The Creole bol renversé translates (unsurprisingly) as “upside-down bowl”. It’s a theatrical Sino-Mauritian dish that is found on Chinese restaurant menus and in cafés dotted across the island. The surprise is in the unveiling of the perfect dome of rice, topped with chicken and vegetables in a soy and oyster sauce. It is then crowned with a fried egg, which I take great pleasure in piercing so the golden yolk trickles down the sides.
Sunny-Side-Up Egg, Chicken & Pak Choi Rice Bowl
Bol Renversé, Mauritius
Prep: 20 minutes, plus 30 minutes soaking
Cook: 15 minutes
250g basmati rice
2 tbsp vegetable oil
1 onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2.5cm piece of fresh root ginger, peeled and finely chopped
1 carrot, cut into thin matchsticks
125g shiitake mushrooms, sliced
130g baby corn, chopped
300g chicken breast, cut into strips, then halved
200g pak choi, trimmed, stalks cut diagonally into thin slices, leaves torn
2 tbsp light soy sauce
1 tbsp oyster sauce
1 tsp fish sauce
1 tsp cornflour, mixed with 150ml water
1 tbsp olive oil
3 tbsp finely chopped chives
Firstly, soak the rice for 30 minutes in cold water (or wash a few times until the water runs clear). Drain well. Cook your basmati rice according to the packet instructions.
Place all your prepared vegetables and the chicken on a large plate, so everything is ready to add to the wok.
Place a large wok over a high heat and add the vegetable oil. Once the oil is hot, add in your onion, garlic and ginger and, using a metal spoon or spatula, keep stirring the ingredients in the pan to avoid burning. Fry for 1-2 minutes.
Tip in the carrot, mushrooms, corn and chicken strips, give that all a good mix together and cook for 2 minutes while stirring. Next goes in the pak choi, which will wilt down eventually. I use all of it, even the white harder ends, which retain a nice crunch when cooked.
Create the base of the sauce by adding the soy, oyster and fish sauces into the wok and give them a good stir. Pour in the cornflour water mixture – this will thicken it all up and result in a glossy, light brown liquid.
Turn the heat down to a medium simmer, cover and gently cook for 10 minutes until the chicken is cooked throughout and the corn and carrots are softened, but still retain a slight crunch. Set aside.
In the meantime, fry the eggs. Heat the olive oil in a frying pan on a medium-high heat and crack in the eggs, one at a time. Cook for around 4 minutes, taking care not to break the yolks, then turn off the heat and let them sit for 1 minute.
Take four medium-sized bowls, one per person, and begin to layer up your magic bowl. First divide the chicken and vegetable mixture into each bowl, then divide the rice equally and gently press down so you can’t see any of the chicken mixture.
Take a dinner plate and get ready to invert your bowl (this is the trick). Place the plate over your bowl and, holding the plate securely, flip it over (so the bowl is upside down on your plate). Gently lift up the bowl to unveil your bol renversé, and carefully place an egg on the top. Scatter with chives and add chilli paste on the side.
Extracted from The Island Kitchen: Recipes from Mauritius and the Indian Ocean by Selina Periampillai (Bloomsbury, approx €29.50).