On their wedding day, brides usually share a first dance with their father.
I did not.
It’s not that I didn’t want to. It’s just that when it comes to elderly Asian-American parents, you know you’re treading dangerously if you dare bring up any idea that involves them making even the slightest spectacle of themselves.
Oh, my shy, reserved Mom made it perfectly clear that if I made her get up and dance in front of everyone, she wouldn’t come to my wedding. I kid you not.
On top of that, my husband was quite sure his own father wouldn’t want to be two-stepping anytime soon. No, siree. My husband’s mother also was bedridden and couldn’t attend our nuptials. So, in the end, we decided to do away with that whole parental tradition and just share only the one dance with each other as man and wife.
I sometimes wonder, though, if I still should have taken my Dad’s hand and led him through one father-daughter twirl.
You see, my late-Dad actually liked to dance.
Growing up, I never saw him dance with my Mom. But I remember him telling me how when he was young, he would go dancing with friends in Oakland and San Francisco.
It may be hard for my friends and family to picture my soft-spoken Dad tearing up the dance floor. But I can. As a youngster, I still fondly remember goofy moments when I’d put a 45 rpm record on the turntable (yeah, remember those?) and dance with my Dad at home. Often, it was the Jackson 5 blaring, as my Dad and I would shake our hips and arms like maniacs. He’d twirl me around as I’d giggle like crazy. As the song ended, our cheeks would flush and we’d be out of breath.
I’m not sure he ever did this with my two older brothers. That, I can’t picture. But being the youngest and only daughter in the family had its privileges.
For instance, whenever my Dad broiled steaks for dinner, he always gave me the filet mignon. It was small, it was tender, and it was perfect for “Daddy’s little girl.”
To accompany it, there were always roasted potatoes and his own version of steak sauce. It’s basically doctored hoisin sauce. I’d watch him stir it up in a coffee mug or plastic cup, adding a little of this and a little of that, until the taste and consistency were to his liking.
He’d place the juicy, seared steaks on plates, then spoon some of the thick, dark, glossy sauce on top.
I don’t remember everything that went into that simple sauce. But I can make a close approximation to my Dad’s version. The sauce is a little sweet, a little savory, a little tangy.
And its flavor never ceases to dance on my palate.
My Dad’s Steak Sauce
(Makes about 3/4 cup)
1/2 cup hoisin sauce
1/4 cup ketchup
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
1/2 teaspoon soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon grated ginger
1 to 2 teaspoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
Freshly ground black pepper
Mix all ingredients in a small bowl or cup. Store, covered, in the refrigerator until ready to use. Will keep for a couple of days.
— From Carolyn Jung