As I walked into my favorite Asian Wonderland, Paris Store, a dizzying sense of calm and euphoria came upon me. I felt so sure of myself, having perused the aisles plenty of times, having helped newcomers a few times with unfamiliar products, and having searched long and hard for specific items with the reward of actually finding them.
This time I had my list of regular items and a few extras I was hoping to discover.
I went there for egg roll papers for my share of the New Year's Eve annual potluck. That was my regular item. The item I was hoping to discover was gochugaru, a Korean chile powder or paste (I should have done my homework on that one before going on that journey) for a kimchi project that's been on my mind for a while, but which I unfortunately didn't find, or which I may have found, but didn't know that I was holding the researched product in my hands.
It's true. Every time I've gone to that place, it's either for extra familiar items such as lentils or Indian products.. for which I need absolutely no help, or for real Chinese items, which are becoming more familiar and I can more or less work out the product by reading the English translated labels.. not the French. I don't know who's in charge of translating Chinese food labels into French, but they seem to think that pickled mustard greens or turnip greens are "Chou." I may be strange, but even if they don't use mustard or turnip greens in this country, they can at least imagine a literal translation such as "Verts de Moutarde" or "Verts de Navet" but not Cabbage!
Ok, that aside, you have to obviously have done your homework and if possible looked at photos of the item you are looking for, because you can't really count on getting any valuable information from the people who work there. I'm not saying they're bad at their job, but you have probably about a 20% chance of targeting the right ethnicity of the person vs product you are searching. Their French is ok, but since they don't really think of their products with their crappy French label translations, you'd better know how to pronounce it in Mandarin/Cantonese/Vietnamese/Korean/Thai. And even then, you're not sure that particular person speaks the language you have phonetically memorized the product name in.. or that you are pronouncing it correctly. No, no.. you're always on your own if you need product help.. or if you find someone like me shopping there and I happen to have already sourced the product. Sometimes I giggle to myself when I spot first timers and hand around to see if I can be of any use to them.
I do love that place very much. It's not a place I go to often, but it feels like it's so much a part of me that I have part of my brain stuck there sometimes. I even have some delicious memories there..
So after proudly finding my kimchi and pickled mustard greens and unfortunately not finding my gochugaru, I went to the freezer section to find my egg roll papers.. quite sure of myself since I knew exactly which freezer they are kept in and which brand I wanted.
As my euphoria wore off, I opened the targeted freezer... my jaw dropped and my heart sank. Completely empty. With everything I mentioned above, there was no way I could ask one of the workers if they had any egg roll wrappers which they hadn't stocked yet because I can work out the "Cha Gio" part but the rest would have been sort of a hit or miss and I would have ended up with some Nuac Nam or Sriracha instead of the wrappers. I frantically toured all the freezers just to make sure they hadn't changed spots.. and nothing. There were a few freezers with sealed cardboard boxes inside and a big written sign saying "Do not open the boxes," but that's it.
There went my NYE offering. I had finally found something that everyone liked, and now I had to change my plans. It rarely happens that I make something everyone likes. The picky eaters in my crowd are very hard to please.. and this time, they actually unanimously requested my egg rolls.
A part of me was secretly happy because it meant I'd probably come back again this week, and it's always a pleasure to peruse those aisles as if I own the place, but even then, I wasn't certain to find my egg roll wrappers.
A quick look left, then right (besides, I couldn't tell the people that worked there apart from the customers), and I tore open the first cardboard box in the freezer specifically labeled "Do not open." At that moment, I may not have felt so sure of myself at first, but a big rush of adrenaline quickly put me in my rebel state.. and when I'm in my rebel state, nothing can stop me. NOTHING!
People started looking at me and crowding to see what was in the secret boxes, but I no longer cared, I would state my cause, proudly, especially because the very first box I opened contained the prized egg roll papers I came so far to retrieve.
People all started digging into that box.. because apparently, they were also wandering around aimlessly hoping those egg roll papers would just appear (or someone working there would get around to stocking the empty freezers).
Obviously, EVERYONE is making egg rolls for the holidays.
It's the only logical thing to do.. isn't it?
This post is supposed to be about my Singapore Mei Fun with Duck. Yes, I know, I'm getting to that.
I knew I was having company over and I still had a bit of roasted duck leftover from Christmas Eve. I was going to make a, Hachis Parmentier with duck instead of ground beef and a purée of carrots and sweet potatoes instead of regular mashed potatoes. That idea was clear as day in my head since the morning.. but after my Paris Store fiasco, I was swept up with Asian Persuasion. My guest of honor is a fan of rice vermicelli noodles and anything Asian I seem to make, so some Mei Fun with Duck was the only way to go, and to make the best use of the last of my duck meat. I can do that French thing another time... or I'll probably end up eating it somewhere that exists already.
This.. is purely a "me" recipe.. meaning it corresponds to my mood and the elements surrounding my day more than any baked casserole could.
Plus, I wanted to try out my ShaoXing wine since I finally figured out what the bottle looked like!
This is "Singapore" style because of the turmeric. The Chinese version of this is the same but without the turmeric.
200g dried rice vermicelli, soaked in warm water 1 hour and drained
200g roasted duck meat, cut into bite sized pieces
2 Tbsp oil
2 handfuls sliced shitake mushrooms, soaked and drained
1 onion, sliced into moons
3 carrots, peeled and grated into matchsticks
1 cup shredded red cabbage
1 green moroccan chile (or jalapeño), seeded and sliced
2 scallions, white parts sliced lengthwise, green parts chopped finely
2 eggs, beaten
2 garlic cloves, grated
1 inch ginger, grated
1 tsp turmeric (or heavily turmeric'd curry powder such as madras)
1 Tbsp ShaoXing wine
1/2 Tbsp light soy sauce
1 Tbsp dark soy sauce
1 Tbsp black vinegar
1 Tbsp sesame oil
1 Tbsp oyster sauce
1 Tbsp sesame seeds
1 tsp ginger-garlic paste
green parts of scallion
Sriracha sauce (optional)
1. Prep all your ingredients so that they are ready for when you need to throw it in the hot hot wok. For the duck meat, heat 1 Tbsp of the oil in a wok and add the cooked duck meat. Cook until browned, then set aside. In the same wok, add the beaten eggs, cook, scramble, then set aside.
2. Start the stir-fry. Place the remaining oil in the wok. Add the carrots, chile, and onion. Cook until the onion is translucent, then push everything to the side without overcrowding and add in the cabbage and mushrooms. If you think your wok is too small, do this in batches.
3. Add in the garlic, ginger, and turmeric. Stir fry for 30 seconds.
4. Add in the browned duck meat, white parts of the scallions, and drained vermicelli. Again, make sure not to overcrowd the work or everything will steam instead of stir-fry. Cook for another minute.
5. Add in the stir-fry sauce and cook for 2-3 minutes, making sure the heat is high and the sauce gets evenly distributed.
Serve garnished with the green parts of the scallion, a thai chile, and some Sriracha sauce in case you need some more heat.
The perfect ending to my adventure-day..