⟨ Food ⟩

Before Sunset

Karaage Chicken

Words & Photography / Jo

房間蒙上一層赭紅色,褐啡中帶着胭紅,像你拍的菲林相片,濾鏡下已看不到物件原本的顏色。日落時分的陽光與街燈光線交織,空氣瀰漫着松木餘香,給房間營造了美好的慵懶場景。

光線穿過百頁窗簾,三道長影落在側躺的你身上,從右腰延至大腿外側。

「很美,像幅畫,你看上去像一幅畫。」我似在讚嘆Rodin的作品。

「不,你像一幅畫,印象派的。」

「你可以畫我嗎?」

「我不太會畫。」

「我連火柴人也不會畫。」

我們就靜靜的躺着,Spotify按我們的過去播放着歌曲。你在我懷裡,頭擱在我胸前,我掃掃你的眉毛,劃過你的鼻子、耳朵、嘴唇,一直以指尖溜至你胸口,輕輕的,蜻蜓點水。我喜歡像摸着小孩般輕摸着你,一直的摸着。

時針踏進七時,我們都不想動。房間裡的一切似是靜止了,你的軀體、我倆的呼吸、空氣和時間。街上行人叫喚,路上警車呼嘯,還有我們想忘記的。房間以外,一切似乎離我們很遠。世界彷彿遺下了我倆,又或,是我倆逃離了這世界。

分針踏入十分,我飢腸轆轆,你聽見了,然後穿上灰色衛衣。當我慢條斯理換好裙子,你已淘洗了米,放到電飯煲裡煮,油也在鐵鍋裡加熱。你切着椰菜絲,手起刀落,滿像一個廚子,叫我暗暗稱奇。你早告訴我,下廚時不愛別人在旁評論。好吧,我不說話。你把切成小件的雞腿肉蘸上蛋漿,裹上麵粉,輕輕拍走多餘的麵粉後,把肉放到油鍋裡。親愛的,做日式炸雞不用蘸蛋漿啊。聽着鍋裡的聲音,便知道油溫太低了。還有啊,雞腿從雪櫃裡取出,直接放到鍋裡炸,冰凍的肉會令油溫驟降。儘管很想要求換我來下廚,我還是不作聲,挨牆靠壁,看着你做菜,看着電飯煲的蒸氣緩緩吐出,落在牆上,濕了一片。我移開電飯煲,你說謝謝,我悄悄的逕自回到房間去。

夜色籠罩,睡意襲來,我不想睡着,反正待會能睡多久便多久,我在你的椅子伸展一下,滑一下手機看instagram,雖然沒啥好看。電話響起,是你。你在廚房給我打電話

「你在哪裡?」

「在房裡。」

「過來。」

「怎麼了?」我又回到廚房。

「我還是想你在我的身邊。」

我把惺忪的臉埋在你的背,雙手摟在你的腰,你騰出手去拖着我的左手。

晚飯做好了。「可以給我盛飯嗎?」當然。打開飯煲,蒸氣裊裊,我把米飯打鬆,給你盛了大大的一碗,儘管你說小半碗就好了。

你開着地燈。我們懶去鋪陳飯桌,就把一大盤炸雞 、椰菜絲、沙律醬、熱茶和我倆的白飯都堆放在小茶几上。我給下廚的夾了一塊蘸滿沙律醬的炸雞,給自己那塊則少一點醬料。說實話,炸雞有點沒煮透、有點調味不夠、有點炸得軟趴趴,我卻還滋味地吃着,一口接一口。我喜歡你給我做飯,這年頭,點外賣送餐,只不過需要在電話上按幾下。時間無多,我們匆匆吃完。

「來擁抱一下。」語畢,你自顧自的走到沙發去。

你喜歡我待在你身旁,對不?

我總對平凡瑣事着迷,風吹葉、雲飄過,都想佇足細看。碼頭旁的鐵絲網上穿了個洞,我要去窺探;在天橋上有隻奇怪的鳥飛過,我要跟着去看;而當你發現原本在身旁的人不見了,總得回頭把她拉回來。有時候我不讓你拖着,你便一把手臂將我摟着,好像要確定我在你身邊。當我不在,你也時常問我何時回來,是否真的會回來。你怕我消失,我感覺如此。

現在,我在你的懷裡,耳鬢廝磨,你緊緊的抱住我。

「以後都像現在這樣子,可不可以。」

「傻瓜。」我只能這樣說。

我感到你的眼睫毛濕了,在你合起的眼簾上吻了吻。

「你會錯過那班飛機。」

「我知道。」

It looked like the shade of sepia in your film photography. Brownish, with a hue of rust, the room filled with the late afternoon light and that of the lamp post made a perfect setting of doing nothing.

The light peeked through shadow of the venetian blind, casting on your skin; from your right pelvis down to the side of your thigh. There were three stripes.

“It looks so beautiful. It’s like a painting. You look like a painting.” in a tone of admiring a piece of work by Rodin, I uttered.

“No, you look like a painting, an impressionist painting.”

“Can you draw me?”

“I’m not a good painter.”

“I can’t even doodle.”

And we lay still. The background was playing songs Spotify picked with reference to our history. You were in my arms, head rested on my chest. I like caressing you like a bambino. From your brows, tip of your nose, ears, lips, chin and down to your chest, I stroked down so lightly with my finger tip. I could do it all day.

The clock struck seven. Neither of us wanted to move. Everything in the room was so still; your body, our breaths, the air and time, the world out of this space seemed so far away; pedestrians hailing, sirens wailing, and the rest of the world we hoped to leave behind.

Ten past seven, you heard my stomach rumbling. You got in your grey pullover. While me, slowly, lazily getting in my dress, you had already put the rice in the rice cooker, and oil being heated up in a dutch oven. You were swiftly cutting up a cabbage so thinly that I was impressed by your chefy knife skills. You told me beforehand not to comment while you cook. Okay, I wouldn’t say a word. You started dipping the diced chicken fillets into egg wash and then coating them with a mix of flour. You know, honey, you shouldn’t have used the egg wash when making karaage chicken. Tapping off the excess flour, you dipped the chicken into the oil. Judging from the sound of the bubbling oil, I could tell that the liquid was not hot enough for deep frying. And the chicken, straight out from the fridge, was way too cold that the temperature of the oil dropped drastically once you put the meat in. Oh, honey. Despite how much I wanted to take over the kitchen, I just leaned by the wall and watched your preparing my supper, and watched the steam from the rice cooking wetting the wall and leaving a mark there, I turned the cooker exhaust away from the wall. You said thank you and I left the kitchen, quietly.

The night had enveloped the room. Trying to stay awake, for I would have all the time to sleep later, I stretched on your armchair and scrolled on Instagram even it had nothing I wanted to see. My phone rang. It was you calling, calling from the kitchen to be precise.

“Where are you?”

“In the room.”

“Come over.”

I met you again in the kitchen. “What’s up?”

“I just want you by my side.”

I buried my sleepy face in your back, and my arms around your waist. You held my left hand with the hand not occupied.

Dinner was served. “Can you serve my rice please?” Of course. I fluffed the steamy rice and, though you said half a bowl would be enough, handed you a big bowl of it. You turned on the floor lamp. Not bothered to lay out a dinner spread, we hustled everything on table – a plateful of karaage chicken, cabbage, mayo, our rice and a cup of tea. A piece of chicken rolled in mayo to the chef, a piece to my bowl with less dipping. It’s a tad undercooked, underseasoned, and a tad soggy to be honest. I savoured every bite still. I loved that you cooked for me when ordering takeout was just a few taps away. Time was running out. We finished the meal in haste.

“Come, let’s hug for a little while”

You liked having me around, didn’t you?

I’m always mesmerised by little things that I would stop and watch – peeking through that hole on the fence at the pier, following that peculiar bird flying by when we were walking down footbridge, you would come over and grabbed me. When I didn’t let you hold my hand, you would just wrap your arm around me, making sure I was by your side. Whenever I was away, you would ask, repeatedly, when will I be back, and if I would actually be back. You feared I would disappear or vanish from you sight, so I felt.

Now, in your arms, rubbing my cheek against yours, you held me tight.

“Can we stay like this forever?”

“Silly.” That was the only answer I could say.

I felt your lashes moistened and I kissed on your eyelids.

“You are going to miss that plane.”

“I know.”

日式炸雞

材料:

連皮雞腿肉  兩件
醬油麴*  兩大湯匙
薑蓉  1 茶匙
中筋麵粉  ¼ 杯
木薯粉  ¼ 杯

*替代調味
醬油  1 湯匙
鹽  ½ 茶匙
糖  1 茶匙
味醂  1湯匙
清酒  1 茶匙

做法:

  1. 雞腿肉切塊,約一口大小,與醬油麴及薑蓉拌勻。放在雪櫃,醃一晚。炸前1小時,從雪櫃取出,讓雞肉回溫。
  2. 油倒入鑄鐵鍋(或其他耐熱厚鍋),約兩吋深,以中大火加熱。
  3. 在大碗裡拌勻麵粉及木薯粉,放入雞件拌勻,雞件要裹上足夠麵粉。
  4. 以竹筷或木筷測試油溫。插入筷子,若持續冒出泡泡便可,若油泡過份沸騰,即油溫太熱。
  5. 雞件拍去多餘麵粉,放到油鍋裡,每次只放4至5件。
  6. 按油鍋沸騰程度調節火力。
  7. 視乎雞件大小,炸約80至90秒至金黃香脆即可。夾起放在網架上滴走多餘油份。伴以沙律醬及檸檬上桌。

Karaage Chicken

Ingredients:

Chicken thigh fillets (skin-on) 2pieces
Shoyu Koji* 2 heaps of tablespoon
Ginger, grated 1 teaspoon
All-purpose flour ¼ cup
Tapioca starch ¼ cup
Oil Loads

*Substitutes:
Soy sauce 1 tablespoon
Sea salt ½ teaspoon
Sugar 1 teaspoon
Mirin 1 tablespoon
Sake 1 teaspoon

Instruction:

  1. Dice the chicken thigh fillets into bite size. Mix them with shoyu koji and ginger. Store in the fridge, marinate overnight. 1 hour before frying, take the chicken out from the fridge.
  2. Pour oil into a dutch oven (or any pot good at retaining heat). The oil should be 2-inch deep. Heat it up over medium-high heat. Add the chicken to the flour and mix. Make sure they are well coated.
  3. Add the all-purpose flour and tapioca starch into a big bowl, mix well.
  4. Test the oil temperature with a pair of bamboo/wooden chopsticks; if it bubbles up steadily, the oil is hot enough for frying; if too vigorously, it is too hot.
  5. Tap off excess flour, dip the chicken into the oil. 4 to 5 pieces at a time.
  6. Observe the bubbling and adjust the oil temperature accordingly.
  7. Deep fry for about 80 to 90 seconds, depending on the size. Take the chicken out once it turns golden and crispy. Rest it on a wire rack. Serve with mayo and lemon wedges.

Jo Liu

It’s raining outside, crisp and bleak. Three chubby sparrows took shelter on my balcony and I gave them the baguette bits left on my breakfast plate but they flew away. I stayed in, played Damien Rice on vinyl and made apple crumble. Repeat.

Instagram: foodialoguehk