Rachel and Nick are an ordinary (if living comfortably in New York City is ever normal) couple. Two years into their relationship, never having shared anything about his family, Nick invited Rachel to attend his best friend’s wedding and spend the summer in Singapore, which would, of course involve meeting his family- who are: CRAZY RICH ASIANS. This is another version of the “haves and the have-nots;” about who we are better than and who we suppress without ever really examining what makes a person worthwhile. Your clothes are better than mine. Does that make you better than me in any meaningful way?
Nick and Rachel are equally good people, but Nick’s family, believing that wealth must insulate them from ordinary people, throws up a roadblock to sabotage their relationship. We have all aspired to wealth at some point in our lives. As Tevye said in Fiddler on the Roof, “Would it spoil some vast eternal plan if I were wealthy man?”
It’s a fun, funny, and entertaining book. The movie has just opened and I can’t wait to see it.
THE BEAUTY: The pictures of Singapore are stunning. This one from CNN.com shows the Marina Bay Sands luxury hotel in the background. The spaceship-like structure on top connecting the three buildings is the Skypark, with an infinity pool, garden walk, and restaurants 57 stories above street level. In the foreground is the Esplanade-Theater of the Bay along the waterfront.
THE FOOD: According to this book, every Singaporean has an opinion about where to get the best satay, and differences of opinion can lead to heated debates. As Rachel explained to her mother, “Let them be, Mom. Let them be. This is just how they all are.”
1 large red onion, chopped
2 large garlic cloves, chopped
3 stalks lemon grass, chopped
1 T peanut oil
1 T ground turmeric
1½ tsp brown sugar
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground ginger
salt and black pepper to taste
1 lb skinless, boneless chicken breast halves – pounded thin
12 wooden or bamboo skewers
In a large nonreactive bowl, stir together the onion, garlic, lemon grass, soy sauce, peanut oil, turmeric, brown sugar, cumin, ginger, salt, and pepper. Reserve about 2 tablespoons of marinade in a small bowl, and refrigerate until cooking time. Mix the chicken breasts into the remaining marinade, stir to coat well, and marinate in refrigerator overnight.
About 30 minutes before serving, soak the skewers in water. Preheat an outdoor grill for high heat, and lightly oil the grate, or cook on a stovetop griddle, getting the griddle very hot before spraying with cooking spray.
Remove the chicken breasts from the bowl, and discard the used marinade. Cut each chicken breast on the diagonal into 6 long strips, and thread a chicken strip onto one of the soaked skewers. Grill the skewers on the grill, turning frequently and basting with the reserved marinade, until the chicken is cooked through with brown, crispy edges, 5 to 8 minutes per skewer. On the stovetop, turn the heat down to medium-low when you put the skewers on the griddle, cooking low and slow until the chicken is cooked through, but not overcooked, 5-8 minutes per skewer.
The marinade was delicious, not too spicy. Serve with your favorite dipping sauce, soy sauce or Sriracha. (When it rains, we grill inside.) Because I’d never made satay before, this was a fun one for me. I don’t think I pounded the chicken enough, so be careful to pound your chicken evenly and thinly.