Chinese newcomer tempts meat-loving boyfriend with cauliflower dish
Part 2 of CBC Ottawa's series, What I Bring to the Table
Lacey Sheng measures out the rice and water, then gently pours both into the cooker. Her boyfriend, Yoon Shin, gives her a sour look.
"Although we are both Asian, there are differences in the way we approach food," Sheng said.
Notably, Sheng, who came to Ottawa from southern China to attend university, prefers white rice with her stir-fry, while Shin, who is Canadian with South Korean roots, prefers a blend of white and brown grains.
He also dislikes vegetables.
"I always tell her, tigers don't eat vegetables. Right? Exactly," Shin joked.
Sheng and Shin met four years ago in Ottawa. Food has always been common ground, though Sheng focuses more on healthy dishes and recipes she knows from home, while Shin admits to having little knowledge of the vast variety of Asian foods.
"This is going to make me sound really North American, but my go-to Chinese food was always General Tso chicken," Shin said. "That's not really Chinese food."
To set her boyfriend on the right path, Sheng has chosen a vegetable-heavy meal made with cauliflower, which is readily accessible in Western grocery stores and was also common back home. It's a recipe Sheng learned from her grandmother, an excellent chef.
"Someone once told me your family, friends and food are the three most important things in your life," Sheng says.
Shin was up for the challenge.
"I've been watching a lot of Master Chef, so I am ready," he joked.
Sheng and Shin finely chop the pork belly, hot red and green peppers, garlic and cauliflower, then add them to the pan.
The rice cooker plays a song to announce it's ready, and the two pack the fragrant rice into small bowls. The pork and cauliflower is heaped onto a plate to share.
"I like it. It's got flavour and is well-seasoned," Shin said, though he added it may not be good enough for the next season of Master Chef.
"We gotta up our game," he vowed.