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.
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