At the risk of sounding redundant, there’s a store at the corner of San Marcelino and Quirino Avenues in Manila where Speedy buys vegetarian “meat” for Sam. The last time Speedy was there, one of the items he bought was vegetarian barbecue. The pack contained thick slices of what looked like ham but was, of course, made of soya. We’ve never tried that item before, and I wasn’t really sure how I should prepare the barbecue — should I grill the slices or fry them? After deliberating for half an hour, I decided to make kebobs — or is it kabobs?
Whatever the correct spelling, I’m referring to the Middle Eastern skewered meals that may contain meat, seafood or vegetables, or all of them. It’s simpler to call them barbecue, isn’t it? That’s the name for anything skewered and grilled in the Philippines. But barbecue is a much complex subject than that, really, and now isn’t the time to delve into that. I just want to write about the kebobs that I made for Sam and the rice that went with them.
Because the vegetarian barbecue was already seasoned, I simply cut each slice into quarters. I also cut tomatoes and bell peppers which I seasoned with a little salt and pepper. I skewered everything, sandwiching the vegetarian barbecue between pieces of tomatoes and bell peppers. That’s how they looked before they went on the grill. And that’s Sam in the background making mango smoothie.
Now here’s the thing. Because the soy-based vegetarian barbecue contained no fat, and neither did the tomatoes and bell peppers, the kebobs are best brushed with olive oil before, during and after grilling.
To accompany the kebobs, I made egg, garlic and scallion fried rice. Sam is ovo-lacto vegetarian, not vegan, and she eats eggs and dairy products.
I browned garlic in vegetable oil, added the cold rice, sprinkled salt and pepper, and stir fried everything until the rice was heated through. Then, I made a well at the center of the rice, poured in beaten eggs and, over, low heat, I stirred the rice near the eggs slowly. Slow, circular motion, the circle going wider and wider as you stir, like a spiral. As the eggs set, they got distributed nicely in the rice without getting overcooked because of the constant motion. I added the scallions last.
When the rice was done, I set aside a portion for Sam. To the remaining rice in the wok, I added chopped lechon kawali — one pot meal for us non-vegetarians.