When needs must, such as when suck in a typhoon or in the mountains, there is something microwaveable and edible and vegetarian in 7-Eleven. When needs must. Look in the freezers for a square plastic box with a yellow-and-blue label, titled 素三杯炒飯 (su sanbei chaofan; “vegetarian three cups fried rice”), made by Guiguan (桂冠) and costing NT$56 (ca. US$2). It is cheaper in supermarkets, but if there are supermarkets open, you probably don’t need to eat processed food.
Sanbei (“three cups”) is a classic Chinese cooking method, in which ingredients are slow-cooked in a sauce composed of one cup of soy sauce, one cup of sesame oil, and one cup of rice wine (sherry is usually suggested for Westerners without access to an Asian victualer). Since 素, usually translated as “vegetarian” really means something like “accords to Buddhist dietary rules”, the wine is omitted from this product.
Otherwise, the roll-call of ingredients sounds impressive: rice, brown rice, purple sticky rice, wheat, oats, buckwheat, tofu "wheels" (豆輪丁), vegetarian ham, mushroom, soy sauce, canola oil, basil, sesame oil and chili.
It is probably the presence of the basil and sesame oil that make this product worthy of an NOMM review, or at least of eating when there is ONLY 7-Eleven available.
On the downside, while the words 無防腐劑 (“no preservatives”) offer some comfort, its 575 calories (slightly hidden in the 210 calories per 100g formula) and 8.2 percent fat are not encouraging.
But, when needs must ....
Text and photos © Jiyue Publications 2011