I'd like to begin this entry with a little survey. Please leave your response in the form of a comment below.
In your opinion, which is more important to a dish: taste or presentation?
The reason I ask has to do with my attempts at cooking tonight. Once upon a time in Yuli, we went to Peggy's house to learn how to cook some of our favorite dishes. We took notes and pictures.
Today I decided I would attempt two of these recipes on my own: egg plant and salmon.
Eggplant (qie2 zi)
* Chop and soak in water for 10+ minutes
* Heat 1 cup of oil and add eggplant, cover and cook about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally
* Drain most of oil and remove eggplant, sauté 1-2 cloves of garlic in remaining oil and add eggplant
* Add sauce (you2 gao1) and fresh basil, stir-fry and serve.
Salmon (gui1 yu2)
* Heat oven to 230 degrees Celsius.
* Sprinkle pepper and basil over salmon and broil for 20 minutes
* Flip after 10 minutes
* Cook until salmon is browned and it’s easy to poke a chopstick through
* Add pepper and fresh lemon juice before serving
The instructions to both are rather straightforward, but I seemed to experience a couple of complications, one being that my eggplant didn't stay very purple, it turned brown as soon as I put it in the pan (maybe it was too hot or not enough oil) and nearly burned. The second was that my salmon didn't take too kindly to being flipped... so anyways, it tasted pretty good, but my finished result wasn't nearly as attractive as Peggys...
It's a little reminiscent of the "apple mess" story, last December, I baked an apple pie and when I brought it over to the Su's for dinner it kinda fell apart (also, I hadn't cooked the crust long enough). Dr. Su kindly complimented me by observing: "It's not apple pie, it's apple MESS!"