Ken Hom  譚榮輝

kenhomThe wok has been central to my life as a professional chef and food writer. But it was central to my childhood and youth as well. To grow up Chinese means enjoying wonderful foods prepared in the wok.

作為一名職業廚師與美食作者,鑊在我的生活中佔據著中心地位。不過在我的童年與青少年時期,它的地位亦同樣重要。中式成長意味著享用以鑊烹製的美食,以及學懂鑊在中國俗語中的重要性。

 

 

Article

 

The wok has been central to my life as a professional chef and food writer. But it was central to my childhood and youth as well. To grow up Chinese means enjoying wonderful foods prepared in the wok. It also means learning how central the wok is in the Chinese idiom. Terms such as "stir-frying the real estate" -- to engage in land speculation -- and "breaking the wok" -- to divorce or to break up the home -- indicate how deeply the wok and its telling metaphors have penetrated the language. The wok and its applications dominates the Chinese kitchen and is as well imbedded in our expressive understanding of all other aspects of life. Only a devoted Jungian psychologist could exhaust the rich content of its symbolism.

My mother put together three- or four-course meals every night in a tiny kitchen, ill-equipped by modern Western European standards. In my eyes, she did this quickly and smoothly. I never heard her complain of any technical problems. Our dinner was on the table within an hour of her coming home from work.

Usually, the dishes were simple: a soup, which we consumed as a beverage; one or two stir-fried dishes, either pork, chicken or sea food with vegetables, a simple vegetable dish; and, of course, the rice. The tool at the centre of this culinary creativity was the richly blackened, perfectly seasoned family wok, expertly manipulated by my mother. It was and remains the indispensable tool in the making of such wonderful foods. There were also a few steamers and pots for soup and rice, but the wok was the rightful ruling monarch of the batterie de cuisine.

Today, the wok still commands pride of place in my own professional kitchen. And increasingly, it is becoming central in many Western kitchens. My mother never would have predicted such a development among the non-Chinese. But the wok remains what it has always been, an extremely versatile, reliable, and easily mastered implement. Its enduring and endearing qualities are such that it needed only to be discovered to be loved and adopted. With today's hectic lifestyle, in which time in the kitchen is limited and yet people are so mindful of health and nutrition, the wok is something of a wonder. With the wok, the harried cook can prepare nutritious, delectable, and satisfying meals in a very short time -- just as my mother did so many years ago.

Now, the wok did not just happen to be. Chinese cuisine has accurately been defined as a cookery of scarcity. In a geographic situation of limited arable land and even more limited forests, providing food and firewood for so many millions of people was an enormous challenge. Over the centuries, the Chinese learned how to extract from nature the maximum amount of edible ingredients and to prepare them tastefully with a minimum amount of cooking oil and fuel. Out of these necessities, the wok was conceived and fashioned.

Traditional Chinese kitchens are sparely furnished. The substantial kitchen stove is usually in the shape of a large rectangle, with two openings above the fire chamber. Large round-bottom cast iron woks fit tightly on these openings so that all heat is transferred to the wok and none is wasted. Bricks insulate the fire chamber so that heat is retained and the proper cooking temperatures are quickly attained. Every tool in the kitchen is versatile, every technique extracts the full nutrition and flavor from ingredients, the foods themselves are prepared so that they cook quickly in a bit of oil, and not a British Thermal Unit is spent beyond what is necessary. The wok evolved to its perfection in this environment, warm stove and versatile wok becoming synonymous with hearth and home, at the centre of Chinese family life.

 

WHENCE THE WOK?

Wok is a Cantonese word; originally it referred generically to all cast iron pots. In Mandarin or pinyin Chinese, the word is guo. While the wok is used throughout China, it is the Cantonese who are the great travelers among the Chinese and thus it is their pronunciation of the term that has won worldwide acceptance. Archeological evidence indicates that the wok came into use shortly before the Christian era, that is, about two thousand years ago. This is not too long ago, by Chinese standards. Why it took so long to appear is related to another development, namely, the late arrival of China's Iron Age.

The European (ancient Greece) Iron Age began ca. 1200 B.C. but not until 500-600 B.C. do we find clear indications of Its beginning in China. Of course, iron and iron woks might have been in use earlier. Iron does rust away without leaving a trace. And literature and the arts usually pay no attention to prosaic utilitarian kitchen implements; nor were rulers likely to feel honored if upon their deaths woks were included among the burial artifacts. What reliable evidence we do have indicates that the wok was in wide use just about 2000 years ago.

The remarkable thing about China's late discovery of iron and its uses is the very rapid introduction of the technology of smelting and casting. By the 4th Century BC, China was already producing cast iron. Sometime during the Han Dynasty (206 BC-220 AD), cast iron pots, the woks ancestors, became standard cooking implements. In Europe, cast iron was not produced until late in the 14th century, and then only in very limited quantities: large-scale production did not occur until the 18th century. Cast Iron pots were among the first items that European iron masters produced but not until the 1700's did such pots appear generally in European kitchens.

Nor did the wok suddenly appear full-blown out of the head of some Chinese iron master. The first cast iron pots were on the order of cauldrons and large pans. Examples of such pots have been recovered from Han Dynasty tombs, among other places. No doubt the limitations of the then existing technology prescribed such sizes. The cauldrons (fu, in Chinese) were about 20 cm high with a rounded or flat bottom, and a curving globular body that narrowed toward the neck and lip. Some had two looped handles, one on either side just above the middle of the belly. Burn marks and soot remains indicate that the cauldrons were indeed functioning cooking tools. One such pot was discovered resting on a three-legged fire stand; another contained a clay pot (zetig) used for steaming.

These examples of the wok's predecessors are rare finds. Cast iron pots were expensive and only the wealthy could afford to have them (and the even more expensive bronze pots) In their kitchens. The common people still relied solely on earthenware cooking utensils.

However, over the next few centuries the iron master technology improved and the afford ability of the wok was greatly enhanced. The production of great numbers of cauldrons continued. In the Beijing (Peking) area, we have discovered six-handled pots with very wide rims. One example is 32 cm high, 51 cm across the rim, and 67 cm at the widest part of the body. These finds date from between the 10th and 14th centuries. A famous 14th century book, Work on Agriculture (Nong Shu), includes a line drawing of the six-handled pot. It gives us a very good idea of what these cauldrons looked like.

Another type of early wok came in various smaller sizes and was equipped with double handles, one on either side of the rim. Such examples, although quite large in size, resemble many of today's smaller implements. Burn marks and soot residues show that these pots were used for cooking. Given the size of most of them, it seems clear that they were used to cook noodles and other pastas to be consumed by large groups of people, perhaps in monasteries, noble houses, or village communal kitchens. Six handles would seem to demand at least three adult handlers. Incidentally, boiling and steaming are the two oldest and most used techniques in traditional Chinese cookery. The perfection of the modern wok allowed for the new technique of stir-frying, which elevated Chinese cookery to even higher levels of delectation.

Another type of pot from the period is the rather shallow, flat-bottomed, double-handled pan, with three legs to allow room for the cooking fuel underneath. The double-handed pots and three-legged pans were flat-bottomed and thus no doubt used for sauteing and frying.

These innovations in pot ware proceeded the rapid expansion of smaller cast iron woks that began to be common implements in Chinese kitchens by the 16th century. Together with improvements in farming and fishing techniques, and with the new types and greater amounts of foods and ingredients available to Chinese cooks, the wok was instrumental in bringing Chinese cookery to its classical status.

We know that as long ago as midway through the Chou Dynasty (12th century BC to 221 BC), rice was the principle food of south and central China, while millet served as the staple grain in the north. These grains were invariably cooked rather than being milled and turned into flour for pastas or baking. They accompanied or were added to soups and stews, the cooks using whatever other resources were available, such as meat, fish, vegetables, and seafood. Boiling and steaming were the common cookery techniques, with braising, frying, and roasting employed only occasionally. Stir-frying was noticeable by its absence.

Such simple foods, rather heavy but sustaining and nutritious, required simple utensils. Clay or ceramic pots, a rare bronze cauldron, these were the usual implements. There were three main types of pots in use for boiling and simmering (ting, li, hu) and three for steaming (hsien, tseng, fu). One type of pot would often sit upon another in the steaming “double boiler” process. The evidence indicates that these boiling and steaming designs have not changed very much over the past two thousand years.

Grains, vegetables, meat broths and stews remained the most common dishes during the Han period (206 50-220 AD). However, we know that the variety and amounts of available foodstuffs had increased significantly by the end of that dynasty. There is also much evidence to indicate a more sophisticated and discriminating taste, at least among the wealthier classes. Tombs of the Han period include paintings and sculptures of cooking pots, an indication that how one ate had become an important social distinction. Most of the cooking implements depicted are of cauldron size. Some stand on their own "fire legs;" others are made to rest on trivets or to fit into the openings of primitive stoves called “fire benches.” Many have handles, some have lips as well, and all appear to have tight-fitting lids.

The widespread locations of these tombs suggests that at least among the upper classes such implements were to be found as standard items in kitchens throughout China. There is some evidence that similar, if smaller and cheaper, cast iron implements were beginning to filter down the social scale even then. But it was a slow process.

The Han Dynasty witnessed much innovation in the culinary arts. People started milling wheat flour and thus were introduced such new delights as boiled noodles, steamed buns, and baked cakes. Chinese writings at the end of the Han period note that these foods were mainly the invention of the common people and, significantly, that other foods were brought into China from other lands. We do not know whether foreign ideas influenced the design of China's cooking pots.

During the few hundred years between the Han Dynasty and the Tang Dynasty (which lasted from 618 to 907), the most common cooking techniques remained boiling, simmering, spit-roasting, and baking. But there is a significant innovation noted at the beginning of the Tang period: stir-roasting.

We are now one step away from the stir-frying technique so closely linked to our woks. And sure enough, around 700 AD a wide pan, called the kuo, made its appearance in Chinese kitchens. The wok had arrived.

The wok may be seen as a logical/technological development out of the much larger cast iron pots that had been around for so many centuries. But there is more to it than logic and technology. China's forests had been suffering drastic reductions, an ecological disaster whose pace accelerated after the tenth century AD. Firewood and charcoal for fuel became enormously expensive. What was needed were cooking techniques and implements that used very little fuel, or to put it another way, that would heat up efficiently and cook foods very quickly, using a minimum of fuel. At the same time, the ironmasters, whose growing need for charcoal was helping to devastate China's forests, had developed their skill in casting different, smaller, and less expensive pots and pans. Hence the wok and the stir-fry technique.

It seems that the wok and its special techniques arose throughout China about the same time: similar needs and conditions generated common solutions. During the Sung Dynasty (960-1279), woks, long-handled pans, vegetable pots and steaming baskets became well known kitchen implements. Bamboo steamers are standard items at this time and the whole range of now familiar spoons, ladles, chopsticks, bowls and cups are in place. The essential tools of the classic Chinese kitchen were now established.

It was during the Sung Dynasty that the basic necessities of the peasants' cookery were defined: rice, salt, soybean sauce, vinegar, tea, and firewood. And with firewood so expensive, the wok moved to the centre of the kitchen. Because of its quick heating and excellent heat retention qualities; because of its shape, which focuses heat as the cook determines; because of its durability and relative cheapness; because of its versatility; because it required little fuel, little space, and so little cooking oil, the wok was an immediate success.

From 1280 onward, there are no major changes in the techniques and tools of Chinese cuisine. New foodstuffs are introduced -- the Chinese have always been open to new ingredients and techniques -- but the batterie de cuisine is thereafter essentially unchanged, except for one notable exception.

From 1279 until 1368, China lived under the domination of the Mongols, the so-called Yuan Dynasty. The Mongols were a non-Chinese nation and they did not become assimilated into Chinese ways. Rather, they retained their own customs, laws, and cookery preferences and techniques. They loved boiled mutton, which to this day most Chinese find unpalatable. Reflecting their nomadic culture, the Mongols loved mare's milk (kumys) and other dairy products, again, something that most Chinese prefer to do without.

There is one Mongol treat, however, that stayed on after the Mongols gave up their Chinese empire: Mongolian Fire or Hot Pot. (In Japan it is called “Ghengis Khan Hot Pot.”) These wafer thin slices of meat, boiled over on the special fire pot placed on a grill placed over an open fire or grilled on skewers, represent the most significant culinary treat and cookery technique imparted to Chinese cuisine by the Mongol influence.. The rest is silence.

With that period over, the Chinese culinary canon has remained essentially intact. The fire bench, the gas or electric cooker, the portable stove, the pots and sand pots, the sturdy wok, the Mongolian Fire pot, and the other simple bowls and implements have not changed. Refinements, yes; fundamental changes, no. Perhaps that is the universal Chinese way.

 

繁體文本

 

作為一名職業廚師與美食作者,鑊在我的生活中佔據著中心地位。不過在我的童年與青少年時期,它的地位亦同樣重要。中式成長意味著享用以鑊烹製的美食,以及學懂鑊在中國俗語中的重要性。“炒樓”(炒賣房地產)、“掟煲”(離婚或家庭破裂)等特定詞語,顯示出鑊與類似炊具及其生動的比喻如何深入滲透到語言當中。鑊及其應用主宰著中式廚房,同時也深深根植於我們對生活其他方面深具表現力的理解之中。只有熱衷於榮格學說的心理學家才能窮盡鑊的象徵之豐富內涵。

過去,我的母親每晚都在一間以現代西歐標準來看裝備不良的逼仄廚房裡,烹製出三四道菜的晚餐。在我的眼中,她做得又快又好。我也未曾聽她抱怨過任何技術問題。在她下班回家一個小時之內,我們的晚餐就已經上桌了。

這些菜式通常都很簡單:一個湯,我們把它當作飲品享用;一兩道炒菜——豬肉、雞肉或海鮮炒蔬菜,以及簡單的炒素菜;當然,還有米飯。這種烹飪創造活動的核心工具,就是在母親的熟練操縱下熏得漆黑、飽含味道的家庭用鑊。無論過去抑或現在,它都是烹飪此等美食不可或缺的工具。母親的廚房裡也有少許蒸籠和湯鍋,用以準備米飯和湯水,但鑊高踞於廚具之王的寶座可謂當之無愧。

今天,在我自己的專業廚房裡,鑊依然驕傲地佔據著掌控地位。而且它在許多西式廚房裡也變得越來越重要;我母親永遠不會預測到,在非華裔人士之中竟有此等發展。不過,作為一種用途廣泛、可靠且容易掌握的器具,鑊的特質一如既往。它是如此耐用又討喜,所需要的只是被人發現、喜愛及使用。如今人們生活頻繁,下廚時間頗為有限,但依然關注健康與營養,鑊就成為極佳工具。一鑊在手,忙碌的廚師便能在很短時間內烹製出營養美味又令人滿意的一頓飯肴——正如我母親多年前所做到的一樣。

言歸正傳,鑊的誕生並非偶然。中餐被精準地定義為“匱乏的烹飪”。從地理因素來看,中國耕地不多,森林更是有限;要為數以百萬計的人口提供足夠食物與柴火,這實在是一項巨大挑戰。經過多個世紀,中國人學會從自然界獲取最大量的可食之物,並以少量食用油及燃料將其烹製得美味可口。鑊的構思與設計正是立足於這些需求之上。

傳統中式廚房極為簡陋。堅固結實的爐灶通常為巨大的長方形,爐腔之上有兩個開口。圓底大鐵鑊嚴絲合縫地坐在開口上,使得所有熱量轉移到鐵鑊,半分都不會浪費。爐腔的磚塊起絕緣作用,如此便能保存熱量,並很快達到烹飪所需的適當溫度。廚房中的每一件工具都具有多種用途,每一種技巧都能提取食材的全部營養與味道;而食材本身已預先處理好,只需用少許油便能快速烹製,不會濫用一絲多餘的熱量。溫暖的爐灶與萬用的鑊成為“家”的同義詞,盤據著中國家庭生活的中心地位;在這樣的環境中,鑊進化到完美狀態。

 

鑊從何處來?

“鑊”是粵語用字(普通話念 huò),最初泛指所有用鑄鐵做的盆和鍋,在普通話裡稱作“鍋”(念 guō)。儘管中國各地都在使用這一工具,但由於廣東人在中國人裏最善遷徙,“鑊”的發音贏得全世界接納。考古證據顯示,鑊的使用始於基督紀元前不久,即約兩千年前。依照中國人的標準來看,這段歷史並不很長。鑊為何經歷如此漫長的歲月方才成型,此事關乎另一項發展,亦即姍姍來遲的中國鐵器時代。

歐洲(古希臘)鐵器時代肇始於公元前約1200年,而直至公元前500—公元前600年才有清晰跡象表明中國鐵器時代的開始。當然,鐵與鐵鑊可能在此之前已有應用,只是鐵可以銹化得不留一絲痕跡,而文學藝術通常對平淡無奇的廚房用具不屑一顧。假若將鑊加入殉葬品的行列,統治者恐怕也不會為此感到榮耀。從我們現有的可靠證據來看,鑊的廣泛使用僅始於大約兩千年前。

中國對鐵遲來的發現與應用之中,值得注意的是冶煉與澆鑄技術的迅速推廣。公元前四世紀前,中國已生產鑄鐵。在漢代(公元前206—公元220)的某個時期,鑄鐵鍋——鑊的祖先——成為標準烹飪用具。而在歐洲,鑄鐵直至14世紀後期才有極少量生產,大規模的生產遲至18世紀才出現。鑄鐵鍋是歐洲鐵匠的最早產品之一,但18世紀起才廣泛出現在歐洲廚房中。

鑊也不是在某些中國鐵匠的頭腦中忽然成熟的。最早的鑄鐵鍋近似於釜和大型平鍋;人們根據漢墓及其他地方的發現將其復原。毫無疑問,當時的技術限制了鍋的尺寸。釜高約20釐米,圓底或平底,釜體呈球型,頸部及釜口收窄。有些釜有兩隻環狀耳(即手柄),每邊一隻,略高於釜體中部。焚燒的痕跡與殘餘的油煙表明釜正是作炊具之用。其中一隻這樣的鍋被發現時放置於三足火爐托架之上,而另一隻則盛著一個陶罐用於蒸食。

在鑊的前輩之中,這些實例鮮有發現。只有富人才有能力為自家廚房添置價格高昂的鑄鐵鍋(以及更為昂貴的青銅鍋);陶器依然是普通人使用的唯一炊具。

然而,在其後幾百年間,鐵匠技術有所進步,鐵器的價格也大大降低了。釜的大量生產持續。在北京地區,我們發現了寬邊六耳鍋。其中一個高32釐米,鍋口直徑51釐米,鍋體最寬處直徑67釐米。這些發現可上溯到10—14世紀。14世紀名著《農書》收錄了一副這款六耳鍋的線描畫,使我們得以較為清晰地瞭解這種釜的模樣。

另一種早期的鑊有多種較小尺寸,並在鑊口配有雙耳,每邊一隻。這些款式的鑊與現在許多較小型的炊具很相似,只是尺寸比後者大。煙薰火燎的痕跡表明這些鍋同樣用於烹飪。考慮到它們多數的尺寸,似乎很明顯的是這些鍋也許在寺院、莊園或鄉村公共廚房裡使用,為大批人群烹煮麵條及其他麵食。六耳設計似乎說明至少需要三名成人才能搬動此鍋。順帶一提,煮和蒸是傳統中式烹飪最古老也最常用的兩種技術。現代的鑊設計完美,符合快炒的新技術,從而將中式烹飪提升至更高的享受境界。

當時的另一款鍋是帶有雙耳的淺身平底鍋,下方有三足,留出擺放燃料的空間。平底設計無疑說明這種鍋用於炒和煎。

鍋的這些革新推動了小型鑄鐵鑊的迅猛發展,使之在16世紀前開始成為中國廚房裡的常用工具。再加上農耕與漁業技術的進步,食材品種增加、數量增多,鑊助中式烹飪一臂之力攀升至經典地位。

我們知道,早在周朝(公元前12世紀—公元前221)中期,大米已是華南與華中地區的主要農作物,而小米則是北方的主食用糧。這些糧食並非碾磨成粉以製作麵食或烘焙類食品,而是毫無例外地用於烹煮。廚師會使用肉、魚、蔬菜、海鮮等他們能找到的任何食材,烹製湯水和燉菜以佐主食。主食也可直接加入湯水與燉菜之中食用。煮和蒸是常用烹飪技術,燜、煎、烤只是偶然使用。值得注意的是,炒的技術當時尚未問世。

如此簡單的食物儘管頗為肥膩,但營養豐富,能維持生命,烹調時只需簡單器皿。陶鍋或罕有的青銅釜是常用工具。用於煮和煨的主要有三種鍋:鼎、鬲、壺,用於蒸的也有三種:甗、甑、釜。在“雙層蒸鍋”模式中,一種鍋通常坐在另一種上面。證據顯示,這些蒸煮用具的設計在過去兩千年裡並無太大改變。

到了漢代(公元前206—公元220),穀物、蔬菜、肉湯和燉菜依然是最普遍的食物。然而我們知道,漢末之前食材種類與數量均大幅增加。同時也有許多證據表明,至少較富裕階層的口味已變得更精緻、更有分辨力。漢墓裡有關烹飪器具的繪畫和雕塑,說明人們如何用餐已成為彰顯重要社會身份的標注。這些被描畫下來的烹飪器具,大多數尺寸和釜一樣。其中有些器具本身即擁有作為支架的“足”;另一些器具的設計,則適於放置在三足火爐架或被稱為“火凳”的簡單火爐的開口之上。很多器具都有“耳”,有些還有突出的上緣,而所有這些器具似乎都配有嚴密蓋合的頂蓋。

從這些墓葬的廣泛分佈來看,上述器具起碼在中國各地上層階級的廚房中是通常必備的。一些證據表明,當時還有相似的鑄鐵器具,儘管形體較小、價格較低,也開始逐漸滲入社會各階層的生活;不過那是一個緩慢的過程。

漢朝見證了烹飪藝術的諸多革新。人們開始將小麥磨成麵粉,煮麺、蒸包、燒餅等新的美味因而誕生。據漢末的著述記錄,這些食品主要是老百姓的發明;而值得注意的是,其他食品亦從異域傳入中國。至於外國理念是否曾影響中國鍋的設計,我們並不知曉。

在漢、唐(618—907)之間的數百年間,最常用的烹飪技術始終是煮、煨、焙以及用炙叉燒烤。但初唐出現了一項重要創新:攪動式燒烤。

現在,我們距離快炒技術僅一步之遙,而快炒與鑊的關係又是如此緊密。確定無疑的是,大約在公元700年,一種被稱為“鍋”的寬口平鍋出現在中國人的廚房裡。鑊誕生了。

鑊可被視為大型鑄鐵鍋出現千百年後所衍生的一項邏輯性/技術性發展,但其意義遠甚於邏輯與技術。中國的森林面積一直在劇烈減少,而公元10世紀後這場生態災難的步調更為急促,柴火與木炭變得極其昂貴。人們需要的是使用很少燃料的烹飪技術與器具;換句話說,就是要用最少的燃料有效加熱並快速煮熟食物。同時,由於對木炭的需求上升,鐵匠成為毀滅中國森林的幫兇;但他們的鑄造技術也有所發展,能夠製造出各種更小、更便宜的鍋。鑊與快炒技術因而面世。

看來,鑊及其特殊技術幾乎同時在中國各地出現:相似的需求與條件導致相似的結果。宋代(960—1279),鑊、長柄平鍋、菜鍋和蒸籠成為眾所周知的廚具。當時,竹蒸籠是必備廚具,而我們現在所熟悉的全套餐具——湯匙、湯勺、筷子、碗和杯——亦已齊全。經典中式廚房的必備用具此時已然確立。

正是在宋代,農家的烹飪必需品被界定為“柴米油鹽醬醋茶”。由於柴火價格高昂,鑊便成為廚房裡的主角。它能快速加熱,又能很好地保持熱量;它的形狀能使熱量集中於廚師想要的位置;它既耐用又相對便宜,並且萬用;它只需要很少燃料和空間以及少許食用油——基於這些特性,鑊迅速流行開來。

1280年以降,中餐烹飪的技術與工具並無重大改變。新的食材被引進——中國人總能接受新材料、新技術——然而廚具在本質上幾乎未變,只有一個顯著的例外。

從1279年到1368年,蒙古人統治中國,號稱元朝。這個異族並未被中國人同化;恰恰相反,他們保持著自己的風俗、法律以及烹飪喜好與技術。他們喜歡煮羊肉,這是至今多數中國人仍覺得難以入口的。來自遊牧文化的蒙古人還喜歡馬奶(kumys)及其他乳製品,這些食物同樣為大部份中國人所不願接受。

然而,即使在蒙古人放棄了他們的中央帝國之後,仍有一款蒙古美食留駐在中國人的餐桌上,這就是蒙古火鍋——在日本,它被稱為“成吉思汗火鍋”。人們或在明火之上架設特製火鍋,投入薄薄的肉片涮熟;或將肉片串在烤叉上烤熟。這些薄薄的肉片,代表著蒙古人帶給中餐烹飪的影響當中,意義最為重大的美味與技術;而其他影響,已然被歷史湮沒。

元朝之後,中餐烹飪的標準在本質上一如既往。火凳、煤氣爐或電爐、便攜爐、鍋和砂鍋、堅固結實的鑊、蒙古火鍋以及其他簡單的碗和用具並未改變。樂於完善自身,拒絕實質變化,也許這就是普遍的中國生活方式。

 

简体文本

 

作为一名职业厨师与美食作者,镬在我的生活中占据着中心地位。不过在我的童年与青少年时期,它的地位亦同样重要。中式成长意味着享用以镬烹制的美食,以及学懂镬在中国俗语中的重要性。“炒楼”(炒卖房地产)、“掟煲”(离婚或家庭破裂)等特定词语,显示出镬与类似炊具及其生动的比喻如何深入渗透到语言当中。镬及其应用主宰着中式厨房,同时也深深根植于我们对生活其他方面深具表现力的理解之中。只有热衷于荣格学说的心理学家才能穷尽镬的象征之丰富内涵。

过去,我的母亲每晚都在一间以现代西欧标准来看装备不良的逼仄厨房里,烹制出三四道菜的晚餐。在我的眼中,她做得又快又好。我也未曾听她抱怨过任何技术问题。在她下班回家一个小时之内,我们的晚餐就已经上桌了。

这些菜式通常都很简单:一个汤,我们把它当作饮品享用;一两道炒菜——猪肉、鸡肉或海鲜炒蔬菜,以及简单的炒素菜;当然,还有米饭。这种烹饪创造活动的核心工具,就是在母亲的熟练操纵下熏得漆黑、饱含味道的家庭用镬。无论过去抑或现在,它都是烹饪此等美食不可或缺的工具。母亲的厨房里也有少许蒸笼和汤锅,用以准备米饭和汤水,但镬高踞于厨具之王的宝座可谓当之无愧。

今天,在我自己的专业厨房里,镬依然骄傲地占据着掌控地位。而且它在许多西式厨房里也变得越来越重要;我母亲永远不会预测到,在非华裔人士之中竟有此等发展。不过,作为一种用途广泛、可靠且容易掌握的器具,镬的特质一如既往。它是如此耐用又讨喜,所需要的只是被人发现、喜爱及使用。如今人们生活频繁,下厨时间颇为有限,但依然关注健康与营养,镬就成为极佳工具。一镬在手,忙碌的厨师便能在很短时间内烹制出营养美味又令人满意的一顿饭肴——正如我母亲多年前所做到的一样。

言归正传,镬的诞生并非偶然。中餐被精准地定义为“匮乏的烹饪”。从地理因素来看,中国耕地不多,森林更是有限;要为数以百万计的人口提供足够食物与柴火,这实在是一项巨大挑战。经过多个世纪,中国人学会从自然界获取最大量的可食之物,并以少量食用油及燃料将其烹制得美味可口。镬的构思与设计正是立足于这些需求之上。

传统中式厨房极为简陋。坚固结实的炉灶通常为巨大的长方形,炉腔之上有两个开口。圆底大铁镬严丝合缝地坐在开口上,使得所有热量转移到铁镬,半分都不会浪费。炉腔的砖块起绝缘作用,如此便能保存热量,并很快达到烹饪所需的适当温度。厨房中的每一件工具都具有多种用途,每一种技巧都能提取食材的全部营养与味道;而食材本身已预先处理好,只需用少许油便能快速烹制,不会滥用一丝多余的热量。温暖的炉灶与万用的镬成为“家”的同义词,盘踞着中国家庭生活的中心地位;在这样的环境中,镬进化到完美状态。

 

镬从何处来?

“镬”是粤语用字(普通话念 huò),最初泛指所有用铸铁做的盆和锅,在普通话里称作“锅”(念 guō)。尽管中国各地都在使用这一工具,但由于广东人在中国人里最善迁徙,“镬”的发音赢得全世界接纳。考古证据显示,镬的使用始于基督纪元前不久,即约两千年前。依照中国人的标准来看,这段历史并不很长。镬为何经历如此漫长的岁月方才成型,此事关乎另一项发展,亦即姗姗来迟的中国铁器时代。

欧洲(古希腊)铁器时代肇始于公元前约1200年,而直至公元前500—公元前600年才有清晰迹象表明中国铁器时代的开始。当然,铁与铁镬可能在此之前已有应用,只是铁可以锈化得不留一丝痕迹,而文学艺术通常对平淡无奇的厨房用具不屑一顾。假若将镬加入殉葬品的行列,统治者恐怕也不会为此感到荣耀。从我们现有的可靠证据来看,镬的广泛使用仅始于大约两千年前。

中国对铁迟来的发现与应用之中,值得注意的是冶炼与浇铸技术的迅速推广。公元前四世纪前,中国已生产铸铁。在汉代(公元前206—公元220)的某个时期,铸铁锅——镬的祖先——成为标准烹饪用具。而在欧洲,铸铁直至14世纪后期才有极少量生产,大规模的生产迟至18世纪才出现。铸铁锅是欧洲铁匠的最早产品之一,但18世纪起才广泛出现在欧洲厨房中。

镬也不是在某些中国铁匠的头脑中忽然成熟的。最早的铸铁锅近似于釜和大型平锅;人们根据汉墓及其他地方的发现将其复原。毫无疑问,当时的技术限制了锅的尺寸。釜高约20厘米,圆底或平底,釜体呈球型,颈部及釜口收窄。有些釜有两只环状耳(即手柄),每边一只,略高于釜体中部。焚烧的痕迹与残余的油烟表明釜正是作炊具之用。其中一只这样的锅被发现时放置于三足火炉托架之上,而另一只则盛着一个陶罐用于蒸食。

在镬的前辈之中,这些实例鲜有发现。只有富人才有能力为自家厨房添置价格高昂的铸铁锅(以及更为昂贵的青铜锅);陶器依然是普通人使用的唯一炊具。

然而,在其后几百年间,铁匠技术有所进步,铁器的价格也大大降低了。釜的大量生产持续。在北京地区,我们发现了宽边六耳锅。其中一个高32厘米,锅口直径51厘米,锅体最宽处直径67厘米。这些发现可上溯到10—14世纪。14世纪名著《农书》收录了一副这款六耳锅的线描画,使我们得以较为清晰地了解这种釜的模样。

另一种早期的镬有多种较小尺寸,并在镬口配有双耳,每边一只。这些款式的镬与现在许多较小型的炊具很相似,只是尺寸比后者大。烟熏火燎的痕迹表明这些锅同样用于烹饪。考虑到它们多数的尺寸,似乎很明显的是这些锅也许在寺院、庄园或乡村公共厨房里使用,为大批人群烹煮面条及其他面食。六耳设计似乎说明至少需要三名成人才能搬动此锅。顺带一提,煮和蒸是传统中式烹饪最古老也最常用的两种技术。现代的镬设计完美,符合快炒的新技术,从而将中式烹饪提升至更高的享受境界。

当时的另一款锅是带有双耳的浅身平底锅,下方有三足,留出摆放燃料的空间。平底设计无疑说明这种锅用于炒和煎。

锅的这些革新推动了小型铸铁镬的迅猛发展,使之在16世纪前开始成为中国厨房里的常用工具。再加上农耕与渔业技术的进步,食材品种增加、数量增多,镬助中式烹饪一臂之力攀升至经典地位。

我们知道,早在周朝(公元前12世纪—公元前221)中期,大米已是华南与华中地区的主要农作物,而小米则是北方的主食用粮。这些粮食并非碾磨成粉以制作面食或烘焙类食品,而是毫无例外地用于烹煮。厨师会使用肉、鱼、蔬菜、海鲜等他们能找到的任何食材,烹制汤水和炖菜以佐主食。主食也可直接加入汤水与炖菜之中食用。煮和蒸是常用烹饪技术,焖、煎、烤只是偶然使用。值得注意的是,炒的技术当时尚未问世。

如此简单的食物尽管颇为肥腻,但营养丰富,能维持生命,烹调时只需简单器皿。陶锅或罕有的青铜釜是常用工具。用于煮和煨的主要有三种锅:鼎、鬲、壶,用于蒸的也有三种:甗、甑、釜。在“双层蒸锅”模式中,一种锅通常坐在另一种上面。证据显示,这些蒸煮用具的设计在过去两千年里并无太大改变。

到了汉代(公元前206—公元220),谷物、蔬菜、肉汤和炖菜依然是最普遍的食物。然而我们知道,汉末之前食材种类与数量均大幅增加。同时也有许多证据表明,至少较富裕阶层的口味已变得更精致、更有分辨力。汉墓里有关烹饪器具的绘画和雕塑,说明人们如何用餐已成为彰显重要社会身份的标注。这些被描画下来的烹饪器具,大多数尺寸和釜一样。其中有些器具本身即拥有作为支架的“足”;另一些器具的设计,则适于放置在三足火炉架或被称为“火凳”的简单火炉的开口之上。很多器具都有“耳”,有些还有突出的上缘,而所有这些器具似乎都配有严密盖合的顶盖。

从这些墓葬的广泛分布来看,上述器具起码在中国各地上层阶级的厨房中是通常必备的。一些证据表明,当时还有相似的铸铁器具,尽管形体较小、价格较低,也开始逐渐渗入社会各阶层的生活;不过那是一个缓慢的过程。

汉朝见证了烹饪艺术的诸多革新。人们开始将小麦磨成面粉,煮麺、蒸包、烧饼等新的美味因而诞生。据汉末的著述记录,这些食品主要是老百姓的发明;而值得注意的是,其他食品亦从异域传入中国。至于外国理念是否曾影响中国锅的设计,我们并不知晓。

在汉、唐(618—907)之间的数百年间,最常用的烹饪技术始终是煮、煨、焙以及用炙叉烧烤。但初唐出现了一项重要创新:搅动式烧烤。

现在,我们距离快炒技术仅一步之遥,而快炒与镬的关系又是如此紧密。确定无疑的是,大约在公元700年,一种被称为“锅”的宽口平锅出现在中国人的厨房里。镬诞生了。

镬可被视为大型铸铁锅出现千百年后所衍生的一项逻辑性/技术性发展,但其意义远甚于逻辑与技术。中国的森林面积一直在剧烈减少,而公元10世纪后这场生态灾难的步调更为急促,柴火与木炭变得极其昂贵。人们需要的是使用很少燃料的烹饪技术与器具;换句话说,就是要用最少的燃料有效加热并快速煮熟食物。同时,由于对木炭的需求上升,铁匠成为毁灭中国森林的帮凶;但他们的铸造技术也有所发展,能够制造出各种更小、更便宜的锅。镬与快炒技术因而面世。

看来,镬及其特殊技术几乎同时在中国各地出现:相似的需求与条件导致相似的结果。宋代(960—1279),镬、长柄平锅、菜锅和蒸笼成为众所周知的厨具。当时,竹蒸笼是必备厨具,而我们现在所熟悉的全套餐具——汤匙、汤勺、筷子、碗和杯——亦已齐全。经典中式厨房的必备用具此时已然确立。

正是在宋代,农家的烹饪必需品被界定为“柴米油盐酱醋茶”。由于柴火价格高昂,镬便成为厨房里的主角。它能快速加热,又能很好地保持热量;它的形状能使热量集中于厨师想要的位置;它既耐用又相对便宜,并且万用;它只需要很少燃料和空间以及少许食用油——基于这些特性,镬迅速流行开来。

1280年以降,中餐烹饪的技术与工具并无重大改变。新的食材被引进——中国人总能接受新材料、新技术——然而厨具在本质上几乎未变,只有一个显著的例外。

从1279年到1368年,蒙古人统治中国,号称元朝。这个异族并未被中国人同化;恰恰相反,他们保持着自己的风俗、法律以及烹饪喜好与技术。他们喜欢煮羊肉,这是至今多数中国人仍觉得难以入口的。来自游牧文化的蒙古人还喜欢马奶(kumys)及其他乳制品,这些食物同样为大部份中国人所不愿接受。

然而,即使在蒙古人放弃了他们的中央帝国之后,仍有一款蒙古美食留驻在中国人的餐桌上,这就是蒙古火锅——在日本,它被称为“成吉思汗火锅”。人们或在明火之上架设特制火锅,投入薄薄的肉片涮熟;或将肉片串在烤叉上烤熟。这些薄薄的肉片,代表着蒙古人带给中餐烹饪的影响当中,意义最为重大的美味与技术;而其他影响,已然被历史湮没。

元朝之后,中餐烹饪的标准在本质上一如既往。火凳、煤气炉或电炉、便携炉、锅和砂锅、坚固结实的镬、蒙古火锅以及其他简单的碗和用具并未改变。乐于完善自身,拒绝实质变化,也许这就是普遍的中国生活方式。

 

Author 作者

 

At 62, Ken Hom, who resides in France and in Thailand but travels tirelessly all over the world, continues to appear regularly as celebrity chef, write new books and keep an involvement with restaurants worldwide. In June 2009 he was awarded with an honorary OBE for ‘services to culinary arts’, recognising his achievements and the impressive social and historical impact he has made on the way the UK has ‘adopted’ Chinese cuisine, which has now become one of the nation’s favourites.  In September 2007, he was awarded with an honorary doctorate from Oxford Brookes University for his ‘outstanding success within the international food world’ and to recognise him as one of the world’s most notable chefs with a highly successful career in the media, as an entrepreneur and as a supporter of charity and education. He was then appointed as Founding Patron of Oxford Gastronomica, the Centre for Food, Drink and Culture at Oxford Brookes University.

Since September 2008, he has become an ambassador for Action Against Hunger, the humanitarian charity which works in over 40 countries helping families to feed their children and build a sustainable life. www.aahuk.org

Widely regarded as one the world’s greatest authorities on oriental cooking, he is also the presenter of a documentary on the origins of noodles, ‘The Noodle Road’. This new five part documentary series for KBS (Korean Broadcasting Service) was a huge success when broadcasted in early 2009 and the series has now been sold to over 25 countries around the world. In addition, he is involved in developing a number of food and drink concepts in Thailand with the Bandara Hotel Group. His first restaurant, Maison Chin in Bangkok’s Bandara Hotel, opened in October 2008, has already been called ‘the best new modern Asian cuisine’ and has been awarded by Thailand Tatler as ‘one of Thailand’s Best Restaurants 2009.’

In November 2009, he launched his own range of Chinese Meals exclusively in Tesco. Of very high quality and with no additives, the initial range comprises 30 dishes.

Ken was born in Tucson, Arizona where his Cantonese parents lived after emigrating to American in the 1920's. Moving to Chicago, as he grew up he found American food unpalatable compared to his mother's cooking so she used to send him to school with a flask of hot rice and stir-fried vegetables.

Aged 11, he went to work in his uncle's restaurant, where he earned the equivalent of 30 pence per day. At 20 he headed off for California to study art history and French history. To pay for his university fees he started to give cookery lessons and quickly realised that this was where his heart really lay - especially with his native Chinese cuisine. He soon started teaching first in his home, and then at the California Culinary Academy (a school for professional chefs in San Francisco). He also travelled to France and Italy to explore gastronomy further.

His first book on Chinese cookery techniques was published in 1981 to much acclaim and then the New York Times published a major profile on him. Ken still regards the book and the NY Times article as one of the turning points in his career. From there, he landed his first television series in 1984 – Ken Hom’s Chinese Cookery which bore the same title as the book that many still regard as the ‘bible’. The show was an instant hit and was transmitted throughout the world. Foolproof Chinese Cookery, published in 1984, had a first printing of a then record breaking 350,000 copies. In 2009, the BBC celebrated the 25th anniversary of the book, which continues to sell after more than two decades in print. Since that first success, Ken Hom he has written 23 books, many translated in more than 12 languages, and has presented a further four television series – Hot Chefs, Ken Hom’s Hot Wok, Ken Hom’s Foolproof Chinese Cookery, and  Travels with a Hot Wok, which attracted millions of viewers.  A new book, Ken Hom’s Complete Chinese Cookbook, was published in January 2011, along with Ken Hom 10-0 Quick Stir Fry Recipes for www.mykitchentable.co.uk  and there is another book in the pipeline.  By December 2011, sales of the Ken Hom Wok reached 7 million nits in over 62 countires.  www.kenhom.com

His interests include travel, wine, cycling, swimming, British TV, reading and football events (he is a Manchester United supporter).


AWARDS AND HONOURS
• Honorary OBE by HM The Queen for services to the culinary arts 2009
• Honorary doctorate from Oxford Brookes University 2007
• Appointed Founding Patron of Oxford Gastronomica: the Centre for Food, Drink and Culture 2007
• Honorary Chairperson of The Institute for the Advancement of the Science & Art of Chinese Cuisine 1993
• Inducted in the prestigious Who’s Who of Food and Beverage in America as recognition of significant and lasting achievement in the culinary industry, 1990

July 2011

 

譚榮輝先生出生於美國,自十一歲起在中餐業工作,二十歲出頭即開始教授烹飪課程。其後成為烹飪書作家、電視節目主持人及顧問,並研發自己的炊具、麵條、醬 汁等系列產品。除講授烹飪技術,也研究、推廣中國烹飪的歷史與文化,例如撰寫本文。2009 年獲英女王頒授大英帝國勳章,以表彰其對烹飪藝術的貢獻。譚先生同時也是多家慈善機構的代表,從慈善工作中獲得許多樂趣。


谭荣辉先生出生于美国,自十一岁起在中餐业工作,二十岁出头即开始教授烹饪课程。其后成为烹饪书作家、电视节目主持人及顾问,并研发自己的炊具、面条、酱 汁等系列产品。除讲授烹饪技术,也研究、推广中国烹饪的历史与文化,例如撰写本文。2009 年获英女王颁授大英帝国勋章,以表彰其对烹饪艺术的贡献。谭先生同时也是多家慈善机构的代表,从慈善工作中获得许多乐趣。

 

 

Translator 譯者

 

Jiali Xu

Project Coordinator. Majored in Chinese Language and Literature, Writing, Folk Literature, and Anthropological Research Methods. With a particular interest in folk culture, she has participated in research projects of Lingnan area (i.e. the south of the Five Ridges), and wrote papers about Cantonese food culture, custom and etiquette, etc.

 

 

徐嘉莉

本項目協調員。教育背景:中國語言與文學、中國現當代文學(寫作學與民間文藝學方向)、人類學研究方法。對民間文學和民俗事象有濃厚興趣,除參與數個嶺南民俗課題的研究與編撰工作外,亦著有論文探討廣東飲食文化、禮俗文化等。

 

 

徐嘉莉

本项目协调员。教育背景:中国语言与文学、中国现当代文学(写作学与民间文艺学方向)、人类学研究方法。对民间文学和民俗事象有浓厚兴趣,除参与数个岭南民俗课题的研究与编撰工作外,亦著有论文探讨广东饮食文化、礼俗文化等。