“Ginger fried rice,” I muttered to myself. It was one of those moments when everything seemed bleak and grey. I was pushing my cart in the middle of the supermarket when I mumbled those words to myself. My heart was feeling a bit empty that day, drained by the week’s stress. I needed something warm, something comforting, something soothing.
I needed ginger fried rice.
So I pushed my cart to the produce section and got a bunch of leeks, a bunch of cilantro, one huge white onion, a big chunk of ginger, which was the equivalent of 4 tablespoons when minced, and a can of shiitake mushrooms. I piled the ingredients in my cart, in addition to the usual things I buy — baby wipes, bread, milk, other houeshold staples.
There was no written recipe to be followed. I was measuring ingredients by comfort. I love leeks — slowly braised, buttered, fried or steamed… these chunky cousins of the onion have a special place in my heart. Cilantro? I’m irrevocably in love with it and can’t get enough of it. Ginger soothes me dearly. Onions keep me in check. Mushrooms add substance without the heaviness of meat.
When I was settled at home, I began to cook.
Leeks were chopped. Onions sliced. Ginger minced and put into a bowl. Shiitake mushrooms washed and drained, then chopped into quarters. Cilantro leaves were kept and roughly chopped. Soy sauce was gently poured into a cup. A bowl of cooked brown rice was taken out from the ref. I sliced and chopped and diced and minced to the rhythm of the story in my head, to the quiet melody I was humming to keep me centered, grounded, anchored.
I took out the pan and heated some oil. Then I let the sizzling begin.
Onions always go first. (It’s when they’re wilted and transparent that they become sweeter.) The leeks gently followed, their chunky white-green stalks mingling with the onions. When they were well acquainted, the mushrooms joined the dance. Soon the ginger followed, and everything was changing. Hard edges were softening, a tired heart was being comforted. There, there, the sizzling dish seemed to sing.
It was time for brown rice. The bowl was poured into the pan. I mixed and I stirred and I flipped and I swirled all the flavors and sounds till the rice was coated. And oh, the soy sauce! I poured it in, followed by cilantro, while I mixed and I stirred and I flipped and I swirled. Then the salt and the pepper came in for the seasoning.
As I poured ginger fried rice into my bowl, I felt my spirits lifting. I took a spoonful and let the comforting heat of the dish settle in my mouth. With each spoonful I savoured, I felt the bleak and grey day fading away. There, there.
“Ginger fried rice,” I whispered to myself. It was a sacred moment of warmth, of comforting, of soothing — a dish led by the senses, navigated by the heart.