Seduced by Rice

My husband and I have been seduced by rice. We love it. This is one variation of fried rice that I made last week.

After my husband and I were first married, we lived in a small, charming apartment. It had been converted into an apartment after 80 some years as a classy hotel. It had those huge, white, orate cast iron heaters in the room, glass door knobs, and kitchen cabinets that went straight up to the 11 foot ceiling. I loved it. I miss it. It also had the best kitchen we have been so far (other than when we borrowed my father's).

In the first months after our marriage, it seems like all we did was cook. My husband was looking for a job while I was working part time as the children's director at our church. Once we made and ate breakfast and cleaned up, it was time to start making lunch. Then there was our midafternoon snack. Then dinner. Amazingly, we both lost weight during that time, probably because we were preparing healthy food.

One recipe was got addicted to was Thai fried rice. I got it from Naomi Duguid and Jeffrey Alford's book "Seductions of Rice." We always add about 1 tablespoon of hot crushed red pepper--enough to make it searingly hot.

Khao Pad

2 T. peanut oil
4-8 cloves garlic or more
red curry paste (optional)
(1 T crushed Thai red pepper)
1 c. sliced oyster mushrooms (optional)
2 c. cooked jasmine rice, cooled
2 scallions, cut into 1/2 inch slices (optional)
1 medium tomato, finely chopped
2 T. thai fish sauce
1 T soy sauce
egg (optional)

Heat a medium to large wok over high heat. When it is hot add the oil and heat until very hot. Add the garlic and fry until just golden, about 20 seconds. Add the mushrooms, if using, and cook, stirring constantly, until softened, about 1 minute. Add the rice, breaking it up with your fingers as you toss it in the wok. With your spatula, keep moving the rice around the wok. Cook for approximately 1 1/2 minutes. Add the optional scallions and tomato, the fish sauce and the soy sauce. Stir fry for 30 seconds to 1 minute.

Play around with this recipe as much as you want, but always use cooled rice, not hot, or it will stick terribly when you try to fry it. In my opinion, a lot of garlic and fish sauce are essential. My husband and I once made a double batch of it with 40 cloves of garlic and ate it all. The entire hall outside our apartment smelled like garlic. Our neighbors must have loved us.

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