Farewell old friend

26 Jan

The House of Chan has fallen.
Yesterday’s Chinatown fire ripped through our beloved childhood Chinese joint. As bulldozers demolished the blackened ruins of the two-storey red brick building, our heart broke.
True, the mostly-Cantonese buffet had long ago closed and had been replaced by a succession of others.
But during the 1980s, it was our family joint.
Past the mahogany roasted ducks hanging by their necks in the butcher’s window, through the red wooden doors, up the steep staircase, through the bamboo curtain the five of us went on Wednesdays or Sundays. The day of the week never mattered. The lure of the steam trays, while perfect for little kids, predictably wore off as our palates grew up along with us. After a decade, we simply stopped going.
The Shirley Temples, won ton soup, sweet and sour spareribs, and thickly-battered egg rolls were easy to leave behind. But it was the chicken wings that became the stuff of family legend. Hot, dry, garlicky and salty. Our kid brother plowed through them like a small feral animal, typically leaving a mound of knawed bones so high our parents were forced to look elsewhere as waiters collected the plates.
The fresh, plump wings came straight from Chinatown butchers. Today’s pre-frozen and commercially-sauced pub wings aren’t in the same league.
The restaurant is gone for good now. The velvet wallpaper and smoky mirrors remain a hokey memory. But we miss the idea of having a family joint — a small place where the friendly owners greet you by name and no matter how sophisticated you consider yourself, you comfortably lapse into ordering the same dish over and over again.
House of Chan was everything good Chinese food and custom is: family time spent sharing tasty favourites.
With nostalgia in mind, here are some memories…

14 whole chicken wings, cut into 28 pieces
1 medium egg
peanut oil for frying

6 tbsp soy sauce
1/2 tsp garlic salt
1/4 tsp ground ginger

1 cup cornstarch
1 cup flour
1 tsp garlic salt (more)
1 tsp or more crushed red pepper

Rinse off the wings with cold water and then dry them with paper towels.
Mix with marinade ingredients. Let them sit at room temperature for 30 minutes.
In a large bowl, mix together all of the ingredients for the coating and then set this mixture aside. If you want more garlic flavor, add ½ tsp or 1 tsp extra of garlic salt.
Once the wings have marinated for 30 minutes, drain them in a colander, dry excess marinade. Then return them to the bowl.
Add the egg to the wings, mixing it in with your hand so that each wing is thoroughly coated.
Place the wings, a few at a time into the coating mixture, tossing them with your hand to make sure that they are evenly coated. Leave all of the wings in this mixture as you continue to add more and coat them.
Once all of the wings are thoroughly coated, add 2 to 3 cups of peanut oil to a wok and heat it on high.
When the oil is hot, add the wings directly from the coating mixture, shaking them off and adding them one at a time. Cook about 6 to 7 wings at one time making sure not to overcrowd the wok.
Cook the wings for about 5 minutes, or until brown.
Then remove them with a slotted spoon and place them on a plate lined with paper towels.
Continue cooking the remaining wings in batches.
For extra crispy wings, once they are all finished cooking, fry them a second time for just 2 to 3 minutes on high.


from Michael Smith

  • 2 boneless chicken breasts, skin removed
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon grated ginger
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • Few drops sesame oil
  • 2 egg whites
  • 2 carrots, peeled and grated
  • 3 green onions, sliced


Fill an electric deep fryer with peanut or canola oil and heat to 365°.

Puree chicken, soy sauce, ginger, cornstarch, sesame oil and egg whites in a food processor until smooth. Add the carrots and green onion and whiz briefly just until stirred in but not pureed.

Using a pair of tablespoons form the chicken mixture into rough ball shapes. Carefully drop them into the fryer oil using one of the spoons to push the mixture off the other spoon. Fry until they are golden brown on all sides, about 5 minutes depending on the size.

•2 cups water
•3/4 cup Heinz ketchup
•3/4 cup white sugar
•3 tbsps grenadine
•3 tbsps cornstarch
•1/4 cup water

Combine the first 4 ingredients in a saucepan on top of the stove and cook on medium heat for 1 to 2 minutes. In the meantime, mix 3 tbsps of cornstarch with 1/4 cup of water and add to the other ingredients to thicken the sauce. Cook until thickened.

1/2 cup ketchup
1 teaspoon soy sauce
1/3 cup white vinegar
1/2 cup brown sugar, packed (can reduce to 1/3 cup)
1 cup white sugar (can reduce a few tablespoons for a less sweeter taste)
3/4 cup cold water (or can use unsweetened pineapple juice or half each, I prefer the pineapple juice)
5 tablespoons cornstarch (for a thinner sauce reduce a few teaspoons)


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: