涼拌海蜇 - Banquet Appetizer aka Dragon-Phoenix Appetizer aka Pupu Platter

Photos and Text by Jasper Lo

The third 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):

涼拌海蜇
loeng⁴ bun³ hoi² zit³
Banquet Appetizer aka Dragon‐Phoenix Appetizer aka Pupu Platter

Slice 2” ginger and chop 3 stalks green onions.
Place ginger first with oil, then place green onions
let green onions wilt.
Add ½ tablespoon five spice powder, 2 cloves star anise
1 tablespoon rock sugar, and toss for a minute.
Add Shaoxing wine and soy sauce. Wait until simmer,
place one whole beef shank and cover with water.
Simmer for 1½ to 2 hours, until you can pierce with a fork
remove and refrigerate for 1 to 2 hours. Slice thinly
across the grain.

Remove the trotters from the knee joint
add enough water to cover with 3 cloves star anise
and boil for 30 minutes
then replace water (enough to cover)
and boil gently for 1 to 1½ hours.
Remember, poke with a chopstick:
soft, not mushy.
Remove knuckle from water and let cool slightly,
split lengthwise and debone knuckle.
Season the halves with ½ tablespoon of salt,
2 tablespoons of Shaoxing wine,
pepper and Sichuan peppercorns.
Put one piece down first, on a piece of plastic,
and place the second one
so that the thinner piece is complemented by the thicker piece,
a pork knuckle yin-yang.
Wrap the knuckle in the plastic and bind it, taut, with string.
As you tie, feel the knuckle get thinner,
it should be even in thickness, if tied correctly.
Chill and cut into thin slices.

And give a round of applause for more rehydrated seafood – start with the jellyfish
and rinse very well in cold water
drain and place in boiling water for 15 minutes
and watch the jellyfish strands’ symmetric dance
with the rising bubbles
or boil until tender.
Rinse again with cold water for 6 minutes.
Mix soy sauce, sesame oil,
vinegar, and sugar
into the drained jellyfish
let sit for 30 minutes
garnish with sesame seeds.

Place the medley of cold appetizers
on a plate, with the jellyfish in the center;
its throne in the middle country
surrounded by the sovereign shank
and noble trotters.
Serve with tongs if preferred.