Fierce Foodie: Seaweed and Peaches
A blogumn by Roya Hamadani
No, it’s not the name of a new indy band you should have heard of. Nor is it the list of ingredients in an amazing facial mask or foot scrub. Seaweed and peaches refers to one of the main influences on my culinary tastes, and for better and worse, on my life: my mother.
My last blog regaled my mother’s efforts to rehabilitate expired food, like a sort of “Mold Whisperer”. The fact that she can make something far more delicious out of nearly rotten ingredients than you will find at any Whole Foods is only one of the bizarre and magical things about her. Another is her exuberant and daring palate.
The best place for her to showcase her talents in this regard is the ever present Chinese buffet. Since I was a small child she has taken me to the Great Walls and Golden Palaces of the world, where the heat lamps shine down on General Tso’s and patrons stick to vinyl booths under giant lighted plastic pictures of far off Oriental scenes. Over the years such places have added more and more “American” fare to their offerings, i.e., anything smothered in mayonnaise or bright yellow cheese, and their stale cookies, sawdust cake, and the oddly delicious banana chunks drowned in sweet red goop sauce.
The buffet is her palette, the plate her canvas. On it she mixes squid and imitation crab macaroni salad with olives and pickle slices. Mandarin oranges cavort with fried shrimp and mushrooms stuffed with pork are buried under freakishly pink mussels on the half shell and watermelon chunks. And of course, the masterpiece duet – seaweed salad and canned cling peaches.
It’s not the fact that she never gets sick from her crazy combinations that shocks me; it’s her sheer bravery that impresses me. A picky, timid, anxious eater she will never be. My mother eats like a warrior, and I can’t help being proud of her.
This is one of my mother’s favorites and most often requested dishes. It’s a staple in the Philippines and has as many variations as there are kitchens.
Prepare oriental noodles and set aside – you can use Pansit noodles, Chinese egg noodles, wheat noodles, rice noodles, even ramen noodles. Set aside.
Sauté one minced clove of garlic and one small onion chopped fine in 1 tbsp oil. A bit of finely diced ginger and sliced green onion (white part only) is also good. Cook until soft but not brown, then add meat. You can use anything, but I suggest leftover roast chicken shredded, shrimp, and or Chinese sausage (sold in oriental markets).
Add 1 tbsp soy sauce and ¼ cup water and simmer for ten minutes. Do not let go dry – add more water and soy sauce as necessary.
Remove the meat from the skillet and add the vegetables. Again, use whatever you like or what’s on hand. My mom usually uses carrots and zucchini sliced into long thin sticks, bok choy (Chinese cabbage) or Napa cabbage sliced fine. Cook briefly then add meat and noodles. Add soy sauce and salt and pepper to taste.
This is a dish that only gets better after a night in the fridge, and if you want to eat it cold the next morning with mandarin oranges, I won’t tell anybody.