I’m a great believer in making do — that is, don’t fuss if you don’t have all the ingredients you need for a particular recipe. It’s a philosophy I eat and live by: hence when life hands me a lemon, I make lemonade; if it’s an orange, I make orange juice and if it’s grape, I make wine or vinegar. The choice is MINE.
This reminds me of a highly successful rice dish I made one day. I wanted to make salted fish rice. Mother said there’s no salted fish at home. But there is chicken breast.
OK, I said, let’s make chicken breast rice then. She demurred. I suggested she checked with the kedai lady downstairs. She doesn’t sell salted fish, my mother declared.
Have you ever asked her? No? Well, ask her, OK? Mum did and found that the kedai woman did sell salted fish, but not the kind needed to cook salted fish rice or “kiam hu pung”.
I persuaded her it didn’t matter. Salted fish is salted fish. OK? Since, we already had the chicken breast, I decided we might as well make chicken breast salted fish rice.
For two persons. For more, increase, proportionately.
Uncooked rice, wash and allow to dry.
50gm of salted fish, any kind will do. Wash and dry well. Slice thinly, if possible.
Half a chicken breast (more if you’re feeling greedy), slice thinly as well, if possible.
A knob of ginger, doesn’t matter whether old or young. Cut into strips.
Heat a pan or pot. Some people would insist on a kwali or a frying pan, but I use whatever comes in handy, which is usually a Corningware dish. Put in sesame oil and ginger. Fry till ginger is giving out ginger fragrance. Add salted fish and chicken. Continue stirring and then add rice. This process should take no more than 10 minutes.
Transfer everything to the electric rice cooker. (That’s what I do, but you have the option of keeping everything in the pan, pot or whatever you’re using to do the stir frying in to continue the cooking process).
Add some water or better still some stock or some left over white wine that’s no longer good for drinking, or simply a mixture. Cook till rice is soft and all the ingredients are well blended. Serve!
I find this a yummy gummy one dish meal that could also be made with pork or even fresh fish or, as a luxury, lobster; or to be very traditional, Chinese sausage (lap cheong).
The idea is to be creative and go with the salivery flow.