Did I mention that I’m a teacher? It’s a rewarding job, and has the added feature of allowing me to spend significant amounts of time on The Bay over the summer months.
My grade six classroom has become increasingly multi-cultural in recent years, and with this change came interesting dialogues and the sharing of new ideas. For instance, about a month or so ago the students came up with the idea to host a class potluck: the purpose being each child would bring a dish from their family of origin’s heritage to share with each other.
To be honest, I wasn’t too sure what the buffet would feature, but the end result was by far one of the most delicious meals I have ever had. We ate incredibly flavourful sweet and savory dishes from places including (but not limited to): Iran, Afghanistan, the Philippines, China, Korea, England, and the Canadian First Nations. What a feast! The aromas brought other students and staff following the scents down the hall and into our classroom.
The buffet was yet another great example of how food unites and brings people together.
One of the dishes really captured my attention (I’ll admit that I had two, maybe even three, helpings – it was just that good). The student who brought in the dish has come to Canada from China, and her aunt (also from China) helped her to make Chinese Stir-Fried Noodles with Prawns. The pair were kind enough to translate their recipe into English and share it with me. Thank you!
Asian food has always been one of my all-time favourite types of cuisine. When I was a young girl, we lived in the Philippines for a few years. As an adult, I’ve taught and lived in Japan and traveled through Southeast Asia including Hong Kong, Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand. Memories of all those places and experiences always involves food.
Also, having lived for a few years in Vancouver, I’m going to go ahead and take the liberty to reveal that although I’m wholeheartedly Canadian, of British, Irish and Scottish decent, my childhood and adult life have also been heavily influenced by Asian flavours. Upon reflection, they’ve integrated into who I am just as much as sheppard’s pie, yorkshire pudding, and turkey dinner with all the trimmings.
So, back to business, and here we are in Canada in late February, yearning for spring. During this time of year, in this part of the world, everyone seems to become impatient. The days are increasingly (but it seems so very slowly) becoming longer, the sunshine feels warmer and more intense on the skin, and periodic warmer days bring about melting snow. Even the dogs seem to be looking ahead to spring; their noses tilted up in the air sniffing out the earthy aromas of freshly uncovered dormant grass and mud.
This edgy impatience for spring most certainly calls for the zesty, fresh aromas and flavours of lemongrass, cilantro, citrus, and spring onions. So, naturally, we had ourselves a glorious Asian feast! One of our kids noted that a dish on the table “tastes like a warm holiday”. Mission accomplished.
The bounty of our organic produce delivery this week included beautiful, fresh spring onions. Oh how they burst with flavours of spring and warmth. Spring onions are planted as seedlings in the fall, and mature over the winter months before being harvested in the spring, hence their name. Sometimes we call spring onions “green onions” or “scallions”, but the flyer in our delivery box offered the explanation that while spring onions look like green onions, they differ in that they feature an edible red or white bulb at the base. Naturally these lush spring vegetables found their way into our feast.
Our Asian spread featured a variety of dishes, in a festival of glorious abundance. Here’s my version of Fried Rice with Stir-Fried Vegetables, including those spring onions, in case you’d like to try for yourself.
Spring is pushing back at winter, and we’re ready and waiting. Meanwhile, bon appetite!
Fried Rice with Stir-Fried Vegetables
3 tablespoons canola oil
4 spring onions, thinly sliced on the diagonal (white and delicate green parts)
1 tablespoon peeled and minced fresh ginger
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon rice wine (rice vinegar is a fine substitute)
3 tablespoons chicken or vegetable broth (homemade or store bought)
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon sesame oil
¼ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
3 cups cold, cooked rice (we often use whole grain rice, sometimes basmati rice)
½ cup fresh, or thawed, peas (optional)
any other vegetables that you have on hand will do (chopped asparagus, red pepper, and zucchini are some of our favourites)
a small handful of fresh cilantro, chopped
In a large wok over high heat, warm 2 tablespoons of the canola oil. Add the copped vegetables and stir-fry until just soft. Then add the green onions, ginger, and garlic and fry for about a minute further, or until fragrant. Pour in the rice wine, stir together and then remove to a bowl.
In another bowl, combine the broth, soy sauce and pepper. Add the remaining tablespoon of oil to the wok and return to high heat. Add the rice and stir-fry until heated through. Return the vegetable mixture to the pan and toss. Pour in the broth mixture and stir-fry for a few more minutes, until it is absorbed through. Add the sesame oil for a punch of extra flavour, and toss together.
Transfer to a serving dish, sprinkle with fresh cilantro and spring onions, and serve hot.