Nori pizza.
Nori pizza.
Image: Yang Zhao

My post-Covid homecoming trip to China is coming to an end. In retrospect, I spent my years living in SA absorbed by a picture of “home”, a familiar but strange idea and place. I felt belonging in both places at times for the past two decades. “A Stranger at Home” by Noni Jabavu, sounds like a book I need to read as soon as I land back in SA, its title has touched me profoundly.

Before I arrived in China, my longing for home grew stronger. “I have to go”, I told my friends. A sense of urgency rushed over me. I felt like I was running out of time. Perhaps it has to do with my father ageing and I felt as if Covid-19 stole our already scarce time together. Two and half decades, one trip a year, three weeks at a time, was hardly enough to hold a full conversation with anybody let alone witness changes in a season. FaceTimes could never suffice compared to face-to-face connection.

So I decided to take my toddler out of Montesorri school, hopped on a plane, endured quarantine and hundreds of Covid tests to come back for six months, to make up for some lost time. It’s hardly enough, but it’ll do for now. 

Having been on the road for such a lengthy period, travelling, visiting family, learning new things and mothering, it has been an enriching, yet emotionally exhausting, but liberating journey. Home is not a static place, nor is it just one location. It is not only inside of you or simply where your heart is. Home could change as you grow, it does not need to be constant.

As an immigrant, food memories often bring me back to my grandmother’s home, where I grew up. I cement my memories by recreating dishes from my childhood, in fear of losing my past and who I am. “Authenticity” naturally attached itself to my work. It was not my intention, as I know it is not my whole truth. As a significant part of my life was spent in SA, its influence on me cannot be overlooked. What I am is really of both places. Software upgrade in progress, 2.0 loading.

One of the most exciting things to witness in the urban food scene in China is the inclusiveness of Chinese cuisine. Fusion is an understatement. Rather it is flexibility in the way people experience food and use an ingredient previously foreign to them. Who knew Durian fruit laid out on thick, spongy pizza base, covered in abundant mozzarella was so out of this world delicious? Like eating a cheesy, stringy, fruity, open bao sandwich.

The globalisation of eating culture has opened my mind and expanded my understanding of ingredients and their adaptabilities. It’s a reflection on people’s endless curiosity and pure intention of creating new taste experiences. It can be a progressive exercise for any food-loving person, and I am no exception. So I pledge to more explorations.

To be a travelling mama chef to a busy toddler is no small feat. To avoid constant takeout or eating out, I have gathered a few new simple food tricks — quick, easy, nutritious for both adult and child. Like this one, a calcium loader, and yet another umami bomb. A great snack for children, you can work most vegetables that you find in your fridge into the prawn mix. It’s also a great snack for grown-ups, served with a crisp glass of chenin blanc.


  • 2 pieces of Nori, with scissors, cut into 6cm strips, or 4 smaller squares shapes, set aside for later.
  • 120g uncooked prawns, deveined, ready for marinade
  • 2 TBS sweetcorn kernel
  • 1 TBS diced carrot.
  • 1 TBS spring onion

(You can use almost any vegetable)

For marinade:

  • 1 TB soy
  • ½ TB oyster sauce
  • ½ tsp sugar
  • 1 TBS peanut oil, if allergic, use vegetable oil and drizzle sesame oil at the end
  • 2cm knob of ginger, finely chopped. Add chilli if you want spicy.
  • Toasted sesame seeds for sprinkle


  1. In a bowl or directly into the vessel of a food processor, add soy, oyster sauce, sugar, and oil to prawns, mix and set aside for 15 minutes.
  2. If there’s no food processor, finely chop prawns to create a paste-like mix.
  3. Lay out nori pieces on a chopping board, spread prawn mix in a 3mm thickness.
  4. Brush oil on flat pan, with medium to low heat, place each piece with seaweed side down first, to crisp for 1 minute then flip over to cook the other side with prawn mix for 3 minutes.
  5. It’s ready when prawn mix changes colour. Remove from pan and serve.
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