Archive for the ‘ Food ’ Category

“I’m going to pull a dad.”

In reference to Uncle Jing-hong, a.k.a. Uncle #5 from Chicago (on my mom’s side of family, married to Aunty #5) who’s close to turning 70 but seems to be my most handy and energetic uncle who’s willing to jump into any situation and fix things. He taught me how to change a flat tire in college in case I was ever stuck out on the roads of Chicago and he was the first to jump into the trunk of my car when I locked my keys in the car at my brother’s wedding. (He tried to unlock the car with a coat hanger through the cat-door-sized opening through my back seat armrest.)

I can reach the lock!

But when it comes to dinner time, it’s been told that if he ever has a glass of wine or if he’s tired, he’ll often close his eyes and take a nap at the dinner table while everyone else continues on. So tonight, I had a dinner with my favorite twin cousins (Jid and Donna) at Kirala, and near the end of dinner, Jid was so tired she said she was going to pull a dad. So she did just that as Donna and I finished off the Hamachi Teriyaki and Seafood Yakiudon dishes. Our third dish, the Beef Sukiyaki was good but a bit too salty. I love coming up to Nor Cal…and what a treat to be with both cousins! Good thing Donna’s hanging out in Nor Cal on her winter break and avoiding the Chicago blizzard of 2011.

Too bad the waiter had a shaky hand and was a little off in the centering.

Also, apparently some Chinese names have meaning and tradition behind them and are passed down through the characters. We’re not sure where this tradition comes from, but for some of us, we inherited our mom’s first name as our middle name. Growing up, my mom once explained to me that she did that so I would never forget her name in case we were ever separated (perhaps this is a carry over in reference to war times when such things might happen or it seems to be just a distant dream or fleeting impression of such a thought in my head for some reason). Anyway, since my cousins are twins, they had to start sharing early on; after Aunty #5′s name “Mei Huei” one got the Mei and the other got the Huei. So the Mei was Americanized to May and the Hui somehow got lost in translation and turned into Wynne. Figure that one out…and you wonder why some of us have an identity crisis growing up Asian-American.

Xi Fan – Comfort Food for an “ABC”

It’s a chilly 50 degrees F in sunny southern California…welcome to our winters…but when the temperature drops, for this ABC (American-born-Chinese)…or ABT (American-born-Taiwanese) kid, it just means it’s a perfect opportunity to make myself some xi fan and have some friends over. It truly is the best comfort food…super hot rice porridge with all the sides to complement such as fried gluten (my favorite!), braised eel, dried fish fu, sauteed tofu, greens, ‘shrooms, and baked cheese curls! It’s comfort food that brings me back to the childhood days where practically every Sunday morning, my mom would make us rice porridge and lots of other fixin’s like green onion pancakes (with modified flour tortilla skins), steamed soft tofu with soy paste dipping sauce, and other random yummies.

But now that I’m all grown up, it’s learning how to make this porridge all by myself. Thankfully the internet exists now so I don’t have to call my mom every time I need to know how to make something I remember eating as a kid and can experiment on my own in consultation with anyone else I can find through the internet. This has been my favorite website for some basic Chinese cooking tips (as I’ve had to look up twice now what the perfect rice:water ratio is just to make rice!).

But in the end, this is how I made my:

Fish Rice Porridge

Servings: Approximately 6


  • 1.5 cups of white rice
  • water
  • ginger
  • green onion
  • white fish
  • salt
  • sesame sauce
  • pepper
  • flour


  1. Make rice ahead of time in rice cooker (a day ahead). I was too paranoid that I wouldn’t get the ratio rice for uncooked rice.
  2. Throw rice in crock pot about 2.5 hours before you plan to eat. Add water to the rice in the ratio of 1 rice amount to 2 additional water amounts. Break up the rice in the water and leave it be.
  3. Meanwhile, filet the fish into small pieces, marinate with some salt, pepper, sesame oil, and flour (I didn’t have cornstarch in the house).
  4. Sliver some ginger and slices of green onion.
  5. Throw fish, ginger, green onion into the crockpot and leave it alone til you’re ready to serve. Stir a few times every so often just to make sure it doesn’t stick in the pot.


This is definitely the lowest maintenance rice porridge I’ve made with the best results. I remember my mom always watching over the pot of rice porridge on the stove, stirring constantly so it wouldn’t burn on the bottom of the pot and adding more water until it was the perfect consistency. In my laziness and not wanting to watch over a pot of porridge on the stove, I tried making plain rice porridge in a rice cooker only to have lots of that gummy rice water boil over in the cooker making a sticky mess to clean. Then I threw the porridge into a pot and added the fish to make it fish rice porridge. It turned out ok, but just lots of cleanup. Another time, about a month later, I was even more not in the mood to cook and forgot how annoying it was to clean up gooey rice water that overflows from a rice cooker, and threw all the ingredients in the rice cooker…lets just say it was even messier and also made the rice cooker smell fishy & gingery. Blech! I had to scrub that thing and rinse out with water what should not have been rinsed out in an electric rice cooker with all its coils/metal parts and air it out for a good long while . So, enter the borrowed crock pot from mom with a little labor…and it’s perfected fish rice porridge simple enough to make on a FT working girl schedule.