Youth can be a turbulent time for a person. When you are young, you are full of energy but without the wisdom to benefit it. The experience is frustrating because it is difficult to be calm and see it in a clean glass. My daughter was an example of this. Over ten years ago, when she was a teenager, it was difficult to instill my vision for her as a parent. I commanded her to be home before 8 o'clock at night, to minimize her enjoyment for rubbish music and most of all, I did not want her losing focus on her studies for the interest of boys. Of course, she did not listen and endured the undiscipline and emotions for youth. How hard it must have been for her at the time, she must have wanted to study and be obedient but could not control her desire for petty things like dating and pop music (that Aaron Kwok was such a mischievous rascal). Yet, I recall another youth who became even more lost in his own struggle for restraint and cultivation: myself.
It has been many decades since I have told this story. In my own adolescence, I have shamefully fallen into a lapse of judgment once. At the time I had recently met two new friends, Shan Wei and Little Lee. Both of them had been friends for a long time, and both of them enjoyed getting into trouble. Although I knew better, I could not control myself into following them. One holiday weekend, they convinced me to lie to my parents and tell them I had gone to a field trip with my university professors and peers. Shan Wei planned to go to Macau, which was a very unhealthy place. Macau is a Portuguese territory just south of Hong Kong, and it was well-known for its gambling and disco.
On our first night, Shan Wei and Little Lee decided on one of their casinos. The heavy smell of smoke instantly made me cough and very nauseous. Little Lee convinced me to try my luck at the roulette tables. I did not realize soon enough until reflection that they did not play and only watched me spend my money. Whenever I won just a little bit, they insisted as friends we split our winnings three ways. Eager to please them, I paid for their dinner and even our stay at the hotel. Shan Wei burned through cigarettes one after another at the casino and later throughout the trip. I had not realized he was such a chain smoker until then. He offered me to try, but thankfully, I had the common sense to say no.
The worst part of the trip, I still remember, was when we went to a "gentleman's club".
At first, I was skeptical about why it looked suspicious with neon lights and its dark shades. I had imagined a gentlemen's club to be like on the Western television movies, filled with British men and upper class discussion on the latest politics. Instead, I noticed no gentlemen, but uncouthed males entering a disco music hallway. Shan Wei and Little Lee shook in excitement the moment we walked in. I immediately knew this was a very bad place. I yelled in horror the moment I saw two women walking around without a shirt on. I feared for my life. Shan Wei and Little Lee started flirting with other shirtless women. I was too scared to do anything. When a clothesless Macau woman approached me and touched my buttocks, I immediately ran out of the gentlemen's club.
Macau is not for me. There are good, but far too much disturbance for a healthy person. And yet, sometimes, when I cook, I have to make a dish that is a little improper and sinful. For this example, I have decided to choose the White Wine Cod Stew in today's lesson. Why is the this dish not my favorite? For one, it is fattening. But the other is that it breaks a moral barrier for cooking with alcohol. Although you cannot get drunk, even some exposure to some can eventually leave to addiction. This dish is famously Macau, and I cook it well, but it must be eaten in regulation.
Enjoy the lesson, then we will finish the story.
1. PREPARING THE COD
In Macanese cooking, seafood is everything. Not only because the location is close to the sea, but because Portguese influences are heavy on seafood cooking. For this dish, we cannot use any other type of fish as substitution. The choice of a cod is the reason this particular dish tastes the way it does. Any other choice would be changing the structure of the taste.
So, we use rince the cod fish for around 2-4 minutes. You will need an oven for this, as we are going to place the cod into a souffle dish sealed shut with a lid, which we will put at a 650 watt oven for 100 in 6-8 minutes. After this time, we will remove from the over and uncover to rinse with cold water another 3 minutes. Repeat this back to the oven two more times.
2. SETTING UP THE POTATOES
- Olive Oil
Penetrate each potato with a knife and then power towel each piece, then dip them with oil and garlic pieces. Cook each towel protected potato at 100% power in a 650 watt microwave for 11 minutes. Once done, remove from the oven and let the pieces cool.
3. ADDING IN THE REST
- White wine
- Plum tomatoes
- Black olives
- Bay leaf
- Black pepper
- Golden raisins
- Pine nuts
Once the cod fish and the potatoes are heated from oven and properly prepared. Insert in some chopped plum tomatoes, olives, bay leaves, thyme, black olives, pepper and sugar. Most controversial of all, introduce the dish with the white wine. It brings out the flavor but it also places some alcohol in it. Always remember to never DRINK while COOKING. We can use wine this time, it's okay. But remember the white wine is for the cooking. If you are drunk, please be careful as you are close to the fire and could very well get very hurt. Drinking is dangerous.
Now put everything into one dish that can be sealable with a lid and cook at 100% power for up to 10 minutes.
Once that is done, remove from oven and garnish with raisins, black pepper and pine nuts.
There, you now have the White Wine Cod Stew.
Enjoy, but be responsible.
I waited for two hours for Shan Wei and Little Lee to come out of the gentlemen's club. They did not. When I arrived back into my hotel room, I was alone and began to be upset. I had wished I was back in Hong Kong with my classmates, hiking or biking. My disappointment in myself brought me to sleep. When I woke up the next morning, many things were gone including my wallet. Since I noticed Shan Wei and Little Lee's bags had disappeared, I've concluded that they had committed robbery of me. Heartbroken from a false friendship, I made my way back to the Hong Kong ferry and paid for it with begged loose change.
This lapse of judgment happened because I was young. I could not control what I felt and went against my instincts. I am now glad to be old and wise. I wish I could have been here quicker. It is no fun to be young with so much confusion about right or wrong. I tell my daughter, but she did not believe me until these last few years. When an adult tells a child things, the child must absolutely listen! The adult serves as the eyes and leads the blinded youth toward a life of contentment through discipline and worthiness. If I had listened to my elders, I would not have gone to Macau and smothered my eyes with a gentlemen's club and gotten robbed! Such is the suffering of youth, but we must all find that day, when we are wiser and less fallen to the tricks of temptation.