Chow with Lau on You TubePublished On Tuesday 19 May 2020 by Sticky Beak
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During a recent scrolling sesh on good ol’ Facebook I came across one of my old school friends, Mike, demoing how to make Crispy Chilli Beef. Now, I don’t know about you, but this is one of our fave Chinese dishes in the nest –His Nibs is positively addicted to it! I wasn’t about to cook dinner or anything and, to be honest, most of these ‘cook with me’ posts are duller than ditch water so I wasn’t expecting to engage too much. Just goes to show you should never have pre-conceptions!
Mike has always been a grand chap; one of those people that are uber-friendly, funny and generally someone you want to be around. Nothing seems to have changed over the years – he’s still got that open manner and friendly patter that has you paying attention, which is exactly what happened.
Usually you’ll find Mike behind the camera rather than in front of it, thanks to him being a successful professional photographer; look him up at Michael Lau Photography and get him booked quick before all those folk re-arranging their events get in before you!! Thanks to Covid-19 most of his usual work has dried up; events are non-existent, as are weddings and concerts – all usual haunts of photographers. Not one to rest on his laurels, Mike decided to fill his time with his other passion in life: cooking.
When we were younger, Mike lived at the top end of our road; I was down the bottom end and there were loads of our mutual mates scattered in between us. I had a Saturday job in the corner shop that was opposite the Lau residence and often served Mike’s Granny – a true Oriental Matriarch. I made the mistake once of not immediately handing her the newspaper when she’d put the money on the counter (I was serving another customer at the time!); suffice to say, I never made that error again! When you got to know Granny though, she was a true diamond; family was everything to her, and along with that came teaching morals, manners and the means to feed themselves. We developed a friendship of sorts over the course of my time in the shop and I remember her bringing me fresh Lychees on several occasions when she’d learned that I loved them; as I say, she was a real diamond (tough, but your best friend if she liked you).
Anyway, Granny lived with Mike, Mike’s siblings and Mike’s parents who were both Chefs – no shortage of yummy food in that household. Sometimes the mouth-watering smells would waft across the street from their kitchen and into the corner shop which often made my belly growl in anticipation! I guess it should come as no shock then, that Mike would love cooking and, along the way, pick up some tips from his folks on how to REALLY cook their cuisine.
With time on his hands (and also to keep his creative mind occupied) Mike thought why not cook some of his favourite dishes and some iconic Chinese meals, and video himself doing it so that everyone could do it too. You all know that I’m not much of a cook (great at eating, crap at the execution of cooking!) but I found myself watching Mike making the Crispy Chilli Beef and thinking “I reckon I could have a go at this”. Now, if I’m thinking this, I can safely say that you’ll all find it a cinch!
Mike has an easy way of talking that flows along as he’s chopping, slicing and dicing, but what I really like is the fact that he doesn’t do things ‘perfectly’; there’s all the elements chopped roughly to the same size, but not rigidly uniform, and the meat is a normal cut that you’d get from your Butcher or supermarket instead of being a camera-ready, picture-perfect, fat trimmed and sinew devoid specimen. Mike makes no bones about the fact that this dish isn’t going to do your waistline any favours if you’re chowing down on it regularly, but does point out that everyone should have a treat now-and-then; my kind of bloke. Along the way, you get to know a few tricks of the trade, so to speak, including how to get a super-crispy outer that yields that oh-so-satisfying crunch when you bite into it.
All this is done in a regular domestic kitchen like thousands up and down the country, and Mike cooks like the majority of Joe Public: devoid of a pinny/apron, messy hands when he’s mixed stuff together and utensils scattered around after they’ve been used. There’s no pretence or airs and graces to ‘Chow with Lau’ and this is what makes it so blooming watchable and, more importantly, accessible. Watch out too for a star of the future; Mike and his wife’s son can be heard in this video and he’s just too cute!
Those of us who are friends with Mike have been treated to several ‘tutorials’ on his FB page, but for now there are just two recipes and videos on the You Tube ‘Chow with Lau’: the Crispy Chilli Beef one, and Salt and Pepper (Chilli) Chicken. Mike will be posting new content very regularly though, so subscribe to his channel in order to not miss anything.
Among the flotsam and jetsam of You Tube, this is one channel you definitely need in your life and don’t want to miss. ‘Chow with Lau’ on You Tube; you heard it here first, folks: you can thank me later.