So we had a friend over for dinner the night I cooked my pork & prawn fried rice. He’s an English guy, born and bred, about five heads taller than me and clearly far more intelligent. Because here I am cooking away, he pokes his head around the kitchen door and says “hey what’s for dinner?” to which I reply “oh, just fried rice… it’s got pork and prawns in it.. and egg.” and then he goes “oh right, yong chow fun” with a totally straight face.
What?? Is that what it’s called?
I would have keeled over laughing at his geniusness if I wasn’t so appalled by the abomination that I am – a completely useless Chinese person.
It might be a little difficult to believe but I actually love my Malaysian Chinese heritage. I may only be able to hold a conversation in Mandarin with a two year old, but the handful of years we spent growing up in Penang set in stone my appreciation of culture, food, second-world living and food. And yes, I totally meant to say that twice.
Southeast Asian food, especially in Malaysia, is always so packed with spices that a mere whiff is an assault to your senses like no other. Chillies, curries, tamarind (assam*… drool), herbs, spices ~ nothing does fragrance like Nonya does, a culmination of Malay, Indian and Chinese cuisines in the crucible that is Malaysia.
So anyway, I grew up with these incredibly in-your-face flavours, nothing, nothing was ever bland and clean food was considered… well, bland. And if someone did make something bland.. well heck that’s cool, we’ll just add a few chillies and five handfuls of spices and yes, there we go. Un-blanded.
My love for flavoursome ‘dirty’ food has grown with me and into my cooking. Nothing is ever bland, but I do have to keep an eye on my spice-happy hands to make sure I don’t kill the actual taste of the food.
I’ve even gotta watch my fried rice – rice! the plain of all plainness – but I dress it up with soy, sweet soy, oyster sauce, chilli flakes, pepper and the mysterious goodness that is char siu sauce. But I love it, and I try to spread the flavour-love as often as I can.
Hence inviting our said very clever English friend over for dinner.
And also sharing the fried rice with Danny for his Where’s My Porkchop project. For those of you who’ve never heard of Danny, drop by his website and check it out. Devillishly clever idea to coerce people into cooking for him, you’ll wish you thought of it first.
* Speaking of assam, does anyone know where I can get good assam laksa in London?
|Pork & prawn egg fried rice (yong chow fun)|
|3 cups of jasmine rice
1 takeaway box of BBQ pork with sauce
400 grams prawns, peeled
200 green beans, diced
1 large onion, diced
Light soy sauce
Chilli flakes to taste
Cracked pepper to taste