When I was in college, none of my apartments where within walking distance to any grocery stores, so I ended up eating out a lot or relying on the generosity of my friends with cars. Although a significant amount of the week was spent on dining out, there where times that I, being a mature and responsible college student, would stay home to study. All right, let’s be honest, I was just trying to recover from the hang over. Regardless of the reason for me staying home, I had to find creative ways to make sure that I had food to cook.
I usually had a whole roasted chicken in my fridge that I would get from the supermarket whenever I had access to a car. The chicken was a great discovery because I realized that:
1. I didn’t have to cook a whole chicken
2. I could enjoy it as is, but also turn it into a sandwich, soup, pasta, or stir fry
3. That I can pretend that I cooked a whole chicken when I was making dinner for friends
4. If I am hung-over, roasted chicken taste like the sweet ambrosia from the Gods.
Rice was easy. On campus, we were lucky enough to have a Panda Express. Well, lucky for me, but not for my clothing size. There where times that I would order Panda Express for lunch on a daily basis for months on end. It was even better when, as the Co-Director of the Asian Pacific Student Union, I was munching on a bowl of fake, exploitative Chinese food in our offices and trying to promote the Asian American experience on campus. But, their “Orange Chicken” was delicious. Especially paired with the “Green Beans in Black Bean Sauce”. Plus, you can order a small container of white rice to go. Which was necessary to have at home.
Next to campus we had a café that would serve Mexican style breakfast. Did you know that there is this beautiful dish that involves tortilla chips, cheese, red sauce, chicken, and eggs? It’s essentially a nacho dish and no one would judge you for eating it for breakfast, because it had an egg on it. This is where I learned the beauty of “Chiliaquiles”. The best part of this place was that they where so close to my apartment that I could call and order chilaquiles and a side of scrambled eggs, hobble over in my sunglasses and hung- over state to pick it up, and then enjoy them back at home to “study”. Plus, why wouldn’t you want to eat something like tortilla chips smothered in enchilada sauce and chicken?
Anchovies where always the trickiest to find and is not a common ingredient that is just lying around campus. However, one night when I was ordering a pizza for delivery, it occurred to me. Can I order anchovies to go? The answer is “yes”! During the early 2000’s, online pizza ordering was becoming a normal thing, and I realized that I could order a pizza with a side of anchovies without dealing with the person over the phone and the awkward request for anchovies on the side. However, once the delivery person came, I had to figure out a way to play it off like the anchovies where a $1.50 joke on a friend and that I would never order a side of anchovies normally. I must have used that excuse a dozen times. I could picture the pizza place as the order came in.
“Here comes that anchovy order for Scott again.”
“Man, Scott is really boring, playing the same joke on his friend over and over again.”
“Maybe he just likes anchovies?”
“Nah, then he would just buy his own jar of anchovies.”
Now that I think of it. After this whole treasure hunt, I could have just purchased the anchovies, rice, and eggs at the store while I was picking up the whole roasted chicken. But, you know, this is much more fun. It made me feel like one of my ancestors from yore. I felt like I was participating in the annual hunt for mini salted and oil packed fish and pre-roasted whole chicken and their young: scrambled eggs, while gathering cooked rice along the brambles of my cave. Call me a modern day cave man.
This dish is based on one of my favorite Chinese restaurant dishes: Salted Fish and Chicken Fried Rice. It’s a beautiful blend of salty, nutty, fishy, and chicken flavors. Ok, the last description was more of a noun, but the chicken is more of a flavor aspect to the dish then a main component but you can add more chicken if you want.
Check out the “Fried Rice 101” post for more information on fried rice.
3 medium eggs, scrambled (if already cooked, then that’s cool)
2 tbs oil
8 anchovies fillets
1/2 cup roasted chicken, shredded
1 medium shallot sliced
¼ cup scallions, minced
3 cups leftover rice, separated
1 tbs soy sauce
2 tsp black pepper
cook eggs in 1 tbs oil on high, remove and set aside when cooked through
sautee shallots, anchovies, chicken, and scallions in the rest of the oil in a wok or deep pan on high heat
add rice and toss until fully coated and heated completely through, 3 to 4 minutes
pour the soy sauce and pepper to the rice and stir until fully mixed