‘Fried Rice Prepared In Wok Tastes Better’
Mrs. Tumi Olubode is a pastor with the Redeemed Christian Church of God, Jesus Capital Parish, Oluyole Estate, Ibadan and the proprietress of Principles School, Oluyole Estate, Ibadan. In this interview with BLESSING EKUM, she reminisces on her culinary exposures as a child and shares the secret behind her signature fried rice.
Where did you grow up?
I left Nigeria when I was six months old and was brought up in the United Kingdom. I came back for my Youth service when I was 24 years and went back for a while before I finally came back.
What dishes did you enjoy as a child?
I had more of Nigerian dishes, though we also had European dishes. We had eba, amala, brown rice, wheat and beans. However, on Saturdays, we had continental dishes.
Were there meals you didn't enjoy taking?
As a child, I never liked beans. We had a timetable and we use to have beans on Friday nights. So, that made me not to like Friday nights. I also didn't like pop corn, peanuts and toffee. Though I liked chocolates; I still do.
What about derivatives from beans?
I grew up eating moin moin, but it wasn't wrapped with leaves because that was not available. I never liked akara. But now, if I have to eat beans, I add corn to it. I also make crayfish stew and serve with it.
Did you start cooking at an early age?
Though I was brought up in England, I was brought up by core Nigerian parents. At the age of seven, I was able to cut okra and I was good at that. At age 16, I was doing the cooking for the whole family, which was a pretty large family. With time, I was able to cook in large quantities. I would say I was groomed into cooking.
Where is your husband from?
My husband is from Ibadan, Oyo State.
Ibadan indigenes are known for their love for amala. How do you cope with this?
Well, God has blessed me with a husband that is not too particular about amala. He is more of a rice person. He prefers rice, dodo and efo with fish. He also likes pounded yam but when I have to prepare it, I make use of the processed yam flour.
What was your experience like the first time you prepared amala?
When I was 18, my father's friend, who was a chief, just came in from Nigeria and of all the meals, he asked for amala. I thought I could attempt preparing it, but it came out horrible with lumps. I tried a second time and it didn't still come out right. My father had to apologize on my behalf. But since then, I practiced and now I can make it very well.
Can you describe your food routine?
I am not really a food person and because of my weight, I tend to watch what I eat. For instance, I have had just yoghurt and water this morning and that would hold me until dinner. I hardly have lunch.
Does that sustain you for the day?
I don't know how it has been working but it just works that way for me. Most times, I have yoghurt in the mornings and when that is not available, I take malt diluted in water. When I have to take soft drinks, I also dilute it in water. I eat quite heavily in the evenings though.
What do you take for supper?
I may take eba and efo, pounded yam, rice.
Do you have a favourite dish?
I love rice in any variety.
Does your family have a special occasion meal?
That would be fried rice but it is more of the Chinese method of cooking fried rice. I prepare it in a wok, so, it turns out really fried instead of the way it is usually prepared in Nigeria. I serve that with salad. My family loves it and I get complements whenever I make it for others. Interestingly, nobody taught me how to prepare it; I taught myself. But it took a lot of practise to get to this point.
Is there any difference in the taste of fried rice prepared with a wok and that prepared with the conventional pot?
You may not get the same result if you use any other pot because a wok is narrower at the bottom and wider at the top so it makes the stirring easier. It allows the ingredients penetrate more, so, I think it tastes better.
Can you share the ingredients needed for the preparation of Chinese fried rice?
You would need rice, onions, green pepper, vegetable oil, tatase, garlic, thyme, curry, cubed seasoning, salt, eggs, chicken, crayfish, shrimps, corn, carrot, peas, and chopped sausage.
How is it prepared?
Pour in some vegetable oil in the wok; add the shredded onions, green pepper, tatase, garlic, thyme, curry, cubed seasoning, salt and about two cracked eggs. Allow to cook for a while. Then I add the parboiled rice, which should not be very soft. Stir and then add the chicken, crayfish, shrimps, corn, carrot, peas, and chopped sausage. It should be well fried but not burnt. Serve with salad.