I had the most difficult surname to pronounce growing up.
Every year, at the beginning of school, the teacher would read out the list of students in their class. Without fail, they would get to my surname and the following two things would happen:
Step 1 - They would be unable to pronounce it and they would either give up and ask me or spend a good amount of time wrestling with their tongue and mouth trying to pronounce it. I would sink further into my chair praying "please, please, please stop..."
Step 2 - Then, surname sorted out, to make me feel like I was at home or familiar, they would say "Oh I know someone else with your surname. Do you know them?" not knowing that it is about as common as "Smith." I appreciated the effort though.
Which is why when I got married to Mr NQN and he asked me if I wanted to take his surname, I grabbed it without hesitation. Everyone knows how to pronounce it and nobody asks if I know someone else with the surname Elliott. Of course as years went on, my maiden name is now so common that many have learned how to pronounce it but the questions about knowing someone else with that surname never stopped. Then there were also questions about my mother's food. Does she cook well? What does she cook? Does she cook fried rice and what's her secret?
Well my mother makes fantastic fried rice I have to say. And what's her secret? There probably is no enormous secret apart from what most people know by now, to use day old steamed rice, gone cold and hard in the fridge. She also adds a generous amount of lup cheong Chinese pork sausage which is nowadays even sold at the supermarket. I always ask for more peas and carrots so that it has a sweetness from the carrots and a juicy pop from the peas. When we made this the other day, I was surprised at how quickly it all came together, and then how quickly it was all eaten up.
So tell me Dear Reader, what do you think of your own name? And if you could be named anything, what would it be? Oh and btw, if you were curious, my surname was "Ng" - do you know someone with that last name and how to pronounce it? ;)
My Mother's Fried Rice
5 cups cooked, cold long grain rice, made the day before (it's very important that you don't use freshly cooked rice)
2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons sugar
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1 teaspoon white pepper
oil for frying
200g/7ozs prawns in shell or 100g/3.5ozs prawns shelled, diced
2-3 Lup Cheong Chinese sausages, diced (I like 3 but you might find that too many as they aren't that healthy ;))
100g/3.5ozs bbq pork (char siew), diced
1 onion, diced
2 medium carrots, diced
2 cups peas
3 stalks of green onion, chopped
Buyer's tip: Lup Cheong can be found at supermarkets in the Asian foods aisle. It is an air cured sausage but must be cooked before eating. You can add it to stir fries or steam it (even on top of rice in a rice cooker).
Step 1 - Place the cold day old rice in a large bowl and add the salt, sugar, sesame oil and white pepper and stir to combine and distribute.
Step 2 - Heat a large wok or frypan to medium and add some oil. Meanwhile, beat the eggs and then when the pan or wok has heated, fry them as a large, flat omelette. Remove from the pan and slice into strips using a knife or a pair of scissors and set aside (this doesn't get added until the very end).
Step 3 - Heat a little more oil in the pan on high heat and fry the onion until fragrant, add in prawn meat and fry until almost cooked. add in lup cheong and bbq pork and cook for another minute tossing in the pan or wok. Transfer all of this mixture to the big bowl of seasoned rice and stir to combine everything.
Step 4 - Add some more oil and fry the peas and carrots and fry for a couple of minutes. Then add the big bowl of rice and the green onions to the wok and fry everything for a few minutes, to give it all a nice breath from the hot wok. Add the egg slices and check for seasoning (I always like more white pepper here) and then ladle onto a serving plate.