芥蘭魷魚 - Poached Chinese Broccoli with Dried Squid
Photos and Text by Jasper Lo
The seventh poem in the collection To Go To Macau. See the first one here.
To Go To Macau is a collection of poetry. You can categorize it in both genres of cookbook and memoir, your typical Good Morning America grandmother combo. This collection attempts to answer opposing questions two SIPA students have asked me: by a Chinese student during orientation, "But you're not really Chinese right?" and by an American student at a SIPA happy hour, "You were born here? Are you American?" Within these two questions, I explore themes of diaspora, violence, masculinity, race, and migration.
The menu (translator):
gaai³ laan⁴*² jau⁴ jyu⁴*²
Poached Chinese Broccoli with Dried Squid
The two bodies were scorched;
rope tied around their knees,
joints bent like chicken wings
on The Brooklyn Bridge
of the Euphrates–
By the time the last green Mitsubishi Pajero
has crashed into razor wire on the north side of Highway 10,
Michael is dead and Scott is fighting to keep
his last breaths. Neither have returned fire.
The ambush was quick
and Fallujah swarms with gas cans.
Scott is barely breathing as he begins to smell
petrol pouring on the dashboard and splashing on his lap.
It’s hard to hear through all the screaming,
but he’s listening for the sound of a lighter
or the sound of fire. But it’s already started
and he tumbles out the vehicle
burning lightly, bleeding heavily.
On the cement now, he reaches one arm –freezes.
Scott holds this tableau until the boys return with more petrol.
And when they pour again, Scott’s left shoulder strap
holding his vest, has burned off.
And when they pour again, Scott’s skin is almost discernible
—changes quickly with each second the fire rages resembling
—the flattened dried squid, cleaned thoroughly:
eyes, skin, fins, and entrails removed.
Rinse and rehydrate the dried squid
soak in 8 cups of water for 3 to 4 hours
or until soft
tear off their skins
rinse the dirt
use only their legs.
Combine 1 teaspoon: oyster sauce, sesame and vegetable oil, and hot water.
Poach the broccoli for 4‐5 minutes
or until tender
Dip legs in hot water,
Drizzle sauce on broccoli and legs.