up house, who bought me a Milton Brook mortar and pestle and lugged a Le Crueset terrine half way around Europe as a surprise gift. Lately she’s been giving me Folio Society editions of Elizabeth David’s books, and she snaffled me a 1892 edition of Australian Cookery by M. J. Pearson when cleaning out her brother’s wreck of a house (scroll down here for her recipe for Calves’ Foot Jelly.) I hope she thinks her extravagant gifts have paid off – I’ve cooked her some pretty good dinners. If I’m lucky, my turn will come.

Sage rolling pizza dough

* I believe everyone should have one.

7 comments ↓

#1 ampersand duck on 11.05.08 at 8:22 pm

* But of course, dahling. First husbands are the new black.

#2 Megxx on 12.05.08 at 10:17 am

Pound that meat, Zo. I love it when you talk dirty…

Lovely post – wish i could train mine up. I fear I’ve left it too late.

#3 The Devil Drink on 12.05.08 at 4:07 pm

I feel very grateful that my mother would let a little kid loose on half kilo piece of fillet steak

But not a word on the bottle of cooking sherry. I see what you did there.

#4 Pavlov's Cat on 12.05.08 at 9:23 pm

Is it all right to refer to one’s “first husband” in that woman-of-the-world, not-quite-nostalgic way if one has long since moved on but never quite got round to properly acquiring a second? Inquiring minds want to know.

I was given high-end French cookware not by my mamma (though she taught me much, and I too loved to trail round after her when she was cooking, asking questions) but as a parting gift from the university department I moved on from at the end of 1997. I was so thrilled by their superb taste (two pieces of deep cherry-red Chasseur: a big oval casserole and a terrine with a lid) that I almost changed my mind about leaving.

#5 Zoe on 12.05.08 at 9:53 pm

Once the first has been regularised, PavCat, a lady’s arrangements are entirely at her own discretion.

#6 FDB on 21.05.08 at 12:34 pm

“Is it all right to refer to one’s “first husband” in that woman-of-the-world, not-quite-nostalgic way if one has long since moved on but never quite got round to properly acquiring a second? ”

Most certainly it is, if a feelthy bloke might be permitted to give a perspective. It carries the unmistakable hint that you just might be induced to take another turn, if only someone good enough would step up. Red rag to this bull.

#7 Mel on 23.05.11 at 4:54 pm

Hi,
My dad used to make this sometimes on the weekend. I am now much older and my neighbors and I have organized a Chinese dinner on the weekend where we all do a dish each. I rang my mum to get the recipe book and she can’t find it anywhere. Can you please email me the recipe so I can enjoy it again…
Thanks
Mel

Leave a Comment


Warning: include(screenshot.php) [function.include]: failed to open stream: No such file or directory in /home/crazybravezoe/progressivedinnerparty.net/wp-content/themes/copyblogger/footer.php on line 6

Warning: include() [function.include]: Failed opening 'screenshot.php' for inclusion (include_path='.:/usr/local/lib/php:/usr/local/php5/lib/pear') in /home/crazybravezoe/progressivedinnerparty.net/wp-content/themes/copyblogger/footer.php on line 6