What's the secret to making fried rice taste like the ones you buy from takeaway shops and Chinese restaurants? M. Johnston
I find that serving food in those Seinfeld cardboard takeaway containers make the fried rice, dumplings and noodles I cook for kids' parties make the food taste so much more store-bought. That and a healthy dose of MSG, one of the ingredients "Mick", the Cantonese cook in the local Chinese takeaway, would always sprinkle into his dishes. Chinese restaurants have massive wok burners that get the wok super-hot, so at home you need to make sure your wok is searing hot before you start cooking, and your ingredients are getting enough contact with the steel to create the complex charry aroma the Chinese call "wok hei" (the breath of the wok). Use a little sesame oil towards the end of cooking for flavour and most importantly, use rice that has been cooked the day before and refrigerated. This will ensure it is dry rather than gluggy and the grains are separate.
Can one buy honey from native bees? B. Murdoch
I was staying with a friend near Darwin last year. We were sitting on her veranda and she said she was feeling poorly. At that moment a strange buzzing sound came from an old speaker sitting out on the deck. It was odd because the speaker wasn't connected to a power source. "That will be the bees," my friend said. I carefully unscrewed the speaker to find a hive of small native bees had made their home behind the woofer. My friend took a small spoon and carefully scooped out about a thimble full. She offered me a taste. It was one of the most delicious things I have ever tasted. My friend had spent time in Indigenous communities where the honey was used a medicine. She ate the honey and a smile spread across her face. In minutes her colour had changed and within 15 minutes she was up and about. While not everyone has an old speaker full of native bees hanging about, there is a beekeeper in northern NSW who sells sugarbag honey from stingless Australian native bees. Visit The Australian Native Bee Company at tanbc.com.au. If you live in warmer climes, you could consider setting up your own hive by visiting sugarbag.net.
The plastic versus wooden chopping board conversation continues, with J. McLean saying that plastic chopping boards blunt knives. Meanwhile G. Skowronski sent in a paper from Germany's Fulda University of Applied Sciences in which two scientists reported that plastic boards and boards made from solid maple proved to be equal when it came to harbouring bacteria. Last week I mentioned that hot cross buns were made to celebrate the resurrection of Christ. I would like to apologise to the Christians who emailed claiming they were offended. Hot cross buns are made to commemorate the crucifixion of Christ. I would also like to apologise to the pagan I offended, who said hot cross buns were originally baked in honour of Eostre, the goddess that pre-Christian Anglo-Saxons worshipped in spring.
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