My late grandparents must be the most frugal person I know, frugal but not stingy. My grandmother was given a monthly budget of RM600 (USD200) to feed us. Us, I mean she had to cook and feed 6-7 of her grandchildren, my late grandfather, my parents and herself for lunch and 4 adults + 3 children for dinner. Though it was 20 years ago, it must be a challenge to think of what to cook and stay within the budget.
Last evening while cooking this rice, I realised how economical as well as time saving for her to prepare this dish as lunch for us. Often she paired this rice with seaweed soup with egg, I wonder if she knew the nutrient packed in this simple meal?
Since the first time stepping into the Dutch Asian supermarket, Willem had been telling me that he likes “kai choy”. I had never seen it before, didn’t know what it is, it did not look like what I would like so I never bought them to make something out of it. One and a half year later, he finally grabbed it from the shelf and told me he will cook this vegetable for me. Not wanting any bad surprises, I googled up “kai choy” to find that this is the vegetable that my grandmother used in the “big vegetable rice” and in English, it’s called mustard greens.
So thanks to Willem, I get to taste part of my childhood once again. This recipe is a combination of many recipes I found online and my personal feel of ingredients quantity, I am quite happy with the result.
Ingredients (to serve 4):
- mustard greens – 500-600 gram, cut into tiny pieces. It may look like it’s a lot of vegetable but they shrink a lot through the cooking process, you might even add more the second time cooking this rice
- 2 cups of (uncooked) rice (300 gram) – rinse 2-3 times
- 20 grams (1 BIG spoonful) dried shrimps – soaked, soften and cut into small pieces
- 4 shallots – slice thinly
- 4 shiitake mushrooms (optional) – soaked, soften and cut into small pieces. Personally the mushrooms reminds me too much of yam rice, I would cook without mushrooms next time
- 250 gram pork – if possible mix half fatty pork and half lean, cut into tiny pieces
- 2 tablespoon cooking oil
- 1 maggi bouillon cube* – crashed into powder
- 3 teaspoon salt or more to taste
- 1.5 glasses of water
- Rice cooker – if you do not have a rice cooker, you may finish the rice in the wok.
- Heat up a wok with the cooking oil and add dried shrimps, stir for few seconds, add the shallots.
- When the shallots are slightly brown and the shrimps are “jumping” in the wok, add the pork. Keep stirring until pork is 80% cooked, add the mushrooms.
- Throw in the mustard green, mix well and add the uncooked rice.
- Add the maggi bouillon powder and salt, mix well, it should taste slightly saltier than you would want to eat it, the taste gets diluted when the rice is cooked.
- Transfer the mixture from the wok to your rice cooker, add about 1.5 glasses of water into the rice, the water should be level with the rice without covering it. Cook it until your rice cooker beeps! If you do not have a rice cooker, you can try cooking this in your wok on low fire with a lid on. It would be a weird kitchen to have a wok but not a rice cooker though.
* Note to you Asian readers who are so afraid of using “MSG” in your cooking. There is no scientific proof that MSG is bad for health, it’s all myth. If you still choose to believe in the myth, then by all mean replace it with more salt which actually could cause more harm to your health that the MSG. There are of course some people who might be allergic to MSG but if you are not, don’t worry too much about consuming MSG unless you intend to eat a kilo of it every day.