I was born with what I believe is a legitimate congenital defect.
The technical, Latin nomenclature for this is (or should be), Lingua Infans, or “Baby Tongue”.
Regardless of appetites or desires, the ingestion of fiery, spicy foods results in pain and distress. As a result, I can eat almost no Indian food, and Jamaican food scares the pants off me. Even a heavy-handed use of black pepper can overwhelm.
Many people make fun of this flaw, and inform me that it’s a matter of will; that if I want to be a grown-up and eat spicy foods, I should just put on my big girl panties, and do it. Not true. I’d love to be able to tuck into a plate of tikka masala, or some spicy nachos, but I am physically unable to do it.
But what I also don’t do is make a big deal out of it. It’s my habañero-covered cross to bear, no one else’s. So when eating out I’ve become very good at avoiding suspect menu items.
I think that’s one reason why I love Chinese food so much. While there are dishes with enough heat to really hurt me, they don’t comprise the bulk of the menu. Other Asian cuisine; most notably Thai, are not so safe.
This week’s recipe is my home version of Chicken Mei Fun (pronounced, “my fun”). It’s very similar to fried rice, but instead of rice grains, angel hair pasta made from rice is used (Find it in Asian markets and some grocery stores).
Chicken Mei Fun
8 ounces rice vermicelli
Lay into a pot of very hot water, and soak for 20 minutes. After soaking, pour into a colander in which you’ve placed the spinach. This will wilt the spinach and get it ready to toss into the stir fry.
3 cups shredded rotisserie chicken
3 eggs, well beaten
2 tablespoons chives, chopped
2 teaspoons vegetable oil
Make an omelet with the eggs and chives. Cut into 1/2-inch strips and set aside for assembly.
2 carrots, julienned
1/2 yellow onion, sliced thinly
8 ounces mushrooms
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons grated ginger
1 large shallot, diced
3/4 cup soy sauce
2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 tablespoon cider vinegar
1 tablespoon Sherry
2 cups raw spinach
1 cup frozen peas, thawed
*Stir frying goes crazy fast once it gets started, so get all of your prep done before turning on the burner.
If you don’t have a wok, get a very large, very heavy pot almost smoking hot. Add 1 tablespoon oil to the pan. Put in the carrots and mushrooms. Cook for a couple of minutes, and when all the liquid has released and cooked out, add onions. Cook for 30 seconds.
Stir in aromatics then immediately add the proteins. Pour in sauce and toss.
When coated, pour in noodles, spinach, and thawed peas. Gently mix to coat.
I’ve eaten this from a few Chinese restaurants. But the more popular recipe is called Singapore Mei Fun. It’s a reflection of the Indian population living in Singapore, and this version has curry. As you can guess, because of my affliction, I do not have a good relationship with curry.
But if you would like, you are welcome to Singapore up this recipe with the addition of 1 ½ tablespoons curry powder and 3 dried bird’s eye chilis.
Bon Appetite, intrepid soul.
Thanks for your time.