For the A TO Z CHALLENGE, I’m blogging for 26 days in April (except Sundays) based on the alphabet, and my theme is #foodiefiction, inspired mostly by the foods of Singapore.
F is for Fried Rice
They called him ‘Mr Fried Rice’.
It wasn’t because he was exceptionally good at making fried rice. In fact, he wasn’t much of a cook at all. When he was forced to cook – and it would always be fried rice as that was the only thing he could cook, if ‘cook’ meant throwing things into a hot wok and making a mess – the windows would all have to be opened, fans at full blast, to rid his flat of the smell of burnt garlic. He preferred to have other people cook for him. His flatmate, tired of his clothes smelling of burnt garlic, was in full agreement and could churn out some decent fried rice. There was always plain cooked rice in the fridge, for who knew when the urge to eat fried rice would emerge.
His love for fried rice knew no boundaries or international borders. Traveling for work – and he traveled quite a lot as he worked for an international hotel chain – he always sought out Chinese restaurants and ordered fried rice. He claimed to have eaten fried rice in thirty different countries so far, from India to Spain to South Africa.
He loved to reminisce about the curry powdered fried rice he had at a noodle shop in Los Angeles. And the prosciutto-topped fried rice he had discovered in a small takeaway joint in Sydney. But his favourite fried rice was still the one his late mother cooked, and which his sister tried her best to replicate whenever he visited. But after many unsatisfied goes at it, she decided to give up. It was never quite right for him.
The first was not salty enough.
The second, the rice was too wet and clumpy. Ok, fair enough, she thought.
The third, too salty.
The fourth was almost there but it was lacking something, that special something that made Ma’s fried rice the best he had ever tasted.
“Oh no you don’t!! Don’t you dare say that the special ingredient was ‘LOVE’!” she spat out.
“Well, I was going to say maybe she used lard or something,” was his reply.
They decided that the only way to get it right was to pay a visit to their aunt, an angry, easily irritated woman who seemed to disdain their company although they only saw her at Chinese New Year these days.
His sister had thoughtfully brought along a homemade cake, organic artisan tea and her children’s drawings. His bag held a few bottles sake, clinking all the way to the aunt’s flat in Punggol.
Their proffered gifts caused raised eyebrows.
“What is it you want? Money, right?” their aunt asked.
When they explained their quest, she snorted and headed to the kitchen.
She returned with a can of Ma Ling luncheon meat and handed it to them.
“Nah. There’s your secret ingredient. You know, you could have bought many of these for this one bottle of sake. So thanks hor.”
Fried rice was one of the first dishes that my mum taught me to cook. It is a quick fix for a meal and a great way to use up leftovers. It works great with a variety of proteins and vegetables. Leftover rice that has been refrigerated really is the best for fried rice as the rice will be dry and easier to cook.