Essential Knowledge 14: Quantity (多寡須知)

須知單::多寡須知
用貴物宜多,用賤物宜少。煎炒之物多,則火力不透,肉亦不鬆。故用肉不得過半斤,用雞、魚不得過六兩。或問︰「食之不足如何?」曰︰「俟食畢後另炒可也。」以多為貴者,白煮肉,非二十斤以外,則淡而無味。粥亦然,非斗米則汁漿不厚,且須扣水,水多物少,則味亦薄矣。

List of Essential Knowledge::Quantity
It is better to use more of an expensive ingredient in a dish and less of the inexpensive ones [1]. If too much of an ingredient is pan-fried or stir-fried at a time, there would be insufficient heat to cook [2] them through, meats done this way are especially tough. As such, a cooked meat dish should not have more than 300g of pork or more more than 222g of chicken and fish [3]. If one asks: “What if there isn’t enough to eat?”, I say: “If you’re not full after you’ve done, just cook-up some more”. However some foods, such as white-cooked pork, needs to be prepared in large quantities above 12kg in order to taste good, otherwise the resulting food will be light and flavour-less [4]. Congee also follows this principle.  A pot of congee made with less than 10 liters [5] of rice will not be thick enough. Thus water needs to be reduced in cooking lesser quantities of congee. Too much water with too little rice would result in a congee that is both thin in texture and flavour.

Random notes:

[1]: Don’t you hate it when there are more peanuts and onions in your Kung Pao Chicken than chicken?
[2]: Says “cook” here but from a later sentence, we can see he is really talking about stir-frying
[3]: In Qing Dynasty measurements 1斤 = 590g,1兩 = 36.9g
[4]: Also true with stewed items. I small pot of LuRou never gets the rich complexity when cooked in small quantities
[5]: In Qing Dynasty measurements 1斗 = 10000ml

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