For months I’ve been working on two books for children, one on rice and the other on coconuts. While writing the books was a solitary pursuit, doing the research was the opposite; it involved traveling, gathering data and meeting new people. One balances the other, I guess.
Even if it’s already common knowledge, this project made me realize, more than ever, how important these two agricultural products are in our economic, social and nutritional lives. Three billion people around the world eat rice daily, for instance.
Coconuts, on the other hand, outnumber the burgeoning population of the Philippines. We may have 90 million Filipinos, but we also have 300 million coconut trees. So while some countries may boast of having more sheep than people, we can likewise brag that in our country, we have more coconut trees than we have people.
In both the coconut and rice books, I’ve included simple recipes that even children can do. One of them is for Javanese rice. This rice dish is best known as an accompaniment to barbecued pork and chicken, especially the ones served in Aristocrat Restaurant. It’s doubtful that Javanese rice really exists in Java but nonetheless this dish is delicious and much liked by children.
Here’s my recipe for Javanese rice, as featured in “The Rice Book for Kids.”
(“The Rice Book for Kids” and “The Coconut Book for Kids” will be launched today at 5:30 p.m. at Powerbooks, Greenbelt 4, Makati. The books are available at National Book Store, PowerBooks and Bestsellers.)
3 tbsp cooking oil, divided
2 eggs, beaten
1 onion, minced
2 cloves, garlic, minced
1 red bell pepper, minced
4 c cooked white rice (preferably day-old rice)
Salt and pepper
3 tbsp tomato ketchup
In a skillet, heat one tbsp of the oil. Add the beaten eggs and cook, stirring with a turner or heat-proof spatula until eggs are of scrambled consistency. Transfer to a plate then cut into strips. Set aside.
In the same skillet, heat remaining oil and sauté onion about one to two minutes. Add garlic and red bell pepper and sauté for another one to two minutes. Stir in the rice and season with salt and pepper. Stir-cook until rice grains separate and turn slightly brown. Pour in tomato ketchup and stir rice until evenly red in color. Mix in strips of scrambled eggs. Serve warm.
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If desired, you can add some coriander leaves to the rice after you’ve added the ketchup. Stir until evenly blended.
Serve the rice with barbecued pork and chicken or with grilled squid and prawns.
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