After our little epic cross-country jaunt we were both in the mood for something not made in a fryolator. I am floating in grease. I leave slicks behind me wherever I walk. Between Christmas, Hanukkah, New Years, the revenge of road food, and sitting on my duff for 3000 miles, we both need to be eating like rabbits. Veggies and rice it is. This is technically fried rice but it uses so little oil that I hesitate to call it that.
This afternoon we made a trip to a supermarket in Seattle (actually Shoreline if I’m being honest) that we’re both in love with. Central Market is one of those gems that you stumble upon and realize how lucky you are to be anywhere close by. I went in on a whim when we first moved out here and we’ve been solid customers since. It’s a huge supermarket which has a killer produce section. It’s got everything and it’s spacious. Produce sections in most supermarkets are too busy. So busy that they should be placed approximately several blocks down the street. There’s nothing worse than elbowing for room around the broccoli with 1400 other people and whacking into carts and carriages shaped like whales and sports cars with screaming children running every which way. Ugly. It’s not like that at Central Market. There’s a zen peacefulness to the whole affair here. Things are organized, there’s absolutely EVERYTHING under the sun. And it’s all fresh and screams of quality.
It also features a huge fish, seafood section, meats, poultry, prepared foods; whole slabs of fish, tanks of live crabs, sushi, sides of beef, it goes on and on. There are aisles devoted to asian cuisine with products with no English whatsoever. The prepared section goes from fresh corn dogs, to gourmet pizza by the slice, to whole roasted chickens. I would like to live here. We made an afternoon out of picking through things and picking up all sorts of supplies and tasty goods.
Back in the studio I started putting together our dinner. It’s not anything we have a set recipe for. It changes a little bit every time and I suppose that’s the beauty of it. It’s a basic recipe that you can tweak and adjust to your tastes and what you have around. And it’s healthy. Granted if you have hypertension you’ll probably want to run screaming from it – low sodium this is not.
We use Nishiki rice which is medium grain and comes from California. It’s perfect for this kind of dish. Use whatever you’ve got though. Long grain would still be great. The Nishiki is moist, not too soft or mushy, and holds up well to being cooked and then fried in the pan. We also use a rice cooker. Follow the directions on the package of rice or rice cooker. One tip we find important is rinsing your rice. Just put it into a bowl, cover it with cold water, stir a bit with your hands, and drain. This takes a bit of the sticky gluten causing starches out of the rice and makes a much nicer final product. Well worth the hassle.
2 uncooked cups of rice is enough to two people with a bit left over, and who doesn’t love some leftover rice. For this dish we add a big of low sodium soy sauce in place of some of the water. You can always add it later if you’re not sure. You’ll want the rice to be finished before you start everything else. This dish cooks quickly.
You can pick whatever you’d like to put in your rice fried rice. A good base is one bell pepper, two small to medium-sized Jalapeno peppers, one whole large shallot, one half a small onion, and two cloves of garlic – all chopped fairly fine. From there you can do whatever you like. Asparagus, tofu, bamboo shoots, water chestnuts, green onion, chicken….the choices are fairly endless. Simple ruled the day so we added just asparagus and extra-firm cubed tofu.
Grab the largest pan you have (with tallish sides) and drop a tablespoon of oil (wok, grape seed, or some other high temperature oil) into it. Set to medium high heat – around 7 on an electric. You can put all the base ingredients in at once. The onions, shallots, peppers, garlic, shallot, and spices (in this case we used just salt, pepper, onion powder, garlic powder, a little paprika and Chipotle powder.) Stir occasionally to keep things from burning. After a few minutes you can add the asparagus, tofu, and anything else you might want. If you’re doing asparagus you’ll want to add a bit of soy sauce for moisture and cover the whole mess for a few minutes just to make sure it steams. At the point that they asparagus is looking mostly cooked you can start adding the now cooked rice into the pan. Just spoon it in and continue stirring.
I will at this point make a little well in the center of the pan and crack two eggs into it. Break the yolks and then stir continually for a minute or two. The eggs will cook quickly and add quite a depth to the whole dish. If you’ve decided on any kind of sprouts or mung bean kinda things, add them at the very last minute and just give them enough time to get hot. It doesn’t take long.
Remove from heat and you’re ready to eat. There’s very little oil, it’s packed with protein, vitamins, and all manner of healthy goodness, sodium not withstanding (which really isn’t that bad if you’re using low-sodium soy.) Aside from chopping some veggies and the time for the rice to cook up, it’s a quick and easy to make dish.
For two people to have a filling meal and have a bit of leftovers you’ll need the following (and remember you can add/delete/change whatever you might like. Think of this as a good jumping off point.)
- 2 Cups Uncooked Rice (Follow Directions on Bag to Make)
- 1 Bell Pepper – Finely Chopped
- 2 Small to Medium Jalapeno or Serrano Chili Peppers - Finely Chopped
- 1 Shallot - Finely Chopped
- 1/2 Small to Medium Onion - Finely Chopped
- 2 Cloves of Garlic - Finely Chopped
- 1 Large Bunch of Asparagus – (Woody Bits Cut Off and Roughly Diced)
- 1 Package Extra Firm Tofu – Cubed (Optional)
- 2 Tablespoons of Low Sodium Soy (To Taste – you may need more or less)
- 1 Teaspoon Cracked Pepper
- 1 Teaspoon Onion Powder
- 1 Teaspoon Garlic Powder
- 1 Teaspoon Red Pepper Flake
- 1/2 Teaspoon Paprika
- 1/2 Teaspoon Chipotle Chili Powder
- 2 Eggs (Optional)
- Option Ingredients (Chicken, Bamboo Shoots, Sprouts, Water Chestnuts, etc….)