Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Asian Infusion

Several weeks ago, I read this book, The Red Thread by Ann Hood, a story about American couples adopting Chinese babies. I picked it up out of curiosity in the library and almost returned it without reading it because I had too many books and too little time, surprise, surprise. But the day before the due-to-return date, I flipped through the pages and saw the name "Chen Chen", exactly the same as my Chinese name; needless to say, my curiosity grew wild again. So I did my fastest reading: I finished the 300-page book in six hours. I ended up crying a river in the library. 

In Chinese we have a saying: every family its own problems. We go through pain and loss, and we find love and comfort again. In the book, the American mothers struggle with their marriages and their desire to become a mother, and the Chinese mothers send their baby girls away in tears. In the end, each girl is matched with a family in the land of freedom and happiness.

I have some American friends who adopted a Chinese girl, and now she's about to go to college. I often think about how her life would have turned out if she had stayed in that orphanage in rural China. I feel the pain the Chinese mother must have suffered from abandoning her daughter, and I also feel the joy the American families feel when their adopted girl grows into a fine young woman.

If you think of it, the number of Asian-American families is ever increasing nowadays; not only the families with adopted Asian children, but also the ones with interracial marriages. An article on Yahoo couple weeks ago said that 1 in 7 American marriages is an interracial marriage. The world has become a village, and nowhere is that concept better illustrated than in America. I myself is a living example of being in an interracial relationship: I was born and raised in China, and my boyfriend is one-hundred percent blue-eyed American, with half German half Irish background. We sometimes wonder what our children's eye color would be. He then wonders how I would look if I dyed my hair blond and my eyes blue. Well, I guess the only way to find that out is to use Photoshop.

So in honor of our mixed relationship, I made an Asian-American mixed meal last night.
Pineapple Curry Chicken with Rosanne Cash's Potato Salad
As I always say, Chris is such a picky eater, but of course his explanation is that he has a fragile palate; I'm not even sure "fragile" is the right word. So when he was tasting the pineapple chunks in the curry chicken he squinted his eyes and pursed his lips. I shook my head and kept on eating. I mean, when you make something for the one you love, shouldn't his reaction be "Oh my god honey this is sooooo good!" Instead he gave me this doubtful look and a repetition of "interesting, hmm, interesting, pineapple, hmm, interesting." Fortunately, it grew on him once he added rice on his plate. Bless his heart, the man is an all-time rice lover: he loves rice more than any Chinese person I know. Anyway, the curry chicken was delicious, even though I pretty much changed the entire original recipe.

Pineapple Curry Chicken (adapted from Taste of Home)

half of a fresh pineapple, chopped to chunks
3 pieces of skinless boneless chicken breast, cut into 1-inch cubes
2 medium-sized carrots, minced
1 medium-sized onion or half of a big one, minced
half of a red bell pepper, minced
half a clove of garlic, minced
curry powder

Cook the chicken breat in canola oil (I know butter is better, but we are trying to be healthier here.) Add onions, red bell pepper, carrots and garlic. When chicken is 80% cooked, put everything in a medium-sized pot and add pineapple. Add water till it barely covers the food and as much curry powder as you like (it really depends on how much you are into curry, then again, I don't like to measure, go with your heart!) Season with basil, chili powder, salt and pepper. Cook over low-medium heat for 10 minutes, add 2 tbsps of milk and keep cooking over low heat until the liquid is almost gone, then add 1 tbsp of corn starch to absorb the rest of the liquid.

Serve for 2 over rice (according to Chris), with potato salad (according to me)

Despite his initial reaction to the pineapple, Chris commented that he felt he was in an Indian restaurant and just ordered this dish. Now that, brought a grin to my face.

Okay I have an interesting insight on potato salad. In China, I always thought potato salad was imported and it's made with mashed potatoes: something I thought was common in western dishes until my American boyfriend said it's totally weird. So, this time I made a potato salad the American style.

Rosanne Cash's Potato Salad (adapted from If You Give a Girl a Cookie)
5 or 6 small red-skinned potatoes, boiled whole and cut in half or quaters
2 eggs, hard boiled, peeld and chopped
4 or 5 stalks of celery, chopped
1 half of red onion (Brittany omitted this part, I didn't but feel like I should have, the onion is a little strong, but if you like strong-taste onion, then go ahead use it!)
3 scoops of mayonnaise
2 tbsps of yellow mustard (The original recipe asks for Dijon mustard, sadly I didn't have any in the house, I think yellow worked out just fine if you don't want to buy something that you'll probably only use for one dish at one time.)
Mix everything together and you have a salad! 

The eggs are not mixed in the picture because I had a special request from my dear love who doesn't like egg white and prefers to be able to pick it out. Of course, once he saw the salad, he said with a potato salad I could have mixed it in he wouldn't have noticed. Oh well, it is what it is now. . . picky, picky, picky.

Sorry this seems to go on forever, I'm still farely new at blogging: I have to learn to keep my posts relatively short.

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