I was working with the Cloud Forest Hall manuscript and came to number 48. Roast Goose. The original recipe as translated by Alec Story is:
48. Roast Goose
Use the roast meat method [above], using salt, pepper [Sichuan, Zanthoxylum simulans], scallions [Allium fistulosum] and wine rubbed over the inside. On the outside, smear wine and honey. Add it to a wok. Follow the rest as the above recipe, but when you first add it to the wok, point the cavity upwards, and later turn it so that the cavity points down.
I was able to quickly redact the recipe as it is similar to other recipes I had already redacted from this work. My redaction reads as follows:
- 1 Chicken (1.5 kilos)
- 2tsp Salt
- 2tsp Chinese Pepper
- 4 Spring Onion
- 1 1/2 cups Cooking Rice Wine
- 50g Honey
- 1 cup water
- Clean bird and remove feathers.
- Marinade bird: inside marinade: 2 spring onion, 1 tsp salt, 1 tsp pepper, 1/4 c wine; outside marinade: cover bird in honey, rub on (2 spring onion, 1 tsp salt, 1 tsp pepper).
- Place in a bowl and pour 1/4 cup cooking rice wine over the bird. Cover and place in a refrigerator for at least 2 hours (better if you can allow to sit for 24 hours).
- In a wok, place bamboo skewers to form a lattice so that there is a gap between them and the bottom of the wok. The gap needs to be large enough to allow the bird to sit above the liquid that will be placed in the bottom of the wok.
- Place bird on the bamboo lattice breast up. Try to keep the bird off the sides of the wok.
- Add 1 cup of water and 1 cup of cooking rice wine to the bottom of the wok.
- Put the lid on the wok and seal the seam with wet paper (keep this paper moist—very important).
- Put the wok on a medium heat and allow the liquid to boil. Do not open the lid until it is time to turn the bird and then reseal with wet paper. Indicative times: 40 minutes from when the wok is put on the heat. Open, turn the bird, and reseal. Cook another 20 minutes and then allow to sit until the wok is cool.
I have a family of three. There is no way that we could eat an entire goose in a reasonable number of days. I decided to redact the recipe using a roasting chicken. This had the added benefit of fitting into the wok I already have at home. This would allow me to ‘trail’ the redaction and then scale it up at some point when I have more mouths to feed.
The redaction worked well until it was cooking time. Then the catastrophe began:
I was using indicative times for the redaction. I do this with each redaction as I work through it. Using previous experimentation and knowledge, I felt it was likely that these times would be about right. But to make sure, I put a meat thermometer in the breast of the chicken. I don’t like raw chicken. The meat thermometer connected with a side unit outside the wok so that I knew the meat temperature. Excellent, I thought. Oh, but it did make getting the seal on the wok difficult.
I started the cook and watched as the meat temperature skyrocketed. It was just not possible for the meat to heat this quickly. I removed the wok from the heat and waited for the temperature to fall inside so that I could open it without the possibility of hot liquid splashing on me.
What I saw inside was a tragedy. The chicken was too heavy for my lattice work of bamboo skewers and had fallen into the liquid below. The boiling liquid was resting against the thermometer. Hence the rapid temperature rise.
I rearranged the bamboo, strengthening the structure. I repositioned the thermometer and started again. The cook seemed to be going well.
On the second part of the cook, the thermomotor read that the chicken was cooked. I was thrilled because I had guessed nearly to the minute. Only….
I opened the wok to a grey chicken. It was utterly disgusting. When I pulled the meat thermometer, a gush of blood followed. The thermometer was resting against the rib bone and had read a false number.
Into the wok again. This time without the meat thermometer.
I cooked it for another 20 minutes. Certainly, it must be done now.
Opening the wok, I looked at the still grey bird. I pulled it out and cut into the meat. Once I cut through the rubbery, pale skin, the breast meat was hard and dry on the outside, pink and spongy on the inside.
I tipped the bird into the bin and we ordered takeaway. Sometimes, it’s better to know when you are beaten.
I have yet to try this recipe again. I will do in the cooler months. But I am giving my brain a few months off before I try.
I hope that this helps you in your redaction work.
Until next time, may the hunting be good and the rivers flow calmly.