Monday, 30 August 2010

Simple Food

Even though I don't go to the office, I woke up this morning feeling the Monday blues.

On one side of the coin, every day is a weekend for me, and yet on the flipped side, it's a working day everyday! I am feeling the blues probably because I seldom cook on weekends. To me, cooking is a chore, it is a need not a want. I don't mind the actual cooking, but I dreaded the cleaning and washing before and after a meal. After staying away from the stove for 2 days, come Monday mornings, I usually find myself in a state of loss...totally clueless what to lay on our dining table for the day. Sometimes, I will brainstorm with my kids over breakfast. Occasionally, they do give brilliant ideas and suggestions, but there were also times when I turn down their requests, flatly, especially if they ask for dishes such as tofu burger(?), laksa or char kway teow. They are either unheard of, or way beyond whatever basic cooking skills I have.


By mid-morning, I finally settled on the menu for the day: Korean pancakes for lunch and meat sauce pasta for dinner. After a quick snoop around my pantry cupboard, I realised I ran out of pasta sauce. Pasta is out, and so what can I do with the ground beef? In the end, I went back to our common staple...fried rice! I can't think of a better meal which can be whipped up by throwing whatever ingredients I have into the wok.


Fried rice is something I do pretty well, I learned how to cook it since I was a teenager. Back then, it was the simplest form of food I had...a bowl of steaming hot white rice stir fried in a huge cast iron wok with just soya sauce and an egg. By comparison, what I had for dinner tonight is 'gourmet food'...a mixture of brown and white rice stir fried with ground beef, some cabbage and wolfberries, plus my must-have in all my fried rice concoctions...an egg.

I don't have the habit to use overnight or leftover rice. I use freshly cooked rice every time. Since just-cooked rice has got more moisture in it, it will be difficult to stir fry still every single grain is separated. The trick is to stir fry the rice over very high heat, the wok has to be very very hot before the rice is added. This way, every grain is cooked through and they will start to dance off the wok in no time. Alternatively, cook the rice an hour earlier so that it is cooled off and dried up a little, or cook the rice with slightly less water than usual.


My cooking skills are so basic that I always serve fried rice as a complete meal on its own. It is truly a blessing that my children never seem to get tired with a bowl of fried rice :)




24 comments:

  1. Fried rice in style I also don't mind to have it often. Haha.

    This fried rice looks very yummy and healthy. The rice and your presentation reminds me of the bowl of 野菜饭 I had in Taiwan many years ago.

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  2. I love fried rice myself, I often make side dishes the main course.

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  3. hi! this looks really delicious...you're similar to my mom, she doesn't like cooking either..haha. that's how i learned to cook for myself :P

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  4. Oh I love fried rice. I made it one time and mine stuck on the pan big time. There was a "chip" that I had to peel off. :) The Korean pancakes sound good.

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  5. Hi HHB
    how about making your own pasta sauce? once i learnt how to make my own tomato pasta sauce, i have stopped buying bottled ones. you just need fresh tomatoes, canned whole tomatoes, some sugar, salt, onion and after the sauce is ready, just add some sausages, mushroom etc. very simple and delicious.
    regards
    octopusmum

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  6. Fried rice is always a good backup plan! I think if I were a SAHM, I probably be frying rice for every meal! LOL.

    This looks good, dun worry, I'm sure your family enjoyed it very much.

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  7. Hi HHB,
    You're creative and so call 随机应变 as you make use of whatever you had on hand to make a dish. I like beef stir fried rice, I think the beef makes a lot different of the taste compare to mince pork. Oh ya, I don't normally keep rice of overnight too as I heard it's not good for our body.
    Your rice looks simple and nice!

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  8. I make fried rice all the time. Just made Corn and Mushroom Fried Rice 2 days ago. An al time favourite:)) Total comfort food!!

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  9. Fried rice is one the most flexible dish to prepare. As long as there's rice, any ingredient can go into it. And it can be a complete balanced meal itself.
    I see you've added wolfberries? That's interesting!

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  10. Esther, you have to make sure the pan is very hot before you add in the rice, and you need to stir fry it over high heat to prevent the rice from sticking.

    thanks octopusmum, I have been wanting to make my own pasta sauce, but I am too lazy to get down to it ;)

    Baking Fiend, yes, this is a regular, we have fried rice almost every other week :)

    Grace, it's because my kids eat whatever I prepare, they won't mind whatever combination I came up with ;)

    Lara, I have made mushrooms with pine nuts fried rice, but have yet to pair it with corns. Thanks for sharing the idea :)

    busygran, I like to throw in wolfberries into soups, stir fried vegetables and I have even used it to make bread.

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  11. My kind of comfort food! And I find the stir-fried rice is one of the best ways to clear off the fridge storage and leftover!

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  12. HHB, I used to able to whip out delicious fried rice (to my brother lah hee hee hee...)but I had stopped cooking since I got married and now back to cooking again, do only on Sunday :P. Fried rice is something that we will not get tire of eating, my daughter's favourite too! Good idea to use ground beef for fried rice but too bad my FIL dun consume beef now due to grout (but he eat pork, funny), if I am going to cook this fried rice, I need to cook seperate portion for him :(.

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  13. Perfect comfort food! Sometimes I make the rice an hour ahead but put it spread out on a baking tray to cool before frying. Plain white rice freezes well and comes in handy for frying. Btw, fried rice freezes well too depending on the ingredients involved.

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  14. You are fortunate to have kids that are not picky eaters. :) I have to coax my girls to eat the 枸杞子 from the soup, telling them how pretty they will become after consuming enough, lol! But somehow my kids love fried rice too...sometimes just some eggs and mince pork and they are good. ;) Love the color of your fried rice.

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  15. Hi hhb, i thnk u have churned out some pretty awsome dishes despite yr protest that u r lousy at cooking!

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  16. I like fried rice. Hv seen people adding grated cheese on top of the fried rice and bake, to turn into a baked-rice.

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  17. hi HHB, fried rice is also one of my favourites to dish out to the family. I like it cos it's so easy to prepare and like you, I also serve it as the main dish. :)
    I grew up with my AH Ma's fried rice with soya sauce and egg too.. haha.. your blog account brings back fond memories.

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  18. Jess, it must be difficult to prepare meals to suit everyone's diet at home.

    Chris, thanks for the tips :) I don't have the habit of freezing food unless absolutely necessary. But now I am more receptive to the idea as I learned that not all frozen food is bad :)

    Bee Bee, my kids got strange taste buds, one of them loves bitter gourd, and the other likes parleys and Chinese cilantro, both love chives. So 枸杞子 are like raisins to them :)

    mj, if you are a foodie with trained palates, you won't eat the food I cooked ;)

    neyeeloh, I just saw a similar recipe as what you have described, will love to give it a try someday.

    erith, I am glad to hear that this simple post has brought you fond memories :)

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  19. HHB,能夠下得了廚房和出得了廳堂已經非常了不起了。

    炒飯也是我學煮的第一道菜。但我已習慣用隔夜飯來炒了。我炒的時候都用挺高的火候。但偶爾不小心會把飯給炒焦的。哈哈哈!我還真沒看過用枸杞來炒飯!通常我的炒飯有臘腸、雜菜和蛋。我也習慣撒上一點的五香粉。不知道,就是喜歡那種味道。對呀!我小時候吃的最基本炒飯是光用蛋和飯來炒的。簡單的美味!

    說道豆腐漢堡包,我在美國倒是有聽過,吃就沒吃過。我想是素食者吃的。妳孩子們還挺有創意感的。哈哈!

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  20. Hahaha...I read with interest about you resting for two days and going back to your wok on Monday. You're no different from us, for having Monday blues. ;)
    I can totally empathise what you go through. That was also why I never complaint when my helper cooked the food over and over again. It's such a chore to think of what to cook. Also, I think she is also limited to the foodstuff I bought from the market. As I also always buy the same stuff, I cannot expect her to come up with creative ways to cook it!
    Adding wolfberries to fried rice looks really good. Your fried rice does look very nice and grainy. I like it. I also loved to add eggs to my fried rice. Thanks for sharing your way of frying rice!

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  21. even though it looks simple, its something I would love to have, instead of 大鱼大肉。 :)

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  22. Pei Lin, 你太看得起我了, 我是进不了廚房也出不了厅堂!

    Jane, yes, woking is hard work for me! I find that ingredients that are available in the wet markets or supermarkets here are quite limited. You see the usual type of veg, fish etc. So, somehow, you just buy the same stuff and eventually cook the same food over and over again!

    Aimei, I am getting old, cannot stomach 大鱼大肉...whatever I eat will grow on my body, so it is better to eat simple food ;)

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  23. My kids are all in college and I can still get away with serving a great bowl of fried rice for dinner. It's a type of comfort food. Great recipe.

    Plan B

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