I love Chinese food. Most of it. Especially the sticky, red-glazed spareribs. How do they make those?
We have a local restaurant that has an especially good version. I’ve tried duplicating but haven’t been successful. I found something new to try. It’s a sauce (?) called char siu.
I tried all our local grocery stores that have extensive Asian sections, but I couldn’t find it. I tried Amazon. What’s with them these days. All the versions were expensive. I could buy a six-pack if I cash in my pension. They don’t like to sell single jars. Or packets.
My last choice was to go to an Asian market. We have two in the area. I always feel awkward going into an ethnic market. Out of place awkward. It’s staffed by people who don’t speak English well and my Chinese (or Greek or Korean) is non-existent. Before I went, I pulled up the pronunciation on-line because I knew I couldn’t to it phonetically. I practiced for five minutes but had no confidence that what I was saying in any way resembled the voice in my computer.
How hard could this be?
I went into the store. I was struck by two things. One is the stink. OMG! It smelled like decaying seafood. Do they all smell like this? Yikes!
Second, it was freezing. I’m not talking 68 degrees cold. I’m talking more like 50 to 55 degrees maybe. I saw two staff people. Both were wearing their winter coats and had gloves with the fingertips cut off so they could work the cash register.
At first I attempted to locate it myself. They had an area that was all sauces and seasonings. Surely, it was there. I couldn’t read most of the stuff. It was all Chinese characters. I needed help.
I went to the register and got in back of another poor soul who couldn’t pronounce what she wanted. The cashier gave up and told the woman to get a picture. When Google pulled it up on her cell phone, the cashier laughed as the product was right in back of the customer.
I’m up next. I ask for it using my best Chinese (which is non-existent). I see “deer in the headlights” look from cashier. I repeat at least ten times moving the accent around. Nope. Then I try to explain what it is. Barbecue sauce. For pork. Makes it red and sticky. Sort of sweet.
Something struck pay dirt. She laughed and said something that didn’t sound anything like my product phonetically. I said sure. I was game for just about anything by this time as long as it wasn’t seafood.
She went to the area I had spent 15 minutes searching and pulled it out. Yep, in small print it had the English words.
It is now in my pantry awaiting experimentation. By the way, it was less than half the price of Amazon’s cost. It was well worth the shallow breathing and shivering to get. If the place smells that badly in the winter, perhaps I should buy a supply before summer comes. If it works.
I love me a good barbecue! If a good story goes with it, so much the better!