The Last Chinese Barbeque

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This weekend, when you are out playing, spare a thought for Si-fu, as captured by the talented Francis Lam. The man you see in this photograph (taken by a Gourmet magazine photographer) has been roasting 80-pound pigs every day for decades, watching every moment for bubbles in the skin and gently tapping out the air with carpenter nails. He can’t earn much money. He doesn’t cut corners to save it. And he is one of the last remaining barbeque masters in North America.

I don’t want to tell you too much. We want you to go read Francis Lam’s piece instead. (It is also printed in the August issue of Gourmet.) If, after reading it, you don’t come away with an abiding respect for Si-fu and his dedication to craft — as well as fascinated respect for Lam’s dedication to his craft — then we’re not sure what to tell you. Read this with the right attention and you will be changed.

Also, after reading this description, you’re bound to want some of that roast pork:

“After the rush, he cut me a piece and I saw what all the work was for: crisp yet dissolving skin, tender meat, and lush, velvety fat. Textures in perfect balance and contrast. The flavor, too: Earlier, Si-fu had me cure the splayed-open pigs, massaging them with fistfuls of salt and sugar until the carcasses looked like snow at the moment you realize there’ll be no school tomorrow. The cure has only a few hours to penetrate, giving each bite a heavily seasoned side and a clean, juicy side. The flavor was sweet, salty, complex, and then mild and pure, as fascinating as it was delicious. Si-fu looked at me. ‘Quality,’ he said.”

If anyone reading this is near to Toronto, please go to Ho Ho Bbq for us.

2 thoughts on “The Last Chinese Barbeque

  1. I live in Toronto!! And can attest to it’s deliciousness (and the deliciousness of many other BBQ places serving up good roast pork in the burbs and old Chinatown)! We are spoiled for good eats here – thanks for reminding me on a rainy cool day that feels more Seattle than Toronto (I think we switched weather this summer).

  2. I read the article from Gourmet magazine and it was very moving. There is nothing like tradition and reverence around deserving food. Food can be a legacy. Thank you for bringing this article to our attention. :)

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