My daughter Sam loves eggplants. Broiled, grilled, boiled, peeled or unpeeled. Her younger sister Alex balks at eggplants. She doesn’t like the slimy texture so she stays away from them. She prefers leafy vegetables (kangkong has got to be her favorite) and starchy vegetables like squash and potatoes. We’ve been encouraging Alex to eat eggplants for as long as I can remember — that’s why we often stuff our tortang talong with cheese.
Recently, I wondered how Alex would treat the eggplants if they were cut into small pieces and included in one of her favorite comfort foods — fried rice. I cooked fried rice with small pieces of eggplants and she ate the eggplant bits.
If there’s a lesson in there somewhere, it’s this: If you’re encouraging your children to eat a particular vegetable, hiding the vegetable isn’t the only trick in the world. Sometimes, cutting the vegetable into small pieces and making it a part of a beloved dish works well too.
The “cold” cooked rice in the ingredients list means that the rice was cooked several hours earlier and has allowed to dry out a bit. Newly-cooked rice is too wet for cooking fried rice.
- 4 to 5 c. of cold cooked rice, stirred to separate the grains
- 4 to 5 chicken thigh fillets, cut into thin strips and seasoned with 2 tbsps. of oyster sauce, 2 tbsps. of light soy sauce and 2 tbsps. of hoisin sauce
- 1 large eggplant, cut into ¼-inch cubes
- 1 carrot, peeled and cut into ¼-inch cubes
- 4 cloves of garlic, peeled and minced
- 1 red onion (or 2 shallots), peeled and thinly sliced
- 2 eggs, beaten
- 2 to 3 tbsps. of cooking oil
- 2 tbsps. of light soy sauce
- 2 tbsps. of oyster sauce
- a drizzle of sesame seed oil
- Heat the cooking oil in a pan. Add the beaten eggs and cook until firm. Scoop out and transfer to a chopping board, roll and cut into thin strips. Set aside.
- Reheat the remaining oil. Add the chicken strips, with the marinade, and stir fry until the meat changes color. Add the eggplant and carrot cubes. Continue cooking, stirring often, the meat and vegetables should be done within a minute or two.
- Add the garlic and onion slices. Stir a few times. Add the rice. Pour in the soy sauce and oyster sauce. Season with salt and pepper. Stir and toss to distribute evenly until the rice is heated through. Turn off the heat. Add the sliced eggs and drizzle with sesame seed oil. Toss a few more times and serve at once.