Dad’s Cooking

Since we talked about Mom’s Cooking, I thought to be fair we’d ask about Dad’s Cooking.

My dad cooked only on special occasions  – when he made his special dishes.  The one that immediately comes to mind was his kalbi.  He’d start with a big piece of short ribs like this;

Then he’d take that big chunk of meat and cut it criss-cross right down to the bone – so it would look like four fingers of meat attached to the bone.  Then he’d make his own kalbi sauce and soak the chunks of meat overnight.  The next day, it would be cooked over a hibachi with little bit burnt edges.  The sugar in the sauce would put a nice glaze on the whole thing.  Little bits of green onion and garlic locked between each piece of meat.  Simple to eat as we’d just bite off each “finger” of meat.  Then gnaw at the bone to get every piece of goodness out of it. That was his signature dish.

Other than that, he didn’t cook much.  He made pancakes or biscuits on some Sunday mornings before church.  And this one time he whipped up his own creation, having to do with vegetable soup, ground beef, and a variety of other things.  My brother thought it was awesome.  I just thought I was eating a beefed up vegetable soup.

My dad also used to make his owned pickled onions.  Those were delish!  He used to put in his home grown chili peppers.  I remember once he told me that after making a lot of pickled onions for a church get together, he had a hard time going sleep that night because the chili peppers he was using was still burning his hands.  He tried to wash it off with soap and water, as well as clean his hands with rubbing alcohol but to no avail.  But he got though it somehow.

Dad used to make his own kochojang.  Using ground peppers, he’d mix it up with miso, sugar, shoyu, and other stuff to make it.  And he always put it in the same glass bowl.  That was the kochujung bowl.  He also made this shoyu sauce he called chojang.  It had shoyu, sugar, sesame seed oil, garlic, chili pepper, chopped green onions, sesame seeds, and some other stuff.  And it was always in an old Skippy peanut butter jar with a piece of wax paper under the lid.

That’s about all I remember of dad’s cooking.  What are some of your memories of your dad’s cooking?

33 Responses to “Dad’s Cooking”

  1. adobo says:

    @Rod: How your dad prepped short ribs were like how most of my aunts did it. Something like the mango criss-cross cut, then enjoy. My mom preps it different though. Using that image you have, run a horizontal cut close to the bone but stop about 1/2 in from the end. Fold the meat out then repeat. You end up with a long piece of meat attached to the bone then criss-cross that piece. You gotta know the butcher real good for get that thick kine cuts of short ribs. And had to be charcoal fire to get that perfect slight papa’a finish.

  2. sameguydifferentchannel says:

    Hope everyone had a nice, safe Halloween!
    Gee, November already, but this hot muggy weather feels like August, no?

    • 4G says:

      Yeah, I thought we were out of woods with several cool days and nights last week, but nooo . . . . LOL

    • Seawalker says:

      Where did I hear that global-warming is causing the number of tradewind days in Hawaii to decrease from 300 days in a year to around 200 days now? Must be that smart kid, Guy H@gi doing the weather. Eh, he when grad McKinley you know, home of the best-looking’ chicks and the smartest guys around town! Hehehe

      • Seawalker says:

        But Lacy is tops in the traffic report in the morning.

        What? A 15-car accident? Yes, Lacy. A closure on the freeway this morning? No problem, Lacy. The govs car caught on fire? Okay, Lacy… keep talking to me.

        No news is bad news for Lacy! LOL

  3. Seawalker says:

    One time Dad was pi$$ed off at us. No, I take that back. He was furious. He was besides himself. I think we had our little own WWIII in the house and was fighting with each other (my brothers–silly Willy!) all afternoon. So out comes Dad’s belt. Likins’ like there was no tomorrow! We cry our a$$es off.

    So he decides to go cook something for us since it was near dinner time. We hear some eggs cracking. And then some frying noise in the wok. He seasons the fried eggs. Right on, popcorn! We were going to grind eggs. Dad made great eggs.

    But when we were young, we liked our fried eggs well-done. Well-done meaning no runny yolk. The yellow stuff was nasty. This was before our taste buds changed as we got to become teenagers and adults.

    Anyway, we dug into the fried eggs. Whoa! What the heck? It was soft-fried instead of well-done. How are we to eat this cr@p? We were all in shock. Yolk running on our rice in our Chawn-bowls. Get out of town!

    Still can see that grin on his face. With the belt in one hand, he watched as we enjoyed our fried eggs. If you didn’t finishing, boy, you knew what was coming next. Talk about scared-straight. Talk about capital-punishment. Talk about showing you who was the boss.

    I swear. We didn’t have a beef in our house for the next month. That fried eggs did a number on us.

    Today, I love loco mono with the yolk getting entwined into the brown gravy and hamburger steak and rice. The taste buds sure change over time. Or maybe it was more of a mental thing. That yucky, yellow, slimy, and shiny goo in the middle of the egg is not bad after all.

    Dad, you da man! LOL

  4. 4G says:

    I think that there was a bit of a line that defined cooking between my mom and dad at my house. In general terms, outside cooking – grilling, was done by my dad and the kitchen cooking was done by my mom.

    I remember helping my dad make the fire for the hibachi when on picnics, and at home every once in a while, too. Was kind of a lot of work. We would have to ball up the newspaper, chop the kindling wood, put it on top of the newspaper, then add the charcoal. Then, light the newspaper, wait and bit, then – fan. And fan. And fan. And fan. LOL. Then wait. And wait. And wait. 😉

    Man, those chimney fire starters are a godsend! 😉

    I remember my dad smoking a turkey in the kamado one year for Thanksgiving. It was really good! Good smokey flavor and very moist.

    My dad had basic cooking skills, but what I remember most is how “creative” he was in the kitchen. Pork and beans was cowboy food. And he would cut the crust off of sandwiches, and call them french fries. My sister and I would gladly play along with it (okay, we were young) and happily eat the fries along with our sandwiches.

  5. sameguydifferentchannel says:

    Off topic, but just got back from Kauai. Yesterday, I stopped off at 7Eleven in Lawai, which replaced the Lawai Menehune Mart. Had to check if they sell the original Lawai Manju…and sure enough, they do! A worker told me one of the original ladies still makes them. They sell original (red bean), apple, blueberry, guava, and coconut. Sooo neat how some things change and yet, some things remain the same.

  6. sameguydifferentchannel says:

    The taisho cook? Never!

  7. Seawalker says:

    You’d think Dad’s cooking was something he picked-up from his parents. Nope. I remember my Popo was the good cook instead. She never had professional training like my pops. Everything she made was learned and probably taught to her by my great-granny.

    Popo could make gau from scratch steamed in a pot for hours. She could make jai, with all the necessary fixins’ in the dish. Popo made this mochi soup with brown sugar as the enhancer. When my mother was in the hospital after giving birth, I recall helping her peel ginger for the pigs feet soup. Choke ginger. You added black vinegar, cider vinegar, whole raw chicken eggs, and Chinese things I can’t even pronounce. The soup is supposed to help clean the insides of the newborn mother. Go figure.

    Yeah, I think Dad was a good cook too. But some of us prefer simple, home-cooked meals over the fancy-smancy things. That was Popo. It was comfort food at its finest. It was inexpensive. It was down-right peasant’s food. But it was those dishes and things she made that I remember the most.

    Back then, rice was cooked in a pot instead of the rice cooker. Remember the finger knuckle used as a measuring device? Out of this world. Anyway, the bottom of the pot would produce a layer of crispy, crunchy rice. Popo would add some Chinese black tea to soften it just a bit. Then she served it to us in her chawan-bowl. Broke the mouth goodness. You can’t get that nowadays with the fancy rice cookers.

    Oh, I forgot. After Popo washed the rice before cooking, she would save the white-ish water for her orchids. Her orchids were beautiful. No need for fertilizer.

    • Seawalker says:

      The yin and yang of cooking, that’s the secret to being a good cook. Take ox-tail soup for instance. Used to watch my dad make this. Yeah, he was pretty good at it. But everybody has their own favorite place. To each his own, I say!

      Back to the memories. Dad would always take the time to explain things about cooking whenever I asked him. He didn’t want me to slave away in a hot kitchen so that’s why school was a priority for us. Again, to each his own.

      Dad says ox-tail requires removing all the fatty broth, throwing some carrots in there to sweeten it, use low heat to simmer to draw out the flavors from the bone, put in some peanuts because that’s what the local people want, and add your star anise early when you boil.

      And one more. Huh? Add a little bit of dried orange peel to balance the flavor and smell of the star anise. This is the kicker he said to use. Most people know about the star anise, but they do not know about the dried orange peel. The yin and yang of cooking, it comes from years of experience.

    • 4G says:

      LOL. Yan Can Cook! 😉

      • Seawalker says:

        LMPAO (pee = Pake)!

        Okay, who was Martin Yan’s cute Chinese assistant that assisted him on the show? First name is okay.

        If you give up, I’ll post it a little later. LOL

        • 4G says:

          Wow – I missed out 🙁 I never saw a cute assistant. Boo! 😉

          • Seawalker says:

            And her cute-as-a-button name was none other than TAMMI.

            Chinese cooking will never be the same again. Things heat-up in the kitchen, obviously. Hehehe

  8. mows says:

    My Dad never cooked; okay maybe he would cook breakfast on Sunday before forcing us to stup*d kendo. Remember he made egg drop soup with campbells chicken noodle soup. Didn’t like it at all but now that is the only way to go with lots of rice. Cannot remember him cooking anything else. He would carve the turkey on Thanksgiving and go to the auction to buy ahi. Start the fire in the hibachi. But really cannot recall him cooking anything. He would come home from work, take a nap then mom would prepare dinner and call everyone to the table. He would take us out every friday night to the bank, then dinner then grocery shopping at Gems, Safeway, Emjays, Times or Foodland. Remember Chun Hoon Nuuanu and another store across from where McCully shopping center is now. Those were more saturday day time shopping though and not friday night. Sizzlers (Airport or Salt Lake) or Flamingos by where Restaurant Row is, park at the gas station, maybe adventurous and try hole in the wall places like I remember a place by the harbor and a place on beretania by where auntie pastos and goodwill is. Also chinese at Aiea, Pearl City, Kalihi, Waimalu.

  9. jaydee11 says:

    My dad was an awesome cook! When he entered the US Navy he didn’t know a thing about cooking but, as with most Filipino’s in that era, he was assigned to the galley, specifically to cook for the captain. He read and learned fast how to cook and mastered it. His first meal for the captain, Vienna sausages, lol.

    He made the best dinner rolls, cinnamon rolls, beco (sp?) you name it he could cook it.

    • adobo says:

      @jaydee11: Same with my dad, he’s an awesome cook. He was a cook in National Guard and he could cook anything. Now days everybody do take out or instant. My dad, everything from scratch. My mom cook local, no recipe or measuring. My dad still had his old recipes from military cookbooks. He can be particular and critique his cooking and how it could be better. Nuff already, taste good!

  10. Seawalker says:

    Pork hash with duck eggs. Braised short-ribs and a reduced mushroom sauce. Chinese chicken salad. And of course, oyster sauce chicken with cake noodles. Dad made and thought of it first. Then came the followers at the restaurants.

    Dad was not a PT cook. He was not a closet-cook. He was the real-deal. Trained at a professional cooking school. Dad could make anything. With only eggs, ham and leftover onions in the fridge, he would whip-up a mean egg fuyong dish for us to enjoy. No such thing going hungry at our house.

    Dad cooked for many Chinese-style weddings in his time. On Mother’s Day, when it was the busiest day of the year for all restaurants, dad cooked non-stop from morning to night. Dad trained many cooks under his direction. He would demonstrate the proper technique of the wok. He instructed them to always hold the cleaver with a clenched-fist. Why? Your knife if your best friend in the kitchen. It is so easy to get distracted and let your knife slip on you.

    Those were my younger days. Dad never went to a fancy college nor did he drive a flashy car. Dad never missed a day of work. But most of all, dad loved to cook. Dad knew that cooking and eating brought out the joy in people. As a bonus, when people loved your food you cooked, it made it that more special.

    My dad is no longer around. He’s up there still keeping an eye out on us rascals. Dad never said much. His actions spoke volumes compared the talking that occurs. And when dad got into a disagreement, his advice? Talk it out until you come to a conclusion. When you’re done, he’d cook something good that both of you would enjoy.

    That was my father, the cook!

    • Rodney says:

      Thanks Seawalker – I was hoping to hear about your dad’s cooking.

      • Seawalker says:

        After years of working in the hotel, Dad finally decided to open his own restaurant. In fact, both of my parents worked there 7 days a week, 365 days. I grumble about my holiday, vacation, sick leave, and other benefits at work. Shame on me!

        The true test of a “known” restaurant almost comes from being mentioned in Pomai’s list of eateries of yesterday. I’m proud to say it made the list.

        Dad sent all of us off to college. He paid for all of our tuition. Whatever part-time jobs we held, it was our own spending money. Dad never asked for a dime from us for rent. Some of us took longer than 4 years to graduate. Dad did not say anything about it. Silence was golden. Things take care of itself, even if meant paying an extra year of college tuition. That’s the lesson I learned from Dad now that I’m also a dad.

        Thank you, Dad!

    • 4G says:

      Yeah, what @Rod said . . . .


  11. Kage says:

    When Dad cooked it was mostly the same thing, hot dogs and sauerkraut. My sister loved this combination. I liked the hot dogs. Of course it was red hot dogs. Not sure if it was Redando or not.

    I do remember Dad making candy once. His mom used to make the candy she called Date Nut Loaf. It is basically brown sugar, butter and dates. Dad loved it and attempted to make it. Not quite like Grandma’s.

    • Rodney says:

      Costco gives out sauerkraut with their hot dogs – if you ask for it. That’s how I learned to eat it. Mmmm

      • mows says:

        My mom would make this spareribs thing with sauerkraut. It was just braised then stewed in the sauerkraut till soft. Whooo broke the mouth with rice. Could eat bowls and bowls of that.

      • Kage says:

        Did you notice now that Costco only has Hot Dogs? No Polish Dogs….?? WWD?

        • Seawalker says:

          Yeah, good thing they get chili now at Costco concession. Chili Dogs with sauerkraut, onions, ketchup, mustard, relish, and top it off with a little deli mustard.

          Wash it down with a soda and go for 3 more refills. Heartburn city, here I come! Hehehe

  12. Mark Shelby says:

    My Dad never really cooked much in the kitchen. He loved to BBQ anykine meat outside.

    First he bought a large tall original style Hibachi. Then our home parties got way bigger! We could have 200 friends at our house on any given weekend.

    So just before one of our biggest parties in the Summer of 1967 Dad brought home a 55 Gallon Drum! And Dad called our good Samoan friend to come over and torch cut the drum in half, long ways and turn it into one massive BBQ! This was really popular to do at this time.

    You cut the drum in half, tall ways. Then you weld on re-bar for da feet. Then you put hinges on so you have a top lid. Then you cut a small hole on the top lid for the smoke to draw through.

    Then you use a metal grate with holes for the cooking grill surface. We used Kiawe wood from the back of our house to cook. I always cut it months in advance so it would dry out.

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