Learning how to survive without rice for every meal

A Food Survival Guide Without Rice

Rice has been our staple back home. In fact, food was the last thing on our minds before coming to New Zealand. Confidently, we believe that we can adapt to the local way of eating food. But, sometimes we just found it unfeasible. We actually quite miss the taste of home—the taste of rice. As we cooked, I made it a habit to take pictures so I don’t forget what I’ve cooked. Then, it dawned on me that I can actually make a blog post about it to guide others! 

To start off, our first meal in New Zealand was a pathetic one as we’re hungry again in no time after eating it.

1. Look For Asian Supermarkets

When you can’t find anything to cook, that’s probably because you haven’t found the right place to get your ingredients. At this point, we still didn’t buy any rice to eat. We’re mostly living off noodles and soup pretty much most of the time. One of the beauty of Asian Supermarkets is that they have countless sauces and varieties that can last you for a very long time. Also, they’re pretty cheap too!

Asian Supermarket Sauces

2. No Rice? Do Carbs Replacement!

No rice? Replace them with pasta or noodles! Obviously we’ve forgotten that cooking pasta was an option until a pair of German-Austria girls at our Airbnb reminded us of that.

Immediately after, we started incorporating other forms of carbohydrate into our meals. Be it rotis, rice vermicelli or even dried noodles. In addition to that, we made it a point to always ensure a handful of vegetables were included for good measure.

Undoubtedly, corns are the best form of carbs and fibers you could get out there! Most importantly, it’s versatile as it can be steamed, buttered and salted, fried, or eaten raw! Not only that, they’re crazy affordable and abundant in summer! Sadly, as we entered autumn, the season for corns had also ended.

3. My favourite go-twos. Nuff' said.

Oyster sauce and soy sauce to calm my Chinese food anxiety.

4. Eat Enough Fruits

You need enough fiber and vitamins to keep yourself going. Actually, one great thing about New Zealand is that they have seasons. So, when a fruit is in season, it grows abundantly. At a point, there were too many of them that some are sold for cheap or for free. 

A box of infinity supply of peaches offered at church after mass.

5. It's Okay To Be Lazy Sometimes

You’re not alone. Some days we just get really lazy and cook the saddest pasta. Well, it’s still quicker than cooking rice! 

On days when we don’t feel like cooking, or to put it bluntly—plain lazy, we make ridiculous food combinations to imitate the “Big breakfast”. Behold, big breakfast, buttered and salted sweet corn, tomatoes and eggs, and garlic baguette.

6. Spoil Yourself Once In a While And Eat Fish

New Zealand is surrounded by the ocean! Fishing is a leisure activity and a hobby in New Zealand. Although they’re expensive, you can find a fish N’ chips store in almost every town and city in New Zealand! They’re actually a staple in New Zealand! Not to mention, fishes are packed with protein and healthy fats! Although eating fish N’ chips can be unhealthy, we indulged in it once in a while.

Snapper fish that our home dad caught.

7. Experiment With New Recipes

After I have gotten a taste of fish N’ chips, I loved it and wanted to do my own. As a result, my first fried fish turned out finger-licking good. Louis can’t stop praising how good it was, especially when dipped in sauce. 

The second time we fried the fish fillet, we upgraded its level to a lot crunchier. I also threw in some onion rings for good measure. Oh, you’re asking how it turned out? Heavenly. That’s what. It’s crunchy on the outside and soft on the inside. Hands down the best and cheapest substitute when we crave for KFC or MCD. Really, all you need is flour. And practice.

When we use the fish, we use the fish. The whole fish. And I mean everything. Including the fats around the eye, eyeballs, lips and cheeks. What’s left of the fish would be just bones and nothing left. Sometimes, I even feed the soft bones to the dogs. To conclude, I eat fish like a beggar.

Don’t throw away the bones after cutting out the fillets. Instead, boiled them into fish stock—throw in ginger, onions, spring onions, mushroom and minced meat. Season with salt (or soy sauce) and half a ladle of cooking wine. Most importantly, green HOT chili. Pinched our own Mee Hoon Kueh (same recipe as dumpling skin, really—Voila!

8. When In Doubt, Throw Everything In

Throw everything in along with basic pancake ingredients to get fritters and fry them like patties. From the picture it may just look like fried egg, nothing special, but they were palatable—a distinct flavour that I couldn’t quite explain. Rule of thumb: You need flour, eggs, and butter for the base. And then everything else is up to you. Experiment with chocolate, banana, onions, garlic, corns, onions, cheese, bacon, minced meat, carrots, potatoes,… and the list goes on.

Fritters fried by local kiwi.

9. Bake Your Own Cake

Actually, when I eat rice, what I’m doing is I’m also balancing my sugar level. Hence, when I don’t eat rice, I found myself getting hungry in no time. So, I learned how to fix sudden sugar cravings by looking up on no-bake cheesecake recipes on the Internet. Warning, though, you will gain weight if you eat too much of it.

I made a small portion that was enough to feed my home parents, my colleague, and the both of us for 2-3 times. Best of all? I can make the crust as thick as I want it to be, and still have extra to sprinkle on top! No one's gon' tell me what I can or can't eat.

10. Give It That Extra Kick

When you hear people saying that they can die without eating chili, I am one of those people. I bought a bag of frozen green chilis from a local Indian shop and included them in most of my meals. They’re my life saver. My comfort when food tasted bland and flavourless.

11. Make Things From Scratch

Also, we have learned how to use basic ingredients and make them complex. Say… making a roti. Or curry.

We have never made dumplings from scratch at home, and here we were, making dumplings like authentic Chinese.

In a nutshell, Food Improves Relationship

Well, from this picture, you will spot rice. Of course, we did not fully hold back from eating rice—just in lesser amount. I can’t stress enough the importance of food bringing people together. Not only have we done it in Auckland with our Airbnb hosts, but we’ve also done it in Opotiki and in the South. All in all, they’ve all been really pleased with our cooking. I can feel our bonds grew tighter with each meal. Here are some images of food cooked by our hosts to end this post:

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5 thoughts on “Learning how to survive without rice for every meal”

  1. Great post. Got me hungry by the end of it! Thanks for sharing the recipes. You guys can look forward to persimmon season soon. And feijoa – don’t ever buy these. Locals get so many from their own backyard and they’re very happy to share.

  2. Hey Anna

    Lovely post! I’ll be making my way to NZ next month. Just curious to know (as I have been observing based on your previous posts), where do you find such lovely places to stay at (homestay style and not backpackers hostels)?

    Did you book them way in advance? So far I’ve only have planned for one week of accommodation in Auckland when I arrive (to settle banking and IRD matters if any), and the accommodation after that will be based on where I can find a job. Which worries me because of the uncertainty of whether I will be able to find accommodation on such short notice. Hope you’ll be able to provide some insight. It will be very much appreciated! 🙂

    1. Hello Amy! That’s good news! I understand that you must be really worried of the uncertainties regarding your accommodation after your first week in NZ – that was exactly how I felt!

      But without bank account and ird, lots of jobs don’t allow you to apply. However, there are also jobs that allow you to apply first (I heard of many cases) and then work first while you get your ird, but you must have your bank account. You can always ask around in New Zealand Working Holiday 2018/2019 Facebook group (which was where I found mine). Try googling backpackers board as well.

      Aim for jobs that provide you with accommodation. I would suggest not going above 120. You can always find 120 or below. I’m on a budget. So…

      If you found a job that doesn’t come with accommodation, you can always go to Facebook again and post questions and ask if there’s anyone who’s renting a place.

      I’m sure something will work out. Remember not to stress yourself too much – like us. Lol. Enjoy your first week in Auckland and don’t just stay at home!

      Have fun!

    2. Oh, you can also try searching up “terry 纽西兰工作坊” on Facebook. He’s a Malaysian, living in NZ who helps Malaysian look for agriculture jobs in NZ. You can try messaging him. Sometimes there’s accommodation that comes with the jobs too!

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