Sometime last week, I whipped up a plate of cincaluk (fermented shrimps) fried rice for breakfast and posted a photograph of it on Facebook. That triggered a wave of cravings for fried rice and everyone made up their minds to cook that during the coming weekend…or in the case of my friend in New Zealand, she cooked hers right away that day itself and shared this photograph of it on Facebook…
*My NZ friend‘s photo on Facebook*
She, of course, claimed hers to be the true Nyonya original unlike mine as in her own words, I would usually campak (throw) everything in. That, of course, is very true as I do not stick to recipes and when I cook, I just follow my instincts…and it will all depend on what I can find in the fridge to campak into the dish I am cooking.
For one thing, she had serai (lemon grass) in hers – I had that too on one of the previous occasions when I cooked cincaluk fried rice but this time around, as it was around 5 or 6.00 a.m. in the morning, I did not want to go out into my garden in the dark to cut a stalk or two to use. Who knows what creatures may be lying there waiting for an unsuspecting victim! So I just did it my way…with sliced shallots, garlic and chilies.
When she saw my photograph, Quay Po asked whether I used dried chilies for the dish. Nope, they were fresh chilies but normally I would brown the shallots and the garlic in a bit of oil first before throwing in the sliced chilies but that morning, I did not bother and threw everything in. That was why by the time the others turned brown, the chilies looked a little burnt…like dried chilies.
Having done that, I added a spoonful of cincaluk…and the prawns and stirred everything together till the prawns were cooked before adding the rice. Then, there was a little problem with the rice! I had checked the fridge the previous day and found a tupperware full of rice and I made up my mind there and then to fry that for breakfast the next morning. When I took out the container and opened it the following morning, half of the rice was gone!!!! It seemed that my missus did not cook enough rice for our lunch and dinner the previous day so she took some from there to heat up and eat. Thus, there I was…cooking fried rice with not much rice at hand.
To make up the bulk, I decided to throw in some pineapples that were in the fridge and I also added two eggs, chopped spring onions as well as a sprinkling of sugar to counter the saltiness of the cincaluk…and finally, it was done…
A cousin said that it looked more like all the ingredients fried with rice…and in a way, it was true but whatever it was, it tasted very good and that was all that mattered. I certainly would do it the same way next time…with more rice and perhaps, a stalk or two of serai.