Many families can afford domestic help in Beijing, but a good ayi is hard to find. Latvian mom Linda Smite couldn’t be happier with hers, Zhang Fengmei, whom she took on full-time on the recommendation of a previous employer. “I have a wonderful ayi who is eager to learn new things,” she says. Smite lives in the Kerry Residences with her husband Karlis Smits, a senior economist at the World Bank, and their 14-month-old son Martins. The family moved here from Washington DC; this is their first overseas assignment.
Although Smite and Zhang Ayi don’t speak each other’s languages, they manage by communicating through translation software. “I’ve taught her to make several dishes, for example crème brûlée,” says Smite. “After we make something together the first time, I print the Chinese translation for her.” As good as her cooking skills are, Zhang Ayi is not a convert to Western food. “I prefer Chinese dishes,” she says. “My previous employers mostly ate Chinese food at home, but this family prefers foreign food.” Martins immediately contradicts Zhang Ayi’s comment by demolishing a baozi. “He once ate 30 jiaozi within two meals,” says his mom.
Our teacher for the day is Christina Bai of Christina’s Catering Beijing. Originally from Inner Mongolia, Bai has lived in Beijing for 15 years. Her father was a chef at the American Embassy. After learning her trade at his side, she started her own business in 2007. Bai initially focused on catering, but soon realized there was a demand for ayis to learn how to make Western-style dishes. Today, Bai chooses to make chicken piccata. Nutritious and quick, this simple dish can be served with pasta or a side salad. Bai also recently collaborated with American CCTV personality Pat Brown on her Chinese language cookbook, Small Oven, Great Baking, which contains easy baked recipes for counter-top ovens. Their book is available on Amazon China (z.cn) and dangdang.com.
Chicken Piccata 柠檬水瓜柳鸡
2 chicken breasts 新鲜的鸡胸肉， 蝴蝶切。片成对等的两片
Salt and pepper 盐和胡椒适量
½ cup flour 面粉或玉米淀粉
Camellia oil 山茶油适量
½ cup chicken stock 罐装鸡汤或新鲜鸡汤
3 tbsp butter (optional) 黄油 （可选，但加入黄油味道更好）
¼ cup capers 水瓜柳
1 onion 红葱头
Juice from 2 lemons 鲜柠檬或柠檬汁
Sliced lemons 柠檬切片做装饰
Finely chopped flat leaf celery肥叶西芹
• For additional flavor, top the dish with grated Parmesan.
Christina’s Catering Beijing
To contact Bai, call 152 3165 9768 or
email email@example.com. Visit her website at www.wix.com/tinasworkshop/tws.
1.Butterfly cut the chicken breasts, and pound them to make them thin and tender. Season with salt and pepper. Cover them in flour. 把鸡肉片成两片，用锤子捶打松软或放入柠檬汁浸泡使其细嫩。 然后用胡椒盐腌制鸡肉再裹上面粉。
2.Put a frying pan on a high heat; add the camellia oil and one tablespoon of butter. Brown the chicken on both sides, and set it aside in a roasting dish. 低火在平底锅里倒入一些山茶油（或橄榄油，喜欢可以融入些黄油增加口味） 把鸡肉两面煎六成熟，拿出放置一边。
3.In the same pan, melt the rest of the butter and stir in the chopped onion. Pour in the chicken stock. Add the capers and lemon juice. To thicken the stock, add some flour to the pan and stir. 再加入一些黄油炒葱头，然后倒入鸡汤，水瓜柳，柠檬汁炖煮，再加入一点面粉做浓稠的汁儿。
4.Pour the mixture on the chicken breasts, and place them in the oven at 370°F (170°C) for 20 minutes. 把鸡胸放入混合物，烤箱开170度。烘焙20分钟。 简单的方法也可以不用烤箱。
5.Garnish the finished dish with sliced lemons and flat leaf celery.
This article originally appeared on page 30-31 of the March 2015 Issue of beijingkids. Click here for your free online copy. To find out how you can obtain a hard copy, contact firstname.lastname@example.org