Life with ba noi is good.
She is a kind-hearted grandmother who enjoys growing orchids and pedaling away on her miniature stationary bicycle, among many other things. She also loves to watch Korean soap operas (dubbed in Vietnamese). Occasionally, I sit with her to see if I can understand the obscenely cheesy story lines.
In this shot, the leading lady is forced to meet an awful suitor (whom her parents adore) when she is actually dating/in love with a really goofy guy her family doesn't know about. At least, I think that is what was happening.
Ba noi feeds us a LOT of delicious, authentic, Vietnamese food. Predictably, the meals all involve a large portion of rice which has been cooked to perfection (a far cry from the requisite boiling over, under/over cookedness and general mess which occurs every time I do it at camp).
Maybe it has something to do with the exacting proportions she uses. Check out her gigantic rice dispenser! There's enough rice in there to feed an army!
Yesterday I asked if she would teach me the next time she cooked. Today, she obliged.
"Kata!" she yelled (she calls me Kata) as she poked her head out of the kitchen, and motioned with her hand, her fingers flapping up and down like a little kid learning to say "bye bye". I smiled, confused, and she did it again, with a glint in her eye. I quickly realized gesture meant "come here." So, I scurried to the kitchen, and to my delight she explained, step by step, how to make her curried chicken.
Though we didn't speak the same language, we were still able to communicate, and as a result, I now have her recipe for this:
It has secretly been my lifelong dream to learn to cook from an elderly Asian woman, so I can now check one thing off of my life list! Thank you ba noi!
Ba noi's Curried Chicken Recipe
1 kilo of chicken, cut into pieces
some potatoes, peeled, halved, and cooked
1 head of garlic (cloves peeled)
2 hot peppers
2 inches ginger root
2 tsp curry paste
1 tsp curry powder
3 tbs sugar
1 tsp pepper
2 tbs fish sauce
salt to taste (approximately 1 Tbs)
1 cup water
1.5 cups milk
In a food processor, blend the garlic, hot peppers, and ginger. Cut up the chicken, and coat the pieces in this blended mixture. Marinate overnight in the fridge. The next day, dip the chicken pieces in flour and then fry them in oil. Put chicken in a pot along with potatoes, curry paste, curry powder, sugar, pepper, fish sauce, and salt. Cook the chicken. Add one cup of water, then add 1.5 cups milk.
I hope I got this right, but it'll be awhile before I can try it!