Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Barbary Coast Kitchen V

A century ago, San Francisco had a thriving Chinese community.
Quick, name two Chinese dishes from that era.
Right, 1) chop suey and 2) chow mein.
Of course, the cuisine at that time was certainly more varied, and more authentic — chop suey and chow mein were even then regarded as American inventions.
Still. Doesn't make them any less tasty, authentic or not, as long as they're made well.
What the hey. Maybe those Sino-American concoctions were a case of "make do with what you have on hand." I'm told "chop suey" translates as "odds and ends."
What I had on hand was some rice, eggs, vegetables, a little leftover pork and seasonings.
Well, that surely adds up to fried rice. Or as my blog pal Passionate Eater calls it, "the resting place for retired vegetables." (She's only joking a little; the post featuring her recipe was prompted by an upcoming trip and a need to clean out the fridge.)
I gather that eggs were fairly expensive in early San Francisco, so perhaps this isn't a perfect example of Barbary Coast cooking. But, see, it's what I had on hand. And since a previous recipe (scroll down) of Passionate Eater's had turned out so good, I was willing to give this great cook and blogger another go.
I embellished: added more vegetables (peas and mushrooms) and a bit of meat. But other than that, I followed her ingredients and technique and it came out superb. Sweet, light, ungreasy, unsalty — unlike restaurant fried rice, where they probably are cleaning out their refrigerators. (A commenter on PE alluded to restaurants possibly even using "leftovers"; yikes, you mean food diners didn't finish?)
I know I said I wasn't going to bother you with local boasts anymore, but other than the soy sauce, fish sauce and sesame oil, it was local.
And goooood.


Passionate Eater said...

Cookie, did I ever tell you that I love you? Please email me about the next time you are in SF, and I'll make a Chinese dinner you, Cranky (and even Bean Sprout, if he'd like to come) will never forget!

My email is family_neptune (at) yahoo!

Dagny said...

"Resting place for 'retired vegetables'" LOL So true though.

Gustad said...

i love eggs in my freind rice.
i entered a hot dog eating contest last week it's on my blog if you want to see

Jamie said...

I firmly believe that restaurant fried rice is where the stuff that's too old to serve any other way ends up. I hope it's not actually scraped off plates! The s.o. once got food poisoning from fried rice, so we always order plain rice with our Chinese food.

But I loooooove fried rice. It has been far too long since I made it at home. Thank you for the inspiration.

michelle said...

This is a great way to clean out the fridge - we've done it more than once, but mine never looks as nice as both of yours. PE's carrot chopping skills are enviable! Thanks for making me aware of a new blog, cookiecrumb - I always learn a little tidbit or two from you!

cookiecrumb said...

PE: If my piddly re-creations of your so-called easy Friday Night meals are any indication, you would indeed blow us away. I'm so proud you noticed my homage to you, and that you were the first to comment!

Dagny: Our vegetables were a little closer to pristine than "retired," (oh, heck, maybe right in between), and the food was so sweet! Makes all the difference.

Gustad: I will come see! What fun.

Jamie: Be afraid. Be very afraid. Then they take the white rice you didn't finish and make.... Fried Rice! Follow PE's recipe; too easy.

Michelle: Yeah, can you believe that brunoise? She's good.

mrs d said...

Chopper insists that day-old rice makes for better fried rice and I think he's right. Now, if I can ever get him to actually write up his recipe so we can post it...

cookiecrumb said...

I totally agree, Mrs D. We made a double batch a few days earlier so there'd be leftover rice. It doesn't come out mushy if it gets a night in the fridge to harden up (and how come Chopper knows so much about Chinese cooking, and recipe, please? Chop-chop, Chopper).

mrs d said...

I should give you Chopper's private email so you can nag him. He really does need to get off his tuchas and write up more recipes. Hmm... Maybe after the NBA playoffs are over... (Sports junkie time sink strikes again.)