A Mother and Child Reunion

I once heard that Paul Simon got the title “Mother and Child Reunion” from a chicken and egg sandwich—which in diner lingo is known as a mother and child reunion. But I discovered recently that the title came from the Say Eng Look Restaurant in New York City’s Chinatown district.

In a 1972 Rolling Stone interview Simon said, “Know where the words came from on that? I was eating in a Chinese restaurant downtown. There was a dish called ‘Mother and Child Reunion.’ It’s chicken and eggs.” Known as “mother/child” or “mother/daughter reunion” these are common menu items at Chinese restaurants, and another version—oyakodon: mother/daughter bowl—is Japanese “soul food.” As with basic dishes, oyakodon is made in many ways as there are cooks to make it. Here’s my version, which varies with available ingredients. I’ll often add chopped mild thin-walled peppers (not a fan of bell peppers at all; more about that later), sun-dried tomatoes, mushrooms, and bacon.

Cube a boneless breast of chicken, dust with fresh pepper, and fry in vegetable oil until browned. Then poach these chicken pieces in a good chicken broth until tender. Doesn’t take long. Drain the chicken, reserving the broth, and stir-fry/saute  with sliced onions and whatever else you’re adding (green onions are a must). Then pour in enough broth to cover the chicken pieces by half, add a couple of dashes of good soy and rice wine, bring to a hard boil, and dribble in two or three lightly beaten eggs in sort of a figure 8. Cover and steam until the egg is just cooked through. Top with chopped green onions. Slide into a bowl of rice.

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