Baby Bok Choi

Girlie went on a grand business adventure to Xi’an and Chon Qing, which she summed up in this adorable bit of an email:

Could I put in a special request for comfort food and perhaps even a beer? “Comfort food” in this context would be anything home-cooked that does not involve any of the following, all of which I have eaten in the last three days: sea snails, mystery sea creatures, baby squid, gamy mutton, Thai chilies, whole fish or eels, quail eggs, copious amounts of chili oil, whole raw fish on kebabs for hotpot, three kinds of tripe in the same meal, liver balls, or shrimp in lemon curd, or meat of any sort still connected to bones or tendons.

I followed through for her and prepared to put her on a plain diet of her favorite things here: baby bok choi and noodles or  rice.  I went to the local food market which I’d found a week ago, and wandered around.The fun thing about shopping as an expatriot in China is that you get to experiance a small bit of what I can only imagine it’s like for black people visiting Maine.  Everyone stares at you, from a flicker of interest to a full on, mouth agape, wide-eyed stare of utter and complete shock, that’s only cute when toddlers do it.

What is this Lao Wai doing here?  This is where I shop!

bag o' bok choi

I wandered about, soaking in the shop and smiling at the vendors.  Among the dumpling ladies and the noodle men, there are 7 vegetable stalls selling essentially the same things, for essentially the same prices.  The woman who got my business was awarded such honor because she smiled back at me.

As I mentioned, I was on a mission to secure enough bok choi to please a now (temporarily) dietarily skittish Girlie, so I handed over 15 rmb and asked for That One. I got at least a kilo (see left).  Damn, that’s some cheap vegetables.  Compare to the expat market nearer our apartment, where I got 4 button mushrooms and 12 bok choi for 1ormb.

This led to a new rule for dining out in China.  I will never, ever, ever, pay for fried rice.  For a fun writing experience, here’s how to make fried rice.

If Yan Can Cook, So Can You!
If Yan Can Cook, So Can You!

First check for leftover rice in your fridge.  It can be from indian take out, home-made or even brown rice.  All that matters is that it’s cooked, and COLD.

Wok cooking is loud, so I suggest Soundgarden Down the Upside for a soundtrack.  Alternately, Ghostface Killah’s Big Doe Rehab. Either way, your neighbors won’t suspect you’re making Chinese food.  Crank it.

Clean, chop and wok fry/cook meat/vegetables, in your wok, on high.  Remember, Hot Pan, Cold Oil, No Stick!

Add soy sauce, a bit of Chinese rice wine and whatever else (oyster sauce, preserved black beans, basically anything but cheese)

thrown in cold rice and stir constantly, until everything is a toasty, greasy, tasty mass of yum.

Turn the music up even louder and chow down with a Tsingtao.

  • http://www.portlandfood.org Angelhair

    I wonder if you’ll ever get used to the stares? When we have travelled in China, we have been not only stared at but photographed! I guess it’s because Jeff’s very tall and blonde, so Chinese people want to have their picture taken with him. I think it’s only a matter of time, though, before people start whipping out their cell phones and snap a pic of the bearded guy in their neighborhood!

    • http://www.markenglehartevans.com Markovitch

      We’ve had a few photographers get us when we’re out together, but I have this wonderful combination of dark sunglasses, fedora and beard that the average gawker finds intimidating, and children find monstrous. What amazes me is that we live in a very expat heavy area, so you’d think the peeps at the local market would be a little whitey-weary by this point.

  • http://www.portlandfood.org Angelhair

    I wonder if you’ll ever get used to the stares? When we have travelled in China, we have been not only stared at but photographed! I guess it’s because Jeff’s very tall and blonde, so Chinese people want to have their picture taken with him. I think it’s only a matter of time, though, before people start whipping out their cell phones and snap a pic of the bearded guy in their neighborhood!

    • http://www.markenglehartevans.com Markovitch

      We’ve had a few photographers get us when we’re out together, but I have this wonderful combination of dark sunglasses, fedora and beard that the average gawker finds intimidating, and children find monstrous. What amazes me is that we live in a very expat heavy area, so you’d think the peeps at the local market would be a little whitey-weary by this point.

  • BiggerSmarter

    Wifey had the experience in the west of the country of having a group of locals pull her man out of his chair and take him to the market where they could weigh him on the pig scale. 6 foot tall blonde don’t wander ’bout much.

    Also all the boys liked to pull his leg hair. So when it warms up, keep your chewbacha ass covered up. Otherwise you might just run into a collector of sorts.

  • BiggerSmarter

    Wifey had the experience in the west of the country of having a group of locals pull her man out of his chair and take him to the market where they could weigh him on the pig scale. 6 foot tall blonde don’t wander ’bout much.

    Also all the boys liked to pull his leg hair. So when it warms up, keep your chewbacha ass covered up. Otherwise you might just run into a collector of sorts.

  • BiggerSmarter

    If Yan can cook….so can you!

    Go and get yourself a big ol chopper and make some raddish roses!

    Don’t forget his favorite….corn starch to thicken.

  • BiggerSmarter

    If Yan can cook….so can you!

    Go and get yourself a big ol chopper and make some raddish roses!

    Don’t forget his favorite….corn starch to thicken.

  • http://portland.daveknows.org Dave

    Yan de-bones a chicken:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sy6P3E84Dqs

    Shoot, when did he get a Food Channel show?

    • http://www.markenglehartevans.com Markovitch

      There was a concept bouncing around after I had surgery:

      I’d go to people’s houses and yell at them until they cooked something correctly. I wouldn’t demonstrate, or help, or applaud good work, I’d just yell when they do dumb things. I’d have a Hype man ‘You Cut those potatoes baby, Yeah!’ and a chain smoking hobbit in the corner grimacing at the idea of eating this god awful food.

  • http://portland.daveknows.org Dave

    Yan de-bones a chicken:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sy6P3E84Dqs

    Shoot, when did he get a Food Channel show?

    • http://www.markenglehartevans.com Markovitch

      There was a concept bouncing around after I had surgery:

      I’d go to people’s houses and yell at them until they cooked something correctly. I wouldn’t demonstrate, or help, or applaud good work, I’d just yell when they do dumb things. I’d have a Hype man ‘You Cut those potatoes baby, Yeah!’ and a chain smoking hobbit in the corner grimacing at the idea of eating this god awful food.

  • Hornbreaker

    It is crazy to me that people never get used to the lao wai. I’ve been photographed once, in one of the most touristy parts of Macao, which didn’t make any sense to me because there were cute white families everywhere. And a full-grown adult screamed “waiguoren!” at me when I was standing outside a branch of my school – in a plaza that boasts three other English schools staffed by waiguoren. Insane.

  • Hornbreaker

    It is crazy to me that people never get used to the lao wai. I’ve been photographed once, in one of the most touristy parts of Macao, which didn’t make any sense to me because there were cute white families everywhere. And a full-grown adult screamed “waiguoren!” at me when I was standing outside a branch of my school – in a plaza that boasts three other English schools staffed by waiguoren. Insane.