Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Chef Gusteau, Ping Lacson and Wok with Yan

Disney-Pixar film's Ratatouille and Chef Gusteau
The words of Chef Gusteau, whether he is real or not, is true: Anyone can indeed cook. Panfilo Lacson - the Philippine Senator and erstwhile fugitive and suspect in the Dacer-Corbito murder case - happily related after resurfacing that while he was in hiding, he was able to learn to cook - and only with the help of Google, all this while deftly eluding the hands of Philippine law.

Ok this is not about Lacson, fugitives and the search for justice. This is about the happy subject of cooking. :)

Going back:
Proof of the truth to Chef Gusteau's statement that everyone can cook - is my brother. :) It used to be that I was a better cook than he was. This was way way back. In fact, I was A cook and he was NOT a cook. In his previous attempts to learn to cook, I have had to endure plenty of his experiments. One of the most memorable was something that seemed like adobo - only it had.. rice in it (?). It was a confused adodo/champorado/lugaw. I think that was the dish that made me write him off as absolutely lacking in talent in cooking. The idea was good for a laugh, but I had to eat his cooking anyway.

And yet, after hundreds of practice and years of necessity, he has truly learned to cook and has in fact become a better cook than I am. His dishes that have become my favorites are his Garlic Chicken and his Kare-Kare. I crave these dishes everytime I come home, and he has been happy to oblige me, always.

Kare-kare: Among my favorite dishes; best cooked by my brother. :)
Before the preponderance of cooking shows on cable TV (like Master Chef, Jamie Oliver, Nigella Lawson, etc.), the one who stirred our desire to give cooking a try or the one who showed us that cooking can be a fun and entertaining profession - was Stephen Yan, in that dearly-missed show of our childhood called Wok with Yan. Through the show, Yan showed great skill in chopping whatever meat or vegetable at lightning speed; he regaled us with his cookware, his woks (he made it seem like everything can be cooked with a wok, and easily!); he amused us with his aprons that sported different funny statements every episode; he made us appreciate the sounds of boiling water and hissing oil, and made getting one's hands dirty in preparing dishes always seem fun. And we always envied the studio audiences who got to taste his cooking at the end of his shows. (And we believed it when they said the food was really good.) Locally, we had Nora Daza and Sandy Daza's cooking shows, but none, to me, had as much impact and entertainment value as Wok with Yan.

Stephen Yan: He made us all want to be cooks.
Everyone can cook. Learning to cook at grade school so that I can bring lunchboxes for my brothers, I had my share of near-disasters. I remember my eldest brother likening my first attempt at Chicken Curry to the 'Ectoplasm' in Ghostbusters. The dish didn't look palateable, but my brother ate it (it actually tasted alright), and he survives to this day. LOL!
So, to you who thinks that cooking is not for you, REALLY think again. You CAN cook, you just don't know it yet. The disasters are part of the learning process and with enough trials (and no casualties, hopefully), you will eventually get it right. 
Trust me. Don't be hard on yourself when a dish doesn't turn out right; you can always make corrections on your next try. Before you know it, cooking will have become second nature to you. :)

Happy Cooking!

Book Recommendations:
Wok With Yan [ 3rd Edition, 1983 ] Television Cookbook by Stephen Yan (Over Wok, Under Pay)
Nigella Kitchen: Recipes from the Heart of the Home
Mastering the Art of French Cooking (Volume 1)


  1. Aaahhh yes, Wok With Yan...He was a favorite too in our household as I was growing up. Through him I learned that there were different types of soy sauces...light,dark, etc., even though I was only really exposed to one...Silver Swan! :-)) And like you, I envied his audience every single freakin' week! Suffice it to say, I grew up loving food (obviously!) and loving cooking as well. Sadly, I have yet to still get myself a decent wok and REALLY cook like Yan! Fun post! Is there a 'Follow' button on here or just through FB? Hope all's well with you! :-))

  2. Hi Joy! Great to hear from you! Thanks for reading. I've always wanted to be a Chinese Food cook, and I realized as I was writing this post that Wok with Yan must have been my inspiration for it. The Wok - I also wish to have my own; he made it seem like some gadget to covet, the way we desire an Ipad now, hehe. But a good Wok must have a good home with a good kitchen. You should get yourself one now that you are in your new place, if I'm not mistaken.

    P.S. Aside from NetworkedBlogs, you can also submit your email in the Subscribe me button I had just added. :)