Fried "rice" quinoa with sweet corn, pea shoots and chicken balls

We end work pretty late. On most days, I will get home half past ten. It's rare if he's home earlier than I. I don't get to see him till close to midnight. This also means that we seldom dine together as a couple. Not for lunch, neither is dinner. On our off day, I like to cook something special, extravagant sometimes, elaborate mostly. Those dinners became our little celebration of our togetherness. Savoring our dinner date night over wine and maybe a bottle of champagne. Our weekdays are a little different.
He came home last night finding me sizzling the onions and garlic. The whole kitchen was perfumed with a promise of a good meal. It's almost midnight and a very humid night. I got on to the kitchen straight from work. My mascara all smudged from my dripping sweat. I looked hideous but he didn't seem to notice at all and popped over for a peck on the lips and said "You really do like to cook, don't you?". I offered my glass of wine and told him it's our lunchbox for tomorrow.
 Cooking our lunchbox had became a natural for us now. It somehow evolved into a full fledged five day routine. We don't demand who's cooking it. Sometimes I cook, sometimes he took over the stove. Other times we collaborate and be each other assistant. Cooking a meal is one of the most personal and intimate things you can do for someone. You're literally providing plated nourishment made with your own hands and creativity. There's nothing more special than that. The gift of love and care.

Our meals apart are the essential bond that connects us together throughout the day. When we are behind that illuminated screen or when the day only allows a little moment to yourself in the tiny office pantry. There's always something magical about that homemade lunchbox. In it, whatever it is, the little lunchbox encourages us to relax. For a moment, we felt each other presence, like an assuring hug that you are well cared for.

Two weeks ago: Thai quinoa salad with grilled squid and mangoes
1 year ago: How to make great healthy packed lunch for work
2 years ago: Power Chicken Salad

To cook quinoa
1 cup quinoa
2 cups water
1/4 teaspoon salt

Quinoa have  a bitter taste if you do not rinse it. To get rid of the bitter taste, place the quinoa in a fine-mesh strainer, and rinse thoroughly with cool water. Rub and swish the quinoa with your hand while rinsing, and rinse for at least 2 minutes under the running water. Drain.

To make fluffy quinoa, toast quinoa in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Cook, stirring, for about 1 minute, letting the water evaporate. Add liquid and bring to a boil. Stir in the liquid and the salt and bring to a rolling boil. Lower heat and cook covered for 15 minutes. Turn heat down to the lowest setting. Cover and cook for 15 minutes.

Let stand covered for 5 minutes. After 15 minutes, turn off the heat and remove the pot from the burner. Let stand for 5 minutes, covered. After 5 minutes, remove the lid, fluff the quinoa gently with a fork, and set aside until cooled, This can be made a day before.

You can prep the chopping and mincing of chicken ball and fried rice together

Chicken ball
400g minced chicken breast
1 small onion, chopped
3 garlic clove, minced
1 small knob ginger, finely minced
Handful spring onion, chopped. (about half cup)
Handful cilantro, chopped
1 tablespoon oyster sauce
1 tablespoon light soy sauce
1 teaspoon sugar
1 tablespoon ketchup
1 tablespoon mirin or Chinese wine
½ teaspoon white ground pepper
1 tablespoon corn starch
1 egg
Canola oil for pan frying

Mix everything together and roll into balls with wet palms (make rolling easier). Pan fry until cook and golden brown on all sides. Set aside

Quinoa fried "rice" with sweet corn and pea shoots
1 medium onion, chopped
4-5 garlic clove, minced
2-3 chilies, clopped
Handful spring onion, chopped. (about half cup)
2 eggs, lightly beaten
Light soy sauce to taste, about 2 tablespoon to taste
1 tablespoon sesame oil
½ teaspoon grounded white pepper
1 cup frozen baby sweet corn, thawed
Handful Pea shoots, optional. (I just so happen to have some in the fridge)
2-3 tablespoon canola oil.

Chop chillies and cilantro

Make sure you have the mis-en-place ready and close by. This is gonna be fast. Put the wok on hight heat, add the oil and sauté the onion, garlic and chillies until fragrant but not burnt. Quickly toss in the cooked quinoa and sweet corn, stir it about for a few seconds and add the soy sauce, sesame oil and pepper. Have a quick taste and add more sauce if required. Push the quinoa to a side. Add another tablespoon and add the beaten egg, swirling them around until the eggs are half cooked. Stir everything together. Add the pea shoots and cook until wilted.  Dish out on a large plate and top with chicken balls. Garnish with chopped chillies and cilantro.

Pack into lunch boxes and enjoy next day. It's great warm or cold.

-till next post, ss. 

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