"Asians Eat Weird Things"
|Shrimp Paste from Thailand|
I ran into a long-time friend and neighbor the other day. I have not seen a lot of her this past year because she has been so busy working and helping an ailing friend. She enjoys reading about some of my food adventures. Then she asked what I am cooking lately. I said was eating a lot of "weird food" (for the average USA American tastes), the result of my last round of food, and I just could not fathom blogging about. She laughed, and said that I should blog about it because it is a good story. So here I am.
I personally don't think the food I am eating is weird, rather, it is my comfort food, some of the flavors and aromas are from my childhood made my my mom or my grandmothers. I have been needing serious comfort food lately because work has been stressful with the sequester and furlough (aka cut in pay equal to my mortgage); a family member who suffered for a long time with dementia passed away; a kind, good-hearted senior co-worker, who brightened my day just by saying hello, passed away on the same day; and my car blew a gasket and I don't know if it can be fixed (and I don't have the $ to fix it during sequester/furlough). Through these top 4 stressors in my life, I really felt like I needed to dig deep into the comfort food realm and really treat my taste buds and my stomach well with some serious comfort food.
Comfort food for me is not sweet desserts or mac and cheese. I did not grow up with desserts and I was deathly allergic to mac and cheese when I was a child, and did not grow out of the severe reaction to processed cheese and cheap pasta until my 20s. My comfort food is rice, stinky fermented black beans and fish, chicken and rice soup with cilantro and sesame oil, and dim sum. I can't get dim sum in Nashville and I don't want to make it because it is so labor and ingredient intensive, so I needed to go to plan B. I went to an Asian grocery store and got a few ingredients including stinky dried (stiff) fermented tofu packed chili oil, fermented salted ginger black beans, fermented shrimp paste and jasmine rice. My decision was a quick fried rice with shrimp paste. The deal is, a little shrimp paste goes a long way in flavor and aroma. I added about a teaspoon of the shrimp paste near the end of the stir fry process, and my house filled with this delightful (to me it is delightful) pungent shrimp, low-tide and umami-to-the-Nth-degree aroma that makes kim chi smell like Chanel #5. I cannot have friends over for the next few days until my house airs out. I know other Asian friends have kitchens in their garages for such occasions for when they want to cook stinky fermented foods, but I don't have a garage, so it is my indoor kitchen where I cook. In the end, this comfort food dish really hit the spot with aroma, texture, flavor, and comfort.
Here is the recipe:
Day old jasmine rice
Toasted sesame oil
Olive Oil (Arbequina Olivia Oil
Cayenne pepper (my organic garden)
1. Saute onion and garlic in olive oil
2. Add day old rice and saute to perfect soft to crunch ratio
3. Add soy sauce, sesame oil, shrimp paste and cayenne to taste
4. Enjoy the aroma from the sesame oil and shrimp paste
5. Enjoy eating this simple comfort food