If the holidays were all about nostalgia, if the season were a time to look back fondly on happy childhood memories and if I were to create a meal along those lines, I’d have a platter that looks like this — sliced cold tongue on one side, golden fried dumplings on the opposite side and, between them, a simple stir-fry that has a lot of cauliflower.
As a child, cauliflower was one of my favorite vegetables (and there really weren’t too many). Not a lot of children our age ate tongue but my brother and I did for as long as I can remember. Even when we were very young, we already appreciated its unique mouth feel and every meal that included beef or pork tongue was a delight. And we loved dumplings, steamed or fried.
That’s two pork tongues in the photo. I simmered them with salt, pepper, garlic and onion until tender, and let them cool before slicing. The dumplings with kimchi filling were store bought. I just dropped them in hot oil to brown the wrappers until they were puffed and crisp. The cauliflower and broccoli florets were stir fried in sesame seed oil with some ginger, finely sliced chilies, salt and pinch of sugar.
I didn’t put them all together to intentionally cherry-pick from my childhood memories. It just so happened that they were what we had in the fridge. It seemed like an impossible task putting together on a plate things that couldn’t be more discordant. But as I was assembling this platter which we had for lunch a couple of days ago, I realized that were was nothing discordant about the components because all of them came straight out of my childhood.
Perhaps, our New Year’s Eve meal could be a combination of things that remind us of our childhood. Mine, Speedy’s, Sam’s and Alex’s. We could each choose one item and we’d put them all together to create something totally unique. Something that no other family could claim as their tradition because it would be special to us and only us. The more I think of it, the more I like the idea.