Indio, California: Here is a little tale of our family history, with a recipe thrown-in. Told many times, a few details have been forgotten, but it's still (as Jimmy would say) a Semi-True Story... I made up a few things and there's some I forgot...
Listen to Jimmy Buffett sing Semi-True Story.
(Safe and hosted by your friendly RV Goddess)
The Lovely Lisa was born while we were living in The Philippines. We enjoyed our years in Manila and dove into the culture, foods and the delightfully friendly people of The Philippine Islands. We were lucky enough to have Sining to help us around the house. Sining (Sa-ning) was an easy-going lady, friendly, always smiling and she taught us much about daily Filipino life and food. Sining was a fabulous cook.
As a result of being raised through toddler-hood in Manila (and subsequently moving to Taiwan), our sweet baby was possibly not your normal All-American Kid. (We've never told her though, so just keep quiet.) When Lisa started eating solid foods, we offered rice and mangos. (Remind me to tell you about the boiled chicken feet in her 1st grade lunchbox, okay?) The kid thrived on rice.
So... short story long... we take our toddler to Oregon to visit our families and (thinking we are being great parents) treat our Little Girl to the Golden Arches! (No McDonald's in Manila at this time.)
We place our precious nearly-two-year-old into a high chair and put a hamburger in front of her. She looks. Eyes wide. She touches. She takes off the top bun, and finds little bits of chopped onion on the burger. Her eyes light up. She puts the tidbit of chopped onion in her mouth, thinking the onion is rice... and howls! Actual tears are streaming down her cheeks. Then Lisa grabs her plastic spoon and bangs the handle down on her high chair tray (ala rioting prisoner) and begins to chant: Baby Wants Rice! Baby Wants Rice! Baby Wants Rice!
It was pathetic and hilarious at the same time. (I honestly can't recall how we solved this crisis, but this may have been the first time Baby Tried French Fries.) As far I can discern, Lisa (now nearly 30) was not traumatized by this memory and can eat a hamburger without a psychiatrist on standby.
Which brings me to the recipe portion of this column. Sining taught me how to cook the national breakfast dish of The Philippines, Sinangag - garlic fried rice. We ate this delicious concoction very often in Manila for breakfast. We still eat garlic fried rice several times a month - but we usually just refer to the dish as "Philippine Breakfast". Many of my readers may think it is odd to eat garlic-fried rice for breakfast, but it is normal for us and normal for millions and millions of people every day throughout the world. It is a great way to use-up the rice left in the rice cooker overnight before starting a new pot of rice. The dish is filling and satisfying.Heat a teaspoon of vegetable oil (in Manila it was palm oil or coconut oil) in a non-stick skillet over low heat and pour in two well-beaten eggs (or you could use one egg and two egg whites if you are old like me). Let the egg firm-up just a bit and flip it over with a spatula. Slip the barely-cooked egg onto a plate. Use a spatula/pancake turner to chop the scrambled egg into little bits. Set aside. Pour about a tablespoon of vegetable oil into the same skillet, over a low heat, and add 4 (or more!) cloves of minced garlic. Don't be shy. This isn't called Garlic Fried Rice for nothing! Keep the heat low - you don't want to burn the garlic.
Now moisten your hands with water and dig into your cold left-over rice. Grab two or three cups of rice and break it up with your fingers into the sautéing garlic. Stir quickly to combine the rice and garlic, then raise the heat a bit to warm the rice completely, stirring constantly. Add salt and black pepper to taste... but I suggest you be generous with both. When the rice is heated through and bits are starting to brown just a bit, toss-in the chopped egg and toss well to combine. Serve immediately. This recipe will serve two or three people (or me and DT).
In Manila, this dish is often served at breakfast with dried beef or strange little breakfast sausages (that looked like mini hot dogs to me). It is also sometimes served without including the scrambled egg, but with a sunny-side-up egg on top of the garlic-fried rice. It is important to use a good-quality Jasmine rice.
Lisa was raised with this breakfast dish and still prepares "Philippine Breakfast" often in her own kitchen, and I suppose our little Grandbaby will be raised on Sinangag as well. Try it - you'll like it (maybe your co-workers won't like it, but that is their problem).
Until my next update, I remain, your "okay, so I cooked in my sparkling-clean kitchen already" correspondent.
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