Friday, March 18, 2011

AFTER SHOW EATS: MARTHA LIAO AND HAO JIAN TIAN



A few weeks ago, the New Yorker ran a brief bit on Hao Jian Tian, the famed bass opera singer who left China in 1983 having heard only three arias, to end up debuting with the Met in the 1991/1992 season and singing in major opera houses around the world.

While Tian's story is an incredible one (you can read about it in his memoir Along the Roaring River: My Wild Ride from Mao to the Met, which was also made into a PBS special), the New Yorker piece is actually about Dr. Martha Liao, Tian's wife. It seems that, no matter where Tian ends up singing in the world, Liao would make a Peking duck dinner after each of the performances for the singer and their friends, and the dinners became well known in the opera world (as an example, it's referred to in this feature of Tian and the bass baritone Shenyang in Opera World, and donors to a recent Colorado PBS drive were treated to one of Liao's dinners).  In fact, the couple were guests on Martha Stewart, where she divulged her recipe.

(Photo: Paul Docktor for the Denver Post)

From the piece:
Drying the ducks leaves the skin taut so that it separates from the melting fat during roasting, producing glassy-crisp morsels. The dried ducks roast for three hours, after being lacquered with a ginger-and-honey sauce that was something of a secret until Liao divulged it last winter on “The Martha Stewart Show.” The crackling skin, moist duck meat, slivers of cucumbers and scallions, and dabs of fruity hoisin sauce are stuffed into steamed yeast buns.
The duck alone would be a culinary marvel. But Liao serves it as part of a complex meal that usually begins with pork-filled pot stickers, followed, perhaps, by a block of sugar-glazed pork belly, spareribs in a satiny coating of rice flour, black mushrooms, mashed fava beans, spiky white rice balls, and carp flavored with ginger, cilantro, garlic, and soy sauce.
Read Mimi Sheraton's New Yorker piece here, and get Liao's recipe here.

Joe.
the clutterer Web Developer

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