To this, I might add something possibly incendiary: although there are many people out there who are progressive, there are a lot of people who aren’t and it happens fairly often that I meet people who think that as someone of Asian descent, I eat rice like it’s going out of style, am quiet, reserved and demure, and have relatively little body hair.
Imagine their faces when they find out that I swear like a sailor, have no filter and can hold my liquor like a white divorcée.
The body hair part is true though
In regards to the swearing, now that I’m older, I have made a concerted effort to swear less. Mostly because it makes the times when I do swear even better! Just kidding In all honesty, I think that I swore so much in my youth that I used up all of my swear words. I just don’t want to swear anymore. Can believe it? I can’t!
As for the filter? Visualize some big rusty grate with giant holes in it. The kind that lets almost everything through except for large, plastic soda bottles and shoes. I have worked hard on that too since I realized that speaking without thinking is best way to get misunderstood. I still think of my filter as that grate, but now it’s jerry-rigged with an intricate network of fishing line and wire. Some stuff still gets through, but much, much less than before. Thank goodness!
In terms of Asian food, I am not completely ignorant because I happen to know plenty about eating it. I have never met a sliced jellyfish, deep-fried octopus ball, bowl of noodles, dumpling (oooooh, dumplings), taro puff, sweet red bean fritter, bao, roll (spring and summer), lotus bean paste-stuffed pastry, chicken adobo, preserved egg, roast duck, suckling pig, hot-pot, under-cooked chicken meatball, wad of natto, head-on shrimp, whole fish, chili crab or Spam musubi that didn’t make my motor run.
However, when it comes to the nitty gritty of cooking, I am a babe in the woods.
The amount of times that I have stir-fried can be counted on one hand with fingers to spare. I did attempt a stir-fry about a week ago and it was an epic fail. I actually asked my mom right before I did it too.
“Mom, how do you stir-fry?”
I pictured her putting the phone down and walking away in shame. Or maybe it wasn’t shame, but just a refusal to tolerate such a dumb question.
So after mangling that stir-fried chicken and bok choy dish (I wilted that poor bunch of greens into a pathetic nothing), I have decided that this summer, I am going to get in touch with my yellow-ness and make a good-hearted attempt to become a little more educated about how to cook some of that food over there. I know it’s kind of wrong to lump all the Southeastern and Far Eastern cultures together, but isn’t it much more efficient to refer to all peoples who use sticks as utensils as one group rather than many? I want to learn to cook a little Chinese, some Japanese, some Korean, some Filipino, some Indonesian, some Vietnamese, some Thai and more.
I’m going to try it all.
I’m almost completely new at this, so if I stick two things together that really don’t go, like using a sauce meant for fish on cheese, please do let me know. I bet you can all stir-fry circles around me, so I’m counting on you for help.
Because my mom won’t
I’m also illiterate, so please make all comments or suggestions in English or in another Latinate language
1 bunch of Japanese baby turnips (or regular baby turnips) and their greens, thoroughly washed
How to prepare:
1. Separate the leaves from the baby turnips. Trim the turnips and cut them in half if they are too big. You want all the turnips and turnip pieces to be roughly the same size so that they cook evenly. Roughly chop the greens into 2-inch pieces.
2. In a large saucepan, heat a knob of butter and about a teaspoon of sesame oil together over medium heat. When the butter begins to foam, toss in the baby turnips. Carefully add a splash of soy sauce to the pan along with some Aleppo pepper or shichimi to taste. Sauté the turnips until they begin to lose their opacity and turn translucent. Add the greens and continue to cook everything until the greens are wilted and the turnips are cooked through. Adjust the seasoning and serve.