Mom's Japanese -style Fried Rice.
Still grappling with the massive aftermath of Chinese New Year gluttony, I sat down for a proper Sunday lunch today at proper lunch time, the past few days having been numbed by the food coma amidst stale bak gua and pineapple tarts that the office has to offer. I barely have appetite for much of anything – and, for those who know me, that is saying a lot.
My stomach had the perfect running start for the CNY season the moment the weekend taxied down the run way, and so the CNY period took off with a fine steamboat of marbled slices of shabu shabu beef, fresh pond prawns, Japanese firm tofu, rice noodles, New Zealand green mussels, juicy oysters and Chinese cabbage.
That was last Saturday’s dinner.
The next 3 days of the new year was a passing blur to me, like neon lights in a speeding car – the searing streaks burnt into the mind but the surrounding details lost to the night. Somewhere in the muddled haze I recall a couple of slices of my aunt’s cheesecake, plates upon plates of sea cucumber, fa cai and braised duck, the ever present little devils of pineapple tarts, almond cookies, kueh bankit, kueh lapis, kueh bolu all homemade by relatives, (and because it’s homemade, one is deigned to eat copious amounts of them. “Is it nice? Here, have some more. I took 4 hours in the kitchen making the kueh lapis layer by layer”) the guiness beef stew I threw together on Monday to pair with more than 1kg of freshly baked bread (and who doesn’t eat bread with EVOO and balsamic vinegar, or with gorgonzola or roquefort or smoked blackforest ham and feta?!)…
And that is why today’s lunch was blessedly uncomplicated, in my opinion. Mom just used up the Japanese produce we bought at Meidiya two weeks ago. I’d share a recipe, but I can’t. Not so much because I’m selfish, but because my mom’s japanese style fried rice never stays constant. She hurls into the wok whatever japanese ingredients she finds cozying away in the fridge along with a pot of steamed japanese rice and garlic. Her fried rice transforms mangy leftovers into a glitzy dish.
Then today, my mom made her apple crumble.
Mom's Apple Crumble.
Now, this crumble has particular sentimental value to me, because it reminds me of the unappreciative prick I used to be years ago when my mom still had time to be puttering around the kitchen. I was never useful then, except in polishing off three people’s share of apple crumble, orange chiffon cake, angel cake and lemon cheesecake. I was the vacuum cleaner. That was years ago, perhaps two or three.
Then those sweet treats stopped rolling out of the kitchen as my mom went back to full-time work.
Today, I slipped back into food coma for just a little while more.
I don’t have a recipe for the crumble (I don’t seem to have the recipes for the best things huh), even after watching my mom make it twice. I only know her secret – the secret – is in the butter she uses. It’s no ordinary grocery store brand, and how its tucked away in a discreet little corner of the deep freezer outside of the kitchen makes it seem almost sacred. In fact, I don’t even know if it has a brand. All anonymity aside, it makes the most crunchy, moist and fragrant crumble one could ever hope for. And have I mentioned how it still remained crisp even after a deluge of warm custard and a scoop of vanilla ice cream? For this crumble, there isn’t such a thing as soggy. If anything, it turns chewy.
Next to crunchy, I like chewy. A lot.
What I don’t like so much, is how addictive this is.
The butter’s illegal I tell you.