BUTTERING UP THE BOSS
Inviting the boss home to dinner. By David Basckin
INVITING THE BOSS HOME FOR dinner is a cartoon clichè as venerable as Dagwood and Blondie. But just because it’s a clichè in some hands, doesn’t mean that it can’t become a highly focused work of art in yours. The art here, is the art of persuasion. Your meal will become a message, a message that tells The Boss that you are the one to make her or even his international marketing dreams come true.
Come, dreamer. Let us set the stage: you are a thrusting middle manager with a exponentially growing software start up, whose plan it is to burst onto the global scene. Your meal – see it as a kind of spell, if you like – will magic your boss into choosing you to head the expatriate team. To do this, you cook for him and his partner. This is going to be news for The Boss, whose experience of your feeding habits has been restricted to the wegneemetes you consume in front of your screen back at the office.
But when The Boss arrives for dinner, no greasy takeaway greets the eye. Instead, fragrant bowls of Banh Cahn Tom Cua ornament your table. Good Evening, Vietnam! This massive culinary blast cracks every last clichè. Banh Cahn Tom Cua 1 chicken at least 1.5 kgs, sliced up 20 slices fresh root ginger 2 pele pele chillies 6 tablespoons of peanut oil 250g streaky bacon 20 medium pink prawns 4 squid tubes dhania for garnish Vietnamese fish sauce (from your local Asian supermarket) 6 giant spring onions Noodles
1 First, create a light consomme, as your base. This is the carcass of a fresh chicken, lightly simmered for 40 minutes with 20 slices of root ginger, one onion and two tiny Zululand pele-pele chillies. Pour through a sieve, discard the solids, reserve the consume under cover.
2 While this is going on, lightly stirfry in three tablespoons of peanut oil, the sliced meat from the chicken, with 250 grams of streaky bacon, plus the bulb end of five or six Lisbon Giant spring onions.
3 Then peel and clean 20 fresh prawns. Do this by pulling off the heads and cutting through the shell with small dressmaking scissors or the splendid mini-shears on your Swiss Army knife. Remove and dump the organ that coy sissies call “the vein”, rinse and pat dry with a paper towel. Slice three or four superfresh squid tubes into thin rings. Toss the prawns and squid in a frying pan of hot peanut oil (three tablespoons) for thirty seconds max. Remove them from the heat.
4 Bring the consomme to the boil, salt to taste, remove from heat, add chicken, streaky bacon, prawns and squid, replace the lid and set the pot aside for fifteen minutes before serving. Prepare an excess of fresh egg noodles. For each serving, choose a large bowl. Remember, this is a main dish and the serving size must reflect this. Fill half with noodles and top up with the Banh Cahn Tom Cua. Garnish each bowl with a frond of fresh dhania and serve with Vietnamese fish sauce as a optional extra for each diner. Banana dessert – per diner 2 perfect, peeled bananas 2 tablespoons honey 2 tablespoons whiskey sprig of mint 1 Serve cool bananas under a hot flood of honey and whisky sauce. Make this by gently heating honey in a saucepan, adding whisky at the last moment before pouring it over the peeled bananas. Garnish with mint.