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在纽约小店品尝最简单的台湾家常菜

更新时间:2017-4-9 10:30:25 来源:纽约时报中文网 作者:佚名

Simple Taiwanese Food, Full of Secrets, at Mama Lee in Queens
在纽约小店品尝最简单的台湾家常菜

I did not expect sorcery from a preserved turnip.

我没有料到经过腌制的大头菜会有魔力。

It was the only ingredient in the omelet on my plate at Mama Lee, a small, plain-spoken Taiwanese restaurant in Bayside, Queens. The eggs had been beaten loosely, so flecks of white still showed, and hustled from the pan when patchy bronze. Inside, they were studded with tender nubs of turnip, yielding with a quiet crunch.

在皇后区贝赛德面积不大、布置简单的台湾餐厅一品香(Mama Lee)里,腌大头菜,只是那盘名叫菜脯蛋的菜品的食材之一。鸡蛋并没有充分打散,还能看到一块块的蛋白,煎到不均匀的赤褐色后迅速出锅。蛋饼里面裹着脆嫩的大头菜,吃上去会发出轻轻的嘎吱声。

Nothing else had been added, not even salt. “Everything is in the turnip,” said Mei Lee, the restaurant’s eponymous owner. The root’s briny flavor was diffuse, like a tint of rose in sunglasses. It made me think of surfacing after a plunge in the sea, that half-taste, half-scent of salt.

其他什么都没加,盐都没有。“味道都在大头菜里,”与餐厅英文名同姓的老板李梅(音)说。大头菜的咸味会散开,就像透过墨镜看玫瑰的颜色一样。它让我想起了跳进海里后钻出水面时的情形,那种一半来自嗅觉一半来自味觉的咸味。

Home-style Taiwanese cooking, full of secrets, at this small restaurant in Bayside, Queens.
在纽约皇后需的一品香台湾餐厅,能够吃到丰盛、家常的台湾菜。卤肉饭、三杯鸡、蒜香茄子、红烧狮子头.....丰盛的菜品等待饕客与异乡游子们前来寻觅。

In Taiwan, you would categorize this dish as xiao chi: small eats. It’s not fancy and not meant to be. And still I wanted to write ode upon ode to it.

在台湾,你可能会把这道菜归为小吃。它不精美,原本也没人打算把它做得精美。但我还是想为它写一首又一首颂歌。

“This is simple, home-style food,” Ms. Lee insisted. She is a no-nonsense figure in apron and bandanna, comfortingly bossy. Twice, she scolded me gently for ordering too much, concerned for my health.

“就是简单的家常菜,”李梅坚持说。系着围裙、裹着头巾的她说话直截了当,有种自在的霸气。她两次婉转地指责我点的东西太多了,担心我的健康。

Every meal begins with a generous, free bowl of soup, which, on my visits, was a clear broth made from pork bones that at first tasted of hardly anything and grew deeper with each spoonful.

客人开始吃饭时,会先喝一大碗免费的汤。我几次去喝到的都是用猪骨熬制的清汤,一开始喝几乎什么味道都没有,每喝一勺,汤的味道都会越浓郁。

Eventually nearly every table holds a plate of the enormous meatballs known as lion’s heads, rough spheres of ground pork bound by egg and mottled with ginger and garlic. They are seared briefly, then braised for two hours until they emerge as soft as physically possible without falling apart. At the touch of chopsticks, they calve like glaciers.

最后,几乎每张桌子上都会摆一盘叫狮子头的大肉丸。这道菜是用鸡蛋将拌有姜和大蒜的猪肉糜粘合在一起,大致做成球状。先将这些大肉丸煎一小会儿,然后再炖两个小时,直到它们变得非常软,同时又不会散开。在筷子的触碰下,它们像冰川一样崩解。

According to legend, three-cup chicken earned its name from a 13th-century recipe improvised for a hero’s last meal, with one cup each of sesame oil, soy sauce and Shaoxing wine. Here, a more complex calibration anoints boneless hunks of dark thigh meat, which acquire a seal the color of caramel in the wok and arrive shining, adorned with garlic and swooning leaves of Thai basil.

三杯鸡据传得名于13世纪时为一个英雄的最后一餐临时想出的做法:一杯芝麻油、一杯酱油和一杯绍兴黄酒。在这里,标准更复杂一些,是表面油光闪闪的去骨深色鸡腿肉,这要求在制作过程中保证那种焦糖色。上桌时,菜品闪闪发光,还有大蒜和泰国罗勒叶作装饰。

Salt-and-pepper chicken is sweeter, the skin more fluffy than crackly. As for the chicken roll, listed under Special Dishes, it has no chicken: The filling is fish paste, ground pork and carrots, infiltrated by five-spice, folded inside bean-curd skin, and fried. This also skews sweet, and comes with ketchup. Its appeal remains a mystery to me, but people at other tables seemed to like it just fine.

盐酥鸡更甜,鸡皮松软多过酥脆。至于列在“特色”一栏下面的鸡肉卷,里面根本没有鸡肉:馅料是鱼肉泥、猪肉糜和胡萝卜,撒入五香粉拌匀,然后用豆皮包起来,再下锅煎。这道菜也偏甜,且要搭配番茄酱。它受欢迎这件事对我来说依然是个谜,但其他桌的客人似乎觉得它还好。

Children bow heads over bowls of lu rou fan: ground pork, tofu and a hard-boiled egg inky from a long braise in soy and Shaoxing wine. Grown-ups want it, too, alongside hotter dishes like strips of flank steak in a swarm of longhorn green peppers, some innocent and bright, others hellbent.

孩子们只顾埋头吃卤肉饭:猪肉糜、豆腐和用酱油、黄酒长时间焖煮的卤蛋。大人也会喜欢,此外还有一些比较辣的菜,比如切条的侧腹牛排搭配一大团尖椒丝,其中有些纯良无害,有些则要将你置于死地。

Ms. Lee, whose family has roots in northern China, grew up in South Korea; her husband is a native of Taiwan, where she went to college. For years, she said, “I was a housewife.” Then, in 2013, with her son halfway through high school, she spotted this tiny storefront next to a Taiwanese-American church.

李梅的家人祖籍中国北方,她在韩国长大,丈夫是台湾人。她在台湾上的大学。她说,在很多年里,“我只是个家庭主妇。”然后到2013年她儿子高中读到一半时,她发现了这个紧挨着一座台裔美国人教堂的小店面。

She runs the kitchen with her uncle Jin Tsai Liu, who was a chef at a Shanghainese restaurant in Rego Park. And every night, her husband, who works for a Chinese-language newspaper, stops by to help her clean up. “We close the door and walk home together,” she said.

她和曾在雷戈公园的一家上海餐厅当厨师的叔父刘锦齐(音)一起经营这家餐厅。每天晚上,供职于一家中文报纸的丈夫会顺便过来帮她打扫卫生。“我们一起关门,然后走路回家,”她说。

The dining room is spare but cheerful, with an orange back wall, taped-up Christmas cards and children’s drawings, and photographs of the Alpine village in Austria where the Lees stayed on a farm and milked cows last summer. “We enjoy natural things, not big buildings,” she said.

就餐区布置得很简单,但色彩明亮。后墙是橙色的,上面贴着圣诞贺卡和孩子们画的画,以及去年夏天在奥地利阿尔比斯山区的一个村子里拍的照片。当时,李梅一家住在一个农场里,给奶牛挤奶。“我们喜欢自然的东西,而不是巨大的建筑,”她说。

Restaurant hours are erratic, so call ahead. The staff members take a “rest,” as the sign in the window puts it, from 4 to 5 p.m. On weekends, the food often sells out by 7:30 p.m. If Ms. Lee is not feeling well — “I used to have good health, but this restaurant gives me lots of pressure” — she will take the day off. Last year, she closed the restaurant for four months so she could spend time with her parents in South Korea.

餐厅营业时间不定,因此需提前致电。就像窗户上的标识牌写的那样,下午4点到5点工作人员“休息”。周末时,菜品往往在晚上7点30分之前就卖完了。如果感到身体不适——“我过去身体很好,但这间餐厅让我压力很大”——李梅就会关门。去年,餐厅歇业四个月,这样她才有时间在韩国陪父母。

Ms. Lee is not sure if she wants more people to know that her restaurant exists. “I always tell my customers, ‘Eat for yourself,’” she said. “‘Don’t tell anyone.’”

李梅不确定自己想不想让更多人知道存在这样一家餐厅。“我总是对顾客说,‘你们自己吃就好了,’”她说。“‘不要告诉任何人。’”

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