Spa food or peasant food? A simple Chinese lunch

People often mistake the fact that I love food with an overarching sophistication when it comes to eating.

Truth be told, I love simple food the best. I suspect my palate is not developed enough/too desensitized to handle really subtle flavors and intricate preparation. Growing up with the big, bold flavors of Southeast Asia, I actually dislike food that’s too fussy. Some of my friends really will have to have a French food intervention someday so I can learn… 🙂

This meal is something I crave when I want food that is simple, satisfying, and delicious. It’s nothing fancy — just an omelette, greens, and rice — but it hits the spot, providing my carbs, protein, and vegetables in a tasty and frugal meal. Add a glass of water and a little after meal green tea, and you’re set for the rest of your day. Well, let’s add a few squares of chocolate afterwards, too! 😉

The egg is simple but made punchy through slow-sauteed onions. Letting the onions caramelize adds a depth and sweetness to the egg that is dream-worthy, at least for a nerd like me 😉 The egg is flavored with Asian seasonings: soy sauce instead of salt, and a mix of white and black pepper. I started the omelette by sauteing a little bit of dried tiny shrimp that I found in my pantry (from Malaysia, unfortunately I am not sure how/where to find this in the US), but this can definitely be omitted. I forgot to use a nonstick pan for the egg so it didn’t end up so pretty, but still was delicious.

This was my first time cooking dandelion greens, which are known for being quite the nutritional/health powerhouse. They are also rather bitter, so be aware of that before you make the meal. I’ve read that boiling the greens beforehand can reduce some of the bitterness, so if you prefer your greens sweeter, you might want to do that — or just substitute a different green vegetable. I tend to associate bitter food with cleansing/healthy food — not sure if there is any science to back it up!

I served it with a little dish of sliced Thai bird chilis in soy sauce, a traditional Malaysian Chinese condiment — just place a piece of chili on top of your next bite of food, or use your chopsticks to dip something from the meal in the chili-infused spicy soy sauce. You can substitute or mix fish sauce instead of soy sauce, for a slightly different taste. Just be careful not to burn your hands when slicing up your chili!

Chinese-style Omelette with Sauteed Fresh Dandelion Greens

Serves 2

Ingredients

  • 2-3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 eggs
  • One small/medium onion, sliced
  • 2-3 teaspoons soy sauce
  • A sprinkle of fresh ground black pepper and white pepper
  • 3 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • 2 handfuls of dandelion greens (about 1/2 a lb)
  • Cooked brown rice

Directions

  1. In a frying pan, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil. Add sliced onion, and saute over medium-high heat, allowing the onion to become translucent and brown.
  2. While onion is cooking, break four eggs into a medium sized bowl. Add soy sauce, peppers, and beat thoroughly. Add a tablespoon of water if desired.
  3. Once onion has carmelized, move the onions into an even layer at the bottom of the pan. Pour egg mixture on top and allow to cook over medium/medium-low heat. Using a spatula, occasionally lift up cooked egg and allow uncooked egg to flow to the bottom of the pan, speeding cooking time. When egg is mostly set, flip omelette to finish cooking.
  4. In another saucepan, heat remaining olive oil. Add in diced garlic and saute until garlic just begins turning golden, releasing the flavor. Do not burn garlic!
  5. While garlic heats, wash dandelion greens and cut into thirds.
  6. Once garlic begins to turn golden, add the stems to the pan. Saute for a minute, and allow to wilt. Add the middle part of the greens, saute for another 30 seconds, and then add the last bunch of greens. Spacing adding the greens like this allows for two things: (1) The stems, as they are more fibrous, will take more time to cook. This gives them the most time in the heat. (2) By dividing the introduction of the greens, it is easier for your pan to return back to high heat and stay at the required heat consistently.
  7. Once you are done, remove greens from the pan and serve with egg and rice.
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