OUR VERY FIRSTS
Just like we remember our first conversations woven with a complete stranger;
the initial brush on our lips which we’ll always call our first kiss;
the pre-dawn slant of warm sunlight after entire months of chilly cold;
and the piercing scents of a fruit orchard ripe with the smells of summer –
this is how I remember the first dish I ever cooked.
Traveling across oceans and continents to relocate in Argentina, I had brought with me 52 kilos in luggage, made up mostly of clothes, a plastic microwavable rice-cooker, and a rough recipe of my favorite Singaporean dish memorized by heart.
This precious recipe would eventually save me from bouts of homesickness and Singaporean food withdrawal, but I hadn’t known that it would ultimately propel me headfirst into unknown culinary territory.
In a cozy, small apartment kitchen in Palermo, Buenos Aires, during the fall of 2010, my homesick self and famished stomach reached timidly for the microwavable rice-cooker I had brought over from Singapore – at that point of time more an insurance than for the love for cooking – and set out to cook my favorite Singaporean dish.
There’s no big surprise that the first dish I conquered was really a very simple one.
It was my domestic helper Shah’s master recipe – Chicken Sausage Fried Rice.
It’s something that I’ve cooked over and over again, each bite a reminder of home and its nearness to me despite the literal distance between us. It’s also incredibly easy (if you follow the steps in a logical order) and a recipe that can’t really go wrong.
A dish that has received raging success in Juan’s family and a staple I can’t seem to get sick of, I delight in every single time I make it – because it reminds me of how far I’ve come in the culinary sphere. Beyond being just a dish to satisfy my hunger, it has also become a source of comfort, my safety blanket, and the first stepping stone into my adventures in the kitchen.
And because it holds such a dear place in my heart, I’ve created a twist to it, a kind of homage to my favorite dish.
In order to keep the modified dish almost identical to the original one, and to preserve the unique flavors I’ve grown to associate with home, I’ve kept most of the ingredients except the base on which it is made.
I’ve been challenging myself to try new things this year, so it naturally flows that I’m also experimenting with uncommon ingredients, as well as unfamiliar cooking methods for familiar ingredients, particularly since I now spend quite a fair bit of my free time meddling about in the kitchen, flipping open the oven door and practicing my kung fu wok-frying skills.
I wanted to test out how the recipe would taste with quinoa, one of the new foods I’ve dared myself to try this year.
Quinoa is a seed that not everyone is used to, but is getting increasingly popular.
Quinoa is generally eaten straight after it’s been boiled, but I was curious to see how stir-frying it would turn out.
It turned out great alongside sausages and eggs, garnished with a little parsley..and relished with an appetite hungry for a warm, hearty meal.
STIR-FRIED SAUSAGE & EGG QUINOA (Serves 4)
1) 1 cup of dried quinoa
2) 2 cups of water
3) 2 large German sausages, diced (you may use normal sausage franks as well)
4) 4 eggs
5) 1 medium onion, diced
6) 1 garlic clove, minced
7) 1 stalk of spring onions, chopped
8) salt & pepper to taste
1) Rinse dried quinoa until water is clear
2) Place rinsed quinoa and water in a pot and bring to a boil
3) Once water starts boiling, cover pot and reduce heat to minimum for 10-11 minutes
4) After 10 minutes, remove pot from heat and allow to stand for 5 minutes (with cover still on)
5) Fluff quinoa with a fork and allow it to cool
6) Break and beat the eggs, and make an omelette in a pan or wok
7) Cut cooked omelette into small pieces
8) Saute minced garlic and diced onions in a wok with 2-3 teaspoons of oil
9) Once onions are starting to caramelize, add in diced sausages and stir for about one minute
10) Add in cooked quinoa and mix together
11) Add in cut omelette pieces and mix well, and add salt & pepper to taste
12) Serve hot and garnish with chopped spring onions