king mushrooms, tofu, napa and eggs inspired by mrs. kong

dinners at the kong house

(and your help with a real “about me” page)

black pepper king mushrooms, napa cabbage and egg..

my friends and i went to university in the city, so we didn’t need to live on campus, we just took the subway from our parents’ homes. we also “studied” at our parents’ homes, rotating through each one, taking over living rooms, bedrooms and kitchen tables every night. our studying to eating ratio was about 10:90. we’d get in on the dinner that the family was having that night, then get out all of our books to start working but instead, would snack, make lots of jasmine tea, and maybe have leftovers from dinner, before freaking out that it was 4am and we still weren’t finished our assignments.

i choose not to let the endless cycle of procrastination and panic taint the highlight of all of those nights: the food. (and sure, the friendship. the bonding over that food.)

the beauty of it was not just that all of our families can cook, but that they all cooked such different things. we could have (at the time) sticky sweet chicken wings at my house, salt fish and dumplings at steph’s house, and a true hakka hybrid of chinese-jamican food at sue’s house, where mrs. kong always made a mind-blowing multi-dish dinner every night. one night she might make jerk pork, gai lan (chinese broccoli), with rice, another night the best ever chinese black bean spare ribs. but there was one night where she made ackee and salt fish, napa cabbage and korean short ribs with rice. that dinner was so good that i burned the experience into my memory. i know where i was sitting when i was eating it, the flavour of each individual thing and the feeling of not wanting to eat or do anything else ever again.

those feelings about that dinner arise from time to time and when they do, other foods do nothing for me. i have to find a way to quell those my craving for that meal, and a way to improvise now that i’m vegetarian. the urge took over this week so despite record heat, i stood over a hot wok to try to recreate that plate of food from 15 years ago. i’ve learned to make napa cabbage similar to mrs. kong’s–my mom taught me that it needs little more than a splash of chinese cooking wine and a little sesame oil. i used chinese mock meat in vain to try to get a beefy black pepper experience, but the king mushrooms more than made up for that. and i scrambled eggs to try to make up for the missing pillows of yellow ackee. it was no dinner at the kong’s house, but it scratched the itch. still, i think it’s time for a visit. mrs. kong probably misses me, i’m sure of it.

and as if that wasn’t enough about me, i need your help with my “about me” page. i’m actually trying to create one finally, so if there’s something you specifically would like to know, you can ask me here: and i will include some of the replies on the new page. otherwise it will include info like how i’m not over the demise of domino magazine, that i’m very scared of baking, that i’m also scared of spiders but will be upset if you kill one on my behalf, and other things you already do not care to know.

have a sunny, hot and happy weekend, everyone.