First of all, Happy New Year to all my Chinese friends as you usher in the Year of the Monkey. Being African, I cannot help but notice some of the stark similarities between the Chinese Culture and African culture, a case-in-point being food. Like African culture, the Chinese have a rich history in food.
Taking the New Year celebrations as an example, food takes centerstage during these celebrations and it is easy to see why. Beyond the obvious association of the New Year with new beginnings, the Chinese New Year celebrations are a rich tapestry of traditions and superstitions, which are intricately interlinked.
Many of these traditions revolve around sending signals to the Universe to influence the path of the future, fulfilling hopes and dreams. Food represents a popular medium for these signals. After all, food represents abundance, health and wealth – an amalgamation of most people’s hopes and dreams for the future.
As I was wondering what to make in honour and celebration of this important occasion, I naturally turned to Google. My simple search on Google for Chinese New Year recipes turned up a host of delicious and decadent recipes guaranteed to send ones’ salivary glands into overdrive and in a jiffy, two hours zoomed past as I feasted my eyes on pages after pages of drool-worthy food.
Ultimately, I decided to celebrate with a dish of Egg Fried Rice with Fried Prawns. This was an easy choice. Prawns (ha) in Cantonese sounds like ‘laughter’ and ‘happiness, so a perfect sentiment to wish for in the new year. Second, although this dish is quintessentially Chinese, we love Egg fried rice in Africa, so much that it was a “regular” in my household, especially during festive periods.
Without much ado, here is a recipe for an easy egg fried rice, one which comes together in a few minutes. One tip:
- Use cold rice. Authentic fried rice recipes call for long-grain rice. Some recipes have been known to use Basmati or Jasmine. Whatever rice you prefer, make it ahead and leave to cool before you use. Using cold rice ensures that you don’t end up with sticky gooey fried rice which is what tends to happen if you use hot rice. I usually make the rice a day ahead and refrigerate before using. You don’t have to make it a day ahead, but refrigerating the rice is non-negotiable!
- This dish is really versatile, and you are limited only by your imagination on what vegetables you add to the dish. I have added peas, carrots and sweet corn, but do feel free to add any vegetable of your choice – broccoli, runner beans etc.
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