Stir-Fried Rice by Chef Sarah Atieno, H&S Chef Of The Month
H&S Chef Of The Month
Chef Sarah Atieno
Interview With H&S Magazine
Who Is Sarah Atieno?
I am a stay at home twenty-six-year-old mother to one, an operations assistant, writer, and chef. There aren’t many words to describe me but a passionate foodie, who walks and speaks the language of food does it.
Type Of Cuisine?
I’d say this is difficult for me as I love a touch of everything, but If I was made to choose I’d say continental with a twist of African. I am all over the place when it comes to food, I love the amazingly different flavours, textures and traditional methods of preparing meals, so choosing a speciality for me, is one difficult task.
What Inspired You To Become A Chef?
Growing up as a first child, I was tasked with the responsibility of helping my mother around, more especially in the kitchen. When she made chapatis, I’d be adding oil to the pan and flipping them to the other side; you should have seen the joy on my face when everyone appreciated the crispiness and taste; the satisfaction that came from what cooked was unexplainable.
Years later, I’d cook chapatis and sell them to my lectures at Kenyatta University, more especially to one Dr. Alice Ondigi, who would pay me handsomely to make them in bulk. The fact that I loved great food but could not sometimes afford it during my days in campus, pushed me into trying to replicate the same at home, and that’s how I found myself with the title chef.
What Is The Biggest Challenge You Have Faced In The Culinary Industry?
My biggest challenge so far has been getting my hands on quality ingredients. One quality ingredient in a meal can be a big game changer, some are not locally available either. I’ve had to import pure vanilla pods to make my own vanilla extract, getting quality raw ingredients has proven to be a challenge for me. I try to shop for spices and any ingredient I may need back home when I travel to countries/places that have them in plenty.
What’s Your Biggest Achievement In The Culinary Industry?
My biggest achievement in the culinary industry, is when I went solo in the beginning of this year to become a private chef. I currently run my business Sa’Gene for Foods, a cloud kitchen offering state-of-the-art meals and desserts that cover a wide range of clientele’s needs. The versatility of running my business has helped me achieve a long term dream of mine, which is to be there for my daughter when she wakes up, leaves and comes back from school. I am now able to spend some quality time with her, unlike before when I’d leave way too early and come home late when she was already asleep. It gives me immense joy and pride watching my six-year-old daughter take interest in what I do, she’s become my little marketer
especially at her school, where I now bake pastries for students’ birthdays and school functions held.
When It comes To Cooking, What Is More Important To You, The Technique, The Ingredients Or The Creativity?
A great meal is a combination of the three, some ingredients can not be compromised if a desired flavour and texture is to be acquired, this brings in the technique factor then creativity. So for me, it is the perfect balance of all three to achieve the target results.
Recipe Of The Week: Stir-Fried Rice
The Stir-Fried Rice
• 2 tbsp vegetable oil
• 2 tbsp dark soy sauce
• 1 tbsp oyster sauce
• 1 tsp sesame oil
• 1 white onion (diced)
• Salt & pepper to taste
• 3 cups rice (1 day old left over rice is preferred)
• 2 cups steamed broccoli & carrots mix (any vegetables of your choice, can be used)
• 100g button mushrooms (sliced into halves)
• 2 garlic cloves (minced)
• 250g beef sirloin (cut into thin, long stripes)
• 60g cashew nuts, slightly toasted (optional)
• 1 green onion (finely chopped) for garnish
Preparation: The Stir-Fried Rice
Over medium heat, add 1 tsp of vegetable oil to a wok big, enough to hold everything, and place the button mushrooms
sliced side facing down. Brown the mushrooms on both sides, until all the water evaporates and mushrooms are cooked through. Remove from fire and set aside in a bowl. Using the same wok, add the remaining oil (sesame and 1 Tbsp
vegetable oil). Add the beef and cook until browned and cooked through. Remove and set aside in the bowl, with the mushrooms. Add the white onion, and sauté for 1 minute before adding the other vegetables & cook this for 3 minutes, then add in garlic and sauté for 1 minute till fragrant. Season with salt and pepper. Next, add the rice into the vegetable mixture and cook this for 5 minutes while tossing the wok. Stir in the mushrooms and beef, then add cashew nuts if using any. Lastly, add soy sauce and oyster sauce, toss this for another 2 minutes until just combined & adjust seasoning.
Serve into a bowl or plate and sprinkle freshly chopped green onions, on top and enjoy!