Thursday, November 14, 2013

Sweet ‘n’ Sour Kimchee Chicken

Sweet ‘n’ Sour Chicken brings back memories of gathering for a fancy occasion. On Guam it marked the advent of the annual office Christmas parties. My Dad’s company would order trays of Chinese banquet food from House of Wong. Four long fold-out tables were set up with white linen and covered chafing pans as Nat King Cole played in the background over the office intercom. Most of families (such as ours) donned the matching mumus and island print shirts; it made it easier to spot whose children were whose.

Mr. Paul Calvo, the company owner, would turn down the music leading everyone in thoughtful prayer of thanks... Dankalu yan si Yu'us ma'ase po' todos... maila fan, chumocho hamyu! The trays were uncovered as two lines formed flanking the long banquet tables... fat kids first (that meant me). My favorite dish was the sweet and sour pork—red, tart and tangy! I always think of it as Guam’s soul food. In recent light of Typhoon Haiyan’s massive path of destruction to the Philippines, I’m reminded me of how we survived super Typhoon Pamela in 1976. Trees and houses were toppled, jungle areas were stripped bare and concrete buildings and roadways collapsed into rubble. The island was left without power and pumping water, for some folks up to 8 months. Despite the tragedy of loss, I’m also reminded of the generosity of neighbors, outdoor cooking over hardwood fires, playing kickball in the dark and sharing dinner with family and friends around the kerosine lamp. That year I very much looked forward to the Calvo’s Insurance Christmas party. As we near the holidays, I have much to be thankful for. My heart goes out the people of Tacloban and Filipino friends and family who now live in a terrifying aftermath. My grandmother would always reminded us pray for the unfortunate ones and count our blessings.

As I finish the Kimcheelicious cookbook I saved the best for last: Sweet and Sour Kimchee Chicken made with my Napa cabbage kimchee (beachu) and crushed pineapple, right out of the can. This meal brings back fond memories of people and a quirky island childhood. I’m also including instructions for using seitan instead of meat.

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