Fish, is what my dad loves to eat. Growing up, I had fish probably two to three times a week and most of the time it was either, caught by my dad earlier that day or on the weekend before. Even when I asked my dad “If you could have the ultimate meal what would it be?” His response “I like to eat fish.” “Well geez dad, we all know that” as I thought to myself. I have always been daddy’s little girl and I knew the way to his heart was through fish, so every Sunday or whenever my dad was free, I would go fishing with him and my little brother. I don’t want to brag, but I was really good at fishing, I caught a total of 10 fishes in 4 hours at the age of 12. I knew my dad was proud of me, even if, he didn’t want to admit it because he would always make this funny smile that was sincere enough that you can see his eyes twinkle a bit, as he squint it to the point of which you saw his wrinkles on the side of his eyes.
My dad is a refugee. When the Vietnam War began, my dad was sent out on a boat with his sister to come to America to send their family money, both my dad and my auntie were the oldest of thirteen children. “How did you start cooking? What made you want to start dad?” He laughed and said “When I was hungry and no one could cook for me, I was around sixteen at that time and I was in the refugee camps.” “What did you make?” I asked after. “Porridge with little crabs, I had to eat whatever I had.” At that moment I laughed along with my dad too, as I sat on the bed with him in the dark, as he watched his Chinese soap operas, I thought to myself, “how lucky am I to be alive and living in America”
As I then go on to ask “Do you enjoy cooking, or do you do it because you have to?” As blunt as my dad is, his response was “Right now, I hate cooking.” “Hey why?” I said. “All you guys are old enough and I took care of you guys already. I had to cook for you guys when you guys where young, now you guys have to take care of me.” To me, I think that it was a fair enough response and I agree as well. But I just had to say “Dad, I have cooked for you and I do take care of you.” As my dad goes on smiling “ You’re brother always cooks for us, you have only cooked once and that was you’re Italian food, when you got back.” I could not believe my dad just said that “ Wow, I have cooked for you numerous times, what about that fried chicken I made for you with all the seasonings?” As I read what I have said to my dad, I realize I really don’t cook for my parents in general and I must admit that my little brother is quite the cook. As my dad makes fun of me “What chicken? I you never made that, I remember all the foods I eat and you never made that” Although, my dad does not remember I really did make that chicken, I swear I did.
I think my dad is a better cook than my mom, but don’t tell her that. “How would you rate yourself as a cook?” I asked my dad. “I’m a ok cook. I like to cook my own stuff.” The reason I think that my dad cooks better than my mom is that he knows his stuff. At around the age of 25 my dad worked in a kitchen helping to make food, actually come to think of it, my dad has always worked with food. I remember fondly when I was six my dad would go to cooking lessons in Chinatown, twice every week and I would go with my mom to pick him up because every time he came out, he would have the food he learned that day for us to try. My dad is an incredible chef and when he says he makes his own food he does it in way that he gives his own touch to it. My dads Hoi Lum gai fan is his favorite as well as my favorite dish of his. This dish is the name of a place in China know for their style of how they make chicken with rice, but my dads rice is made with onions and garlic with a thick, sweet, sour and spicy sauce with cilantros that is drizzled on top of the boiled chicken that is not completely shredded but, just enough that you can still stab your fork into the chicken knowing that it won’t fall off your fork.
My dad’s Hoi Lum Gai Fan is so good that one time, my older sister and I came back from happy hour at Chevys with a full tummy. But my dad insisted that we come home and eat his famous dish. Prepared as though I was eating at a restaurant, my dad did not give my sister and I a break, he gave us the full portion and knowing I had a tummy full of Tex-Mex food I wanted to cry, as I saw how much food he gave me. In 30-40mins my plate was completely clean not a single grain of rice was left. Dad’s Hoi Lum Gai Fan is the best and he is the best dad. I can see why my dad loves and hates cooking because he was forced to cook and he always took care of other people. Now that I am older, I can finally understand my dad and his love/hate relationship with food.