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Terry & Dave Taylor

ASIA WEEK: Fried Rice

I flew back to Portland this morning. I can't tell you how hard it was to leave this little guy:


I (finally) watched Frozen with Leo (twice) this weekend. I am probably the last remaining person on this planet to see Frozen and probably the only living American who does not know every word of the theme song - Let It Go... so now I am mostly as up-to-date with current American Culture as I wish to be. Leo is just fascinated with the movie, the music, and has a serious crush on the orphaned co-heroine, Queen Elsa - a girl who is has some sort of magical power/curse that makes things (people, entire countries, oceans) instantly freeze/turn to ice, unless she wears gloves to control her impluses until she is cured by the power of love and no longer needs the gloves... which, of course, you can purchase from Disney for your child or grandchild. Or for yourself. But do not. Leo has the Disney Frozen Elsa's Magical Musical Gloves. Leo LOVES the gloves. The gloves play Let It Go and make "ice" sounds (think hotel ice machine)... but the dang gloves have left blue glitter all over Lenny & Lisa's house. We even found glitter in Lucy's ear! Do not buy these magical gloves... except, of course, unless you do, then please click on the photo or link above so I get a little commission from amazon.com.

But consider yourself warned.

I can't tell you how hard it was to leave this little girl:


And by little, I mean little. Though Lucy seems massive to us compared to her birth (nearly three weeks ago), she still weighs under seven pounds. Lucy does finally fit in newborn-sized clothing, which makes dressing her so much easier. Lucy seems more alert every day, but still mostly nurses, poops and sleeps.

I had a busy few days in Los Angeles - Leo attended two birthday parties, I ran a lot of errands for Lisa, furniture was delivered for the new family/playroom and Lisa or I cooked most meals. Laundry. There was a lot of laundry. Lenny returned from his trip last night, so I flew back to my neglected husband this morning.

I have been wanting to cook a few of our favorite Asian dishes, so decided to have "Asia Week". Asia Week will only be four days due to a planned RV trip... but you get the gist. We started-off Asia Week with lunch out.

One great thing about flying in and out of PDX is the opportunity to try some of the fabulous restaurants on the "other side of the river". We rarely venture over to the east side of the Willamette River (except to go to the airport), but that is where all the fabulous new young hip chefs have decided to open all their fabulous new young hip eateries. We are in the habit of trying a new place on our way home from the airport. Lunch or dinner - no matter - and it often is a good excuse to avoid rush hour traffic.

Today we went to lunch at Nong's Khao Man Gai - a counter service joint that serves a very popular Thai dish - Chicken with Rice (khao man gai).

Nong's Khao Man Gai
Chicken with Rice (Khao Man Gai)

Whole chickens are poached with aromatic herbs and spices, then the broth is used to cook rice. The chicken is served over the rice with a tangy sauce... and at Nong's, a little broth is also served with the chicken. You can get white meat, dark meat or a combo. $8. Nong Poonsukwattana is originally from Bangkok and started selling this dish from a downtown Portland food cart. Now she has two carts, a restaurant and also sells her bottled sauce. The menu at Khao Man Gai has basically three items: chicken with rice, pork with rice, or chicken with rice and peanut sauce. One little side dish is the skin from the boiled chicken - deep fried til crispy - which sells out early in the day. Poonsukwattana also generously gives her recipe, and recently won a cooking competition - Food Network's Food Truck Fight.

Chicken with Rice and Peanut Sauce
Chicken with Rice and Peanut Sauce (and broccoli) at Nong's

Tonight, I made fried rice for dinner. Chicken fried rice, to be specific... so we basically had the same thing for lunch and dinner.

Lisa in Taiwan - 1985

I grew to love fried rice when we lived in Taiwan. Fried rice - chao fan, pronounced chow fawn - in Taiwan is nothing like the fried rice you find in Chinese restaurants in America. For one thing - it is white. Never ever is soy sauce added to this dish. Just a little yellow or green onion, garlic, scrambled egg, a few bits of veggies. Often cooked shrimp or chicken are added. Delicious. Easy. Quick.

Fried Rice - Taiwanese style
So pretty!

Since I have a terrible allergy to shellfish, I quickly learned how to order vegetable or chicken fried rice in Mandarin - and always added "with no fish, please" to the waiter, just in case. Sometimes (especially in a seafood restaurant) the humble fried rice was the only non-lethal item on a Taipei banquet table.

Tonight I prepared a classic chao fan with left-over grilled chicken, minced yellow onion, garlic, boiled carrots, green peas and scrambled egg.

INSTRUCTIONS: Use peanut or vegetable oil to scramble a few eggs in a massive skillet or wok. Remove the egg to a plate and chop-up a bit. Coat the skillet generously with more oil and saute 1/2 cup minced onion, 3 cloves minced garlic and a (peeled-minced-cooked) carrot for a few minutes. Then add 1 cup thawed frozen peas, 2 cups cooked cubed chicken and 4 cups cold left-over Jasmine rice. (Use wet hands to easily break-up the rice.) Stir until heated through. Return the scrambled egg to the pan, mix well, add salt and pepper to taste. Serve. Serves 4.

Was that a recipe? There really isn't a recipe for Taiwanese fried rice... you can use any combination of veggies, egg, cooked meat or fish you choose. Or simply make it vegetarian - this is an excellent way to use left-over rice. Just remember one thing: NO SOY SAUCE!

Ji chao fan

To accompany the fried rice, I served crunchy cold Taiwan Pickle.

Taiwan Pickle


Until my next update, I remain, your fried correspondent.



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