Thursday, August 10, 2006

Hanging up My Carbo?

If I should ever decide to skip my carbohydrates, which basically means skipping my bowl of rice at mealtimes, the scene might look like this!
Hanging up My Carbo?
And I can just hear my mum's voice in the background, "stop playing with your food!", which obviously, I was with this particular set-up! Saw a photo once where a cup of tea and a piece of toast was hanging off the wall, and ever since then, I've had this urge to re-create a similar scene with an Asian twist - a bowl of fried rice, a pair of chopsticks and a cup of Chinese tea, coupled with a bit of horizontal play, and some judicious use of lighting - and this shot has become one of my personal favourites.

Having attempted and failed miserably to 'hang up my carbos' at some point in my past when I tried the Atkins diet, I can only surmise that my Chinese upbringing with rice, porridge or noodles at every meal has created a 'fan-tong' out of me (Cantonese for 'rice-bin', a term used to denote a person who can't survive without her daily intake of rice).

How much of a 'fan-tong' am I? Well, let me tell you that there are times when a simple bowl of fluffy white rice with a spoonful of soy sauce drizzled over it looks pretty satisfying to me. Can you then imagine what a bowl of fragrant fried rice will do to me?

I first discovered Fried Olive Rice when I read Sylvia Tan's Mad About Food back in 1997. I had never used preserved olive vegetables, and my first encounter with this pungent, salty and absolutely delicious preserved vegetable was a knock-out 'give me another bowl, please' experience. Just a couple of tablespoons of the olive vegetables fried together with minced pork and seasoning, creates a fragrant mixture which, when stirred with cooked white rice, becomes a most satisfying meal for one or two or even an entire horde of relatives.
A Bowl or Two of Sustenance
Bottles of preserved olive vegetables can easily be found in our local supermarkets (I've seen 2 different brands stocked at NTUC Fairprice outlets).
  • saute some chopped garlic in hot oil before adding 300g of minced pork (recipe works just as well with minced chicken or minced beef, depending on your preference) and 3 tablespoons of the preserved olive vegetables (to reduce the oil in the dish, I try to drain away as much of the oil in which the olive vegetables are preserved in - which by the way, when stirred into the white rice, imparts a slightly light olive green hue to the rice)
  • stir-fry the minced meat mixture and add 1 tablespoon of fish sauce and a couple of heavy-handed shakes of white pepper
  • you can serve the minced meat mixture over a bowl of white rice but I usually prefer to add my cooked white rice (about 3 to 4 bowls) into the wok with the minced meat mixture and stir the whole thing vigorously until well-mixed
  • to serve: toss some roasted peanuts on top, garnish with mint leaves and if you prefer, a couple of lemon wedges
Just typing this recipe is making me hungry ... good thing, there are no cold rice left-overs, cos' carbos in the middle of the night will take forever to leave my waist or hips!


Anonymous evan said...

hehe im 1st cath :p

the olive rice looks awesome!!! and yes, i love the preserved olive veggies too. its pretty similar to mui-chye. great with porridge too =)

8/11/2006 12:08:00 PM  
Anonymous spots said...

hi the olive i use in my olive rice cannot be found in NTUC - i hv to get from wetmarket-type provision shops. what brand of olive do u use? got picture? it'll be far more convenient for me to get from NTUC!

8/11/2006 04:26:00 PM  
Blogger Audrey Cooks said...

This carbo fellow simply looks delicious... what is olive vegetable? i'm clueless, is it 'mui chye' like Evan said?

8/11/2006 05:25:00 PM  
Blogger Rosa's Yummy Yums said...

Your first picture (the second also) is absolutely great; you are a real artist! I love the idea...

This recipe sounds very fine and amazing! When speaking of "Olive Vegetables", do you mean that they are olive oil preserves?

8/11/2006 06:14:00 PM  
Blogger slurp! said...

hahaha ... cute photo of hanging carbo. great idea! but doesn't that reminds you of your failure (to hang up on them>) ;)

yes, we asian will never ever be able to do without rice. i'm hooked to fried olive rice ever since i tried at some thai restaurant.

8/11/2006 11:56:00 PM  
Anonymous Tanna said...

Oh, wow, I really love all of this. Beautiful pictures - fantastic perspective hanging up the carbs. No way in my book.
I would love to try this one: it's in my file now.

8/12/2006 02:20:00 AM  
Anonymous Pam said...

Brilliant picture!

8/12/2006 09:48:00 PM  
Blogger eatzycath said...

@evan, I've yet to try the olive vegetables with porridge, sounds good and will definitely try it!

@spots, there are two brands which I normally see stocked in NTUC supermarkets, which I use interchangeably, can't remember their names tho' - try looking for them under the section either containing bottled sauces or pickled vegetables!

@audrey, it's not exactly 'mui choy' but it's the olive leaves and olive fruit which have been preserved in oil .. it looks a bit like fragmented 'mui choy' and is very dark green in color. Do try it fried with minced pork and stir into cooked rice - really delicious!

@rosa, thanks - it's the olive leaves preserved in oil!

@slurp, yup, it's a reminder alright but I've kinda given up hope on ever 'hanging up my carbs' - can't survive without them!

@tanna, thanks, hope you get a chance to try this at home :-)

@pam, thank you :-))

8/13/2006 11:31:00 PM  
Blogger Precious Moments said...

Love the way you "hang" the bowls and chopstick. Add a punch of humour to it.

BTW, possible to post how the bottle of this olive veg looks like?


8/14/2006 03:27:00 PM  
Blogger Jeanne said...

Wow - that sounds delicious, and I *love* the photo! Although hanging up my carbs is something I could never do... Faaaaar too addicted!! ;-)

8/14/2006 06:21:00 PM  
Anonymous ST said...

Hi cath, I love your photo!

I think the kind of olives spots refers to is actually called "black olives" and are preserved with salt or salt water. The olive vegetable used by Cath is olives and mustard leaves preserved in oil, thus the name " olive vegetable"

As for which brand to use, my father the traditional teow chew, insist on those made in Shan Tou and Cheng Hai as the most authentic.

8/14/2006 06:38:00 PM  
Anonymous keiko said...

Cath, this looks seriously good - what an intriguing combination!

And yes, stop playing with your food! (but I enjoyed it :))

8/14/2006 08:36:00 PM  
Anonymous S said...

hi cath,

that opening image is awesome!

8/15/2006 10:55:00 AM  
Blogger eatzycath said...

@PM, thanks, will try to see if I can get some new bottles and post the same!

@jeanne, thanks.. i empathise entirely with the inability to hang up the carbos :-)

@ST, thanks for the clarification - any idea where I can find the ones that your dad insists on? would love to try and see if there's any difference!

@keiko, hahhaa... playing with food is too enjoyable an activity to cease.. we need some lightening moments with food (ie. treat it with some irreverence and humor) every once in a while!

@S -- thank you :-)

8/15/2006 12:27:00 PM  
Anonymous ST said...

Hi cath, the brand name of the olive veg is Yu Lei. I am quite sure the supermarket carries the brand if not u can definitely get it at the market dry goods stalls. Here is the webbie and the pic of the bottle

8/15/2006 02:26:00 PM  
Blogger eatzycath said...

thanks ST - will try to hunt this bottle down and do a comparison :-)

8/18/2006 01:31:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


Exactly same sentiments. I'm a big fun tong too. Can't do without my carbo.

Totally agreed with Ms Sylvia Tan's Olive Rice. I bought her paperback version with this recipe with it was 1st published. It was a breeze to follow the recipe and turns out fun-tastic each time. Being using the Singalong brand of preserved olives from NTUC.

Fish sauce is a must of course and I prefer to use McCormick coarse black pepper. My style is to cook the rice in a claypot, stir fry the minced pork with some garlic just like you do. Then top the cooked meat on top of the cooked rice and let it steep for 5min on low heat. Before serving, sprinkle raw shallots and garlic (both thinly sliced), chilli padi, lemon bits and cashew nuts. I hate mint leaves so I sub for coriander leaves. It always impress my friends and family.

Angelyn Chan

8/28/2006 02:36:00 PM  
Blogger eatzycath said...

Hi, Angelyn, thanks for dropping by, and by the way, love your idea of raw shallots and garlic with chilli padi. Almost like having a side salad with the rice then!

8/28/2006 10:30:00 PM  
Blogger Pookah said...

I absolutely love the hanging picture! Love it!

6/14/2007 10:34:00 PM  

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