Tap, Tap, Tap. The only noise that could be heard was the tapping noises from the fluid motion of my fingers on the keyboard and the sound of occasional cars passing by our apartment. My weekends just seemed to be scheduled with heaps of essays, homework, studying. It was frustrating. The sun was seeping through the cracks of the curtains but I hadn’t noticed because I had been stuck in the hole of my room for several hours already.
Stretching my sore arms out, I decided to give in and just take a break.
“Just for a while” – I told myself.
In an instant, I found myself scrolling down my college, mission, high school pictures on Facebook. Out of the corner of my eye I noticed a picture – 7 girls dressed in blue-collared shirts with maroon sweaters grinning at the camera. Suddenly a chamber full of forgotten memories from the past unlocked and came flooding out – laughter, silly costumes, school uniforms, Thailand, Macau, Dukbokki, California Pizza Kitchen brownies, sleepovers…
I traced the matching buttoned shirts and dark skirts with my finger on the screen of my laptop. In our uniforms, we seemed so young, so naive and so innocent. We endured through teachers, homework, exams, athletic events, dating, university applications together- from shopping to watching Korean dramas; from monopoly games to prom. And yes, we even planned our marriages; how many kids we would have and who would get married first.
(5 years ago)
“Someday, we’re are all going to be married and we’re going to be bridesmaids at each other’s weddings…”
“Then we will each have 2 kids!”
“Each of us?”
“We have to be neighbors so that our kids will always be best friends!”
“Oh my goodness, 7 x 2 = 14 kids? That means we can make an entire soccer team!”
Our conversations would be so fun and silly. Even though years have passed, but we have never forgotten our childhood dream of being able to continue to nurture our friendship.
A friendship that blossomed into sisterhood. A myriad of precious moments transformed into cherished memories. How grateful I am for the these girls that have been placed in my life. Despite our distinct personalities and goals, they accepted me for who I was. They were there for me in the most difficult times of my life and yet they still loved me. They saw the worst and best of me. I can say I am a much better person because of them.
So why am I writing about this? Last week was actually a very special week, because it was one of their birthdays. Since high school, we’ve had a tradition of throwing the most wacky and most creative birthday party surprises for each other – from amazing races to photoshoots to scrapbooks and even surprise deliveries! People may think we were going over the top but more than anything it was a way for us to express our love and gratitude for one another. It was one of the most incredible, exciting time periods of my life. I love it and still miss it everyday.
In the hopes of perpetuating this tradition, Zoe and I want to dedicate this delicious, warm family recipe to one of them. A traditional Cantonese fare that is filled with amazing aromas of ginger, garlic and scallions; scented with pandan leaves; fragrance from the classic dried seafood combined with steaming hot rice. Growing up, we would eat this all the time at home – this is a perfect dish to be served during the fall season. A meal well loved, and made with love, shared at dinner table with your family, just like these girls.
“To one of the most amazing people in the world – Tina,
Happy Belated Birthday! Time flies and we can’t believe you’re almost done with college! We have both seen you grow and blossom into the wonderful woman you are!
There is so much to say but not enough space to express every thought. But thank you thank you thank you for for being an amazing friend You have been such a blessing in our lives! Although we are not there to celebrate with you but we hope you know how much we love you! You are truly an incredibly talented girl. Continue to make the people around you smile and laugh just like you did for us.
We love you”
Ingredients – Serves 8-10
- 4.5 cups of rice
- 1/2 onion, diced
- 2 tbsp pureed ginger (or 4-6 slices of fresh ginger)
- 4-5 cloves of garlic
- 2 pandan leaves, tied in a knot (optional)
- 15 dried Shiitake mushrooms
- 4.5 tbsp dried shrimp**
- 12 small pieces of scallops**
- 1 lb chicken chicken breast, cut into bite-sized chunks
- 2.5 tbsp GF soy sauce
- 2 tbsp honey
Seasoning for Rice:
- 3 tbsp fish sauce
- 3 tbsp GF soy sauce
- dash of white pepper
- Garnish: freshly chopped scallions
(** : These are essential ingredients for this classic recipe. You can easily find these ingredients at your asian grocery store)
How to Make:
- Place the dried shrimp, scallops, dried mushrooms into 3 separate microwave-safe bowls and pour hot water over. Allow to soak for 30 minutes.
- Microwave your soaking dried shrimp for one and half minutes.
- Microwave your dried mushrooms for 2 minutes.
- Heat up a non-stick pan, sauté 2 cloves of garlic, 1 tbsp of ginger and onion until fragrant. Add your uncooked rice and mix till fragrant (5 minutes).
- Add your rice to your rice cooker, along with the reserved soaking liquid of the dried shrimp, dried mushroom and dried scallops. Pour in more water as needed to cook the rice (follow markings in the rice cooker).
- Top off with the scallops, shrimp and 2 pandas leaves. Start cooking your rice!
Chicken & Mushrooms:
- Marinate your chicken cubes in soy sauce and honey. Set it aside for at least 30 minutes.
- Slice your mushrooms into 6-8 slices.
- Using the same pan you cooked your rice, sauté the remaining garlic and ginger. Toss in the chicken and mushrooms. Cook the chicken till it is no longer pink. Set aside. (Add in a little water if slightly dry)
- When the rice is done, take out the pandan leaves.
- Add in the chicken, soy sauce, fish sauce, white pepper and mix with a fork (so you dont’ break the kernels of rice). Taste and adjust seasoning.
- Serve with freshly chopped scallions.
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