Thursday, May 20, 2010

water spinach

when i was a neophyte, i loved my veggies. well, i should probably clarify that a bit, i loved the fresh veggies that were prepared by my mom and myself (i started early in the kitchen) as opposed to the frozen lima beans boiled to death that somehow qualified as a "vegetable" and covered with this equally soft mushy yellow stuff that i would later find out was margarine. this, of course, was not prepared by me but rather another branch of the family tree and was rather indicative of how they thought "vegetables" were cooked.

when i look back during that time, i feel rather fortunate to have had exposure to a huge variety of vegetables and various ways of preparing them. i must admit that it broke my heart a tiny bit to prepare the lima bean atrocity for B. when we were together. he too was exposed to that dish as a child, yet we had completely different reactions to it. he liked it. i thought it was an abomination. yet, because he liked it so much, i would prepare it for him on occasion, just the way he liked it (i.e., overcooked mushy artificial butter and all). while this may sound a bit odd, this is not unusual actually for me. i've done this for many loved ones....made dishes specifically for their palate, taste buds, and underlying food memories. there was something about this dish that reminded him of pleasant memories of childhood. i thought this was hilarious but appropriate since his mother (who i loved and still miss) hates to cook. just hates it. i think it shows in her cooking. yet, B was probably just thrilled with the fact that she even made anything.

i was reminded this morning of how much our palates are impacted by what we eat as children. my "work day" was a bit earlier than usual today as i started as 6am. as a result, i started feeling particularly peckish about 10:30, so i went into the fridge to see what i should eat between now and saturday....particularly the veggies as i will be heading to the uk on saturday and i try to avoid wasting food. i still had the bundle of water spinach that i recently picked up at the "heart of the city farmers' market" aka the farmers' market at civic center. i do love that market quite a bit actually. it is the antithesis of the ferry building farmers market, but i think there is room in my heart to love all sorts of farmers markets. the reason why i love this one is the abundance of asian herbs and vegetables i am able to pick up here...including water spinach....

which was my favorite vegetable as a child. not only did i like the various ways it could be prepared, i liked the silky texture of the leaves combined with the slight firm almost crunchiness of the stems when they are lightly stir-fried. i decided that i would make my breakfast this morning consist of some spicy water spinach, some scrambled eggs with green onion, and left over rice. this is a pretty go-to standard quick-n-easy standard for me.....leftover rice (since i usually have a pot of cooked grains in the fridge at all times), a veg of some sort, and eggs for my shot of protein.

once i prepped a good portion of the water spinach to pick out some green onion when i noticed i also had some asparagus as well.

so i grabbed a few stalks and decided i would add it. this happens a lot while i am cooking....modifying as i go depending on what i have available in my kitchen.
making the stir fried water spinach as well as the scrambled eggs is a very fast process. it probably takes longer to explain the steps than it does to cook it. but basically, i heated up some extra virgin olive oil, added the whites of the green onion, some salt, then dried chilies, then the asparagus, and then the water spinach. once the water spinach begins to wilt in the pan, i shake a few shakes of nuoc mam into the water spinach. yup, that is it.

then for the eggs, it is basically the same thing where i heat up extra virgin olive oil, smashed then chopped whites of the green onion, the eggs, then a couple of shakes of the nuoc mam, then the green portions of the green onion, and then scramble.

again, all pretty simple no?

if i wanted to be all fancy and fluffy, i would have beaten the eggs in a separate bowl with the ingredients. this actually does make a substantial difference....but this morning for me was not about taking the extra steps....but rather obtaining some good and tasty nourishment as quickly as possible.

yet, as i made this meal quickly for myself....i did think about how this meal and my approach to it may have not been possible if i hadn't already been exposed to these sort of preparations and food as a child.

it is probably why i rarely think of things like cold cereal as "breakfast food"....even though that is extremely quick to put together.


Su-Lin said...

I love your "breakfast" though I'd probably have it for dinner!

I'm curious about your dried chilies... what variety are they? They look very cute!

foodie hunter said...


the chilies are paper lantern chilies. i'm not certain where you can get them in london though. i bought these from a farmers' market (tierra farm booth) in san francisco.