Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Choy Sum Stir Fried with Eggs--Cah Caisim Orak-arik Telur

Indonesian food is a marvelous melange of ingredients and influences from around the world.  Peanuts, native to South America, were brought to Asia by the Portuguese.  Although nutmeg and cloves are native to Indonesia, many other spices commonly used in Indonesian dishes, including coriander and cumin, drifted to the islands from traders to the west.  Dutch, Portuguese, Arabic, Indian, Chinese and Champa influences are evident in the culture and cuisine of Indonesia.  Although  Chinese were reported to comprise less than 2% of the the population in the 2000 census, they have had a disproportionally large impact on Indonesian society and culture.  Of course, one of the greatest areas of impact is on the food.

There are countless recipes entitled orak arik.  Simply meaning scrambled, these are simple stir fry dishes in which eggs are scrambled with vegetables.  They are quick, flavorful, and a good source for protein for people unable to afford or not wanting to consume meat.  The ingredients as well as the cooking method point to the obvious Chinese origin of this dish.  Along with some steamed rice it makes for a most satisfying meal.

This is another recipe adapted from 240 Resep Hindangan Sehari-Hari untuk 2 Bulan 
(240 Recipes of Dishes for Every Day for 2 Months).

1 bunch of choy sum (about 1/2 pound) cut in 2-inch lengths
2 eggs, beaten
2 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced
4 shallots, thinly sliced
2 red chiles, thinly sliced on the diagonal
1 tsp fish sauce
1 TBS oyster sauce
pinch of salt
1/4 tsp white pepper
1/4 tsp sugar
2 TBS water
2 green onions, sliced into 1/2-inch pieces on the diagonal

2 TBS oil for stir-frying

Heat the oil in a wok and stir in the garlic, shallots and chiles.  Briefly fry until fragrant, then push to the side of the wok.  Add the beaten eggs and stir until scrambled.  Then add the choy sum, stirring until limp.  Add the fish sauce, oyster sauce, salt, pepper, and sugar.  Fry quickly, tossing the vegetables and eggs to coat thoroughly with the sauce.  Add the water and cook for a minute or two so everything is well cooked.  Stir in the green onions.  Remove from heat and pour into a serving dish.  Serve immediately.  (Although in Indonesia this might well be cooked at noon and not be eaten until several hours later, most Americans will probably enjoy this dish served hot.)


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