I love my extended family. It hurts that I can’t be around them all the time (… says the girl who doesn’t have to live near her family).
Really and truly, though, it gets most painful when we have a big holiday on the horizon. The Chinese/Vietnamese New Year is this weekend, and my family has been exchanging emails daily about their potluck celebration. They’ve been throwing around words like nem nướng (barbecue pork meatballs), bánh cuốn (rice sheets), thịt kho (braised pork), bánh chưng (stuffed sticky rice cake), cháo thịt (porridge with ground beef) and súp (… soup). The idea of being away from all these familial festivities and food is hard to bear, to say the least.
I need not feel completely abandoned, however, when the kitchen offers me a portal to ancestral traditions. Last night, we created an Asian-inspired dinner that was the perfect balm for my wounds. Jay sauteed a mess of delicious, delightfully sticky orange chicken and I stir-fried some cauliflower fried “rice” and vegetables as accompaniment. The perfume of garlic and ginger emanating from the kitchen was absolutely intoxicating. The only thing better than smelling was tasting the food itself. Jay proclaimed this his favorite dish since the beginning of my Whole30 program, and I’m inclined to agree. These two recipes are definitely going to see some heavy use, New Year or not!
Now, if only I could somehow conjure up li xi (red envelopes containing gifts of money)…
Note: We substituted the chicken thighs with chicken breast with no noticeable difference. Jay also accidentally spilled quite a bit of the orange juice, though it didn’t affect the overall sauce. The flavors of this dish are so incredibly vibrant that its exact ratios can be quite forgiving.
Cauliflower fried rice
Adapted from Nom Nom Paleo
Note: we made the cauliflower fried rice based on what we had and it turned out wonderfully. Even though we didn’t have several umami components, the garlic, ginger, coconut aminos, and fish sauce were more than flavorful. That said, I imagine this dish would be fantastic if you follow the original recipe exactly! I’m definitely going to re-try this as a stand-alone entree with the added onions, mushrooms, and pork.
- 3 eggs
- 1 1/2 teaspoon of coconut oil
- 1 head of cauliflower, separated into florets
- 1 tablespoon of garlic
- 1 inch section of fresh ginger, grated
- 2 scallions, minced
- 2 tablespoons of cilantro leaves, minced
- 1 tablespoon of coconut aminos
- 2 teaspoons of fish sauce
- Salt and pepper
- Prepare the egg omelet: Whisk three eggs in a bowl and season with salt and pepper. Heat 1/2 teaspoon of coconut oil in a frying pan on medium-low heat and add the egg mixture. Cover and let cook (about 5-10 minutes) until egg has nearly set; the mixture should jiggle loosely, like Jello. Flip the omelet and let cook for one minute longer. Remove from heat and slice into thin 1″ strips.
- In a food processor, pulse the cauliflower until the pieces resemble rice.
- In a pan on medium heat, melt 1 teaspoon of coconut oil and add the garlic. When it begins to turn golden and fragrant (about 1 minute), add the ginger and continue cooking, stirring for another minute.
- Add the cauliflower to the pan and turn the heat to low. Cover and cook for 5 minutes, until the cauliflower is tender. Make sure not to overcook it; you don’t want mushy cauliflower (in which case, though, you’d simply have mash, which ain’t bad at all). Turn off the heat. I like to let the pan continue resting on the burner for some residual heat during the next step.
- Add the egg, chopped vegetables, and sauces to the pan. Stir until well-incorporated. Taste and adjust the seasonings if necessary.