Number 31: Little Things

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(Scrambled eggs with shrimps and green onions, sweet potato tempura, broccoli, and rice)

A curious mix of Japanese and Cantonese dishes?

Ever since I began packing bentos, I have developed a liking for sweet potatoes. My favourite type is the ones with purple skin and pale yellow flesh, which adds a nice touch of colour one’s lunch. Unfortunately, the grocery store that sells it does not stock it consistently, so I sometimes resort to the orange type more common in North America. In the past, I have baked them (example) or made them into fries (example). This time, I decided to kick it up a notch and attempt the art of tempura for the first time ever.

The shrimp scrambled eggs, also known as 蝦仁炒蛋 in Chinese, is one of my “home-cooking” favourites. A common Cantonese dish, the main ingredients are prawns, eggs, and green onions. Usually, I like my eggs a little runny, but as a bento dish, I thought it would be safer to cook them thoroughly.

Here, I used frozen prawns, which texture is not necessarily inferior to that of fresh ones if handled carefully. In Chinese cuisine, there is a great emphasis on the degree to which the shrimps are “bouncy” (彈牙) when you chew on them (I’d love it if someone can come up with an equivalent word in English). This quality is an indicator of freshness.

I recently learned from my mother that placing the shrimps, after they have thawed and been treated, back into the fridge makes the shrimp significantly “fresher” tasting. After several trials, I can confirm that this little trick works marvelously well. Following her advice, I also “butterflied” the shrimps: running the knife along the back of the shrimp without halving it completely. This also improved the shrimps’ texture. As unproductive as my winter break was, I think I really benefitted from the experience to cook with my mother in the kitchen. She showed me the importance in paying attention to little details and steps that could make a large difference in the long run.

P.S.: I also wrote a post on katsudon this week. If you have any tips or thoughts you have regarding the topic, please share!

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3 comments

  1. souvenirkattunge

    mmm… scrambled eggs with shrimp. It’s one of my favourites too! I will try this method of putting the shrimps back into the fridge after thawing.
    My mother puts chopped up shrimp into her dumpling filling and sometimes when we have left over filling, she’d mix it with eggs and scramble it. It’s like scrambled eggs with shrimp but also with chives and a bit of pork.

  2. souvenirkattunge: The dish you described sounds delicious; I think I’ve done something similar too (without the chives but with finely chopped green beans). Hooray for Cantonese home dishes!

  3. mingwei

    Oh, what a pretty bento. I had the egg dish just last night. >w<

    As for an English equivalent for that word… How “springy” the shrimp is? Perhaps, tension when chewing? Indeed, it is one of those words that are supremely difficult to translate.

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