Saturday, June 27, 2015

Fried rice, zhongzi and Taiwanese neighbors

We have some wonderful neighbors. There is an oldish couple who live next door, we say "Ni Hao" to them whenever we see them. Every now and then they will walk into our house and give us something. I say walk in because there is a different sense of privacy here in Taiwan. People knock and walk in, we often lock our door for a different reason now.

We have received fresh vegetables from them often as they have a large allotment close by where they grow all sorts of fresh veggies. In fact a few months back we got so much we couldn't eat it quickly enough and it went bad. We often feel like our thanks and expressions of gratitude, with our very limited Chinese, is just not good enough, but as we learn Chinese we will try to be better at it.

These are our sweet zhongzi, given to us by our neighbors
Last weekend was Dragon Boat festival and the thing to eat around that time is zhongzi (sticky rice pyramids wrapped in bamboo leaves). One day we were minding our business when Ama (grandmother) came and gave us 6 pork zhongzi, yummy! Then I walked outside one day and she was cooking fried rice on her veranda, which I try not to eat, but couldn't resist when she offered me some. So I got a bowl from home, a reasonable sized one and she filled it till it was overflowing. Renalda and I shared the bowl for a tasty breakfast.

 A few days ago she came again to give us some more zhongzi but this time they were of the sweet variety. Well not really sweet, rather mildly flavored, to be dipped in sugar or honey. Also very good. Renalda and her got "talking" and she offered to show Renalda how to make "them". We misunderstood and "them" turned out to be pork fried rice with mushrooms.

It was arranged that Renalda and her would go buy the ingredients on Saturday morning (today)  and we think she waited until 9am before she tried to walk in the door. Renalda was able to say "shi fen" which means 10 minutes from our Chinese lessons... awesome! They went off to a morning market close by which we didn't know existed to "mai" (buy) the ingredients. Then came some more misunderstanding. She had examined out kitchen and noticed our bread maker which looks very similar to a rice cooker. The amount of ingredients she bought was for that size rice cooker, which meant she had to rethink the amounts of ingredients.

Then another disaster struck! Our small rice cooker clearly hadn't been used for ages as the aluminium rice bowl had cooked through. Ama had to go and get one from her kitchen so that we could use our tiny rice cooker.

Finally the rice was cooked all ingredients were ready and she made us a huge bowl of very yummy fried rice in our wok. Now we know how to make Taiwanese fried rice. The secret ingredient? We think it's MSG... heehee.
We suspect it's MSG, if someone can translate, much appreciated!

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