Wednesday, February 10, 2010

omg fried rice

Fried rice isn't something I usually order in restaurants or give much thought to in general. It's just not my bag. Which is why I was a little surprised that Mark Bittman's recipe for ginger fried rice called out to me so much when I saw it in the Times dining section the other week. In the photo, the rice was topped with a fried egg, something I love, and crunchy brown bits, something else I also happen to love. I needed to know what those tiny bits were made of--somehow that was more interesting to me than the rice--so I printed out the recipe and decided to give it a try.

The ingredient list was simple enough for a quick weeknight dinner: jasmine rice, an egg, some chopped leeks, garlic, and ginger, some pantry staples like oil and soy sauce. It almost seems too simple, right? Mark Bittman calls the recipe, adapted from chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten, a "chef's recipe," meaning that there are a few steps involved in transforming these basic items into something surprisingly decadent.

So I chopped the ginger and garlic into tiny bits, and sauteed them in oil until golden and aromatic. Drained on a paper towel and sprinkled with a pinch of salt, I could almost eat the garnish on its own, it was so good.

I sliced two leeks into thin pale green and white slivers, and tossed them in the pan, cooking them until they softened. Next, I stirred in the rice (cooked the night before--it must be made in advance to prevent it from going mushy), combining it with the leeks. I fried an egg in a pat of butter, salted the rice, plated it in a bowl, and drizzled it with sesame oil and soy sauce. I slid the egg on top of the rice, and sprinkled the whole thing with the fried garlic and ginger.

And I took a bite and swooned. The leeks gave the rice body and a savory, oniony flavor, the egg yolk added richness, and the crunchy topping put the whole dish over the edge. This simple dinner was way more than the sum of its parts. You can eat it by yourself on the couch with a beer, or you could serve this as part of the most elegant dinner party, maybe with some roasted broccoli or sauteed bok choy on the side.

I first tried this recipe when Dan was out for the night having dinner with some friends. Usually when he gets home, one of the first things I ask about is what he ate. This time, I didn't even bother. I practically danced around the room, bragging about how good the fried rice was. Like, OMG good. The next day, we ate the leftovers and he agreed. Or rather, he scraped his bowl clean and immediately headed into the kitchen to sniff around for leftovers.

Ginger fried rice
From The New York Times. I only made one tweak to this dish: drizzling the soy sauce and sesame oil over the rice, not the egg. I think it looks nicer.
(Serves 4 people)

1/2 cup peanut oil (or canola)
2 Tbsp. minced garlic
2 Tbsp. minced ginger
2 cups thinly sliced leeks, white and light green parts only, rinsed and dried
4 cups day-old cooked rice, preferably jasmine, at room temperature
4 large eggs (mine were double-yolk!)
2 tsp. sesame oil
4 tsp. soy sauce.

In a large skillet, heat 1/4 cup oil over medium heat. Add garlic and ginger and cook, stirring occasionally, until crisp and brown. With a slotted spoon, transfer to paper towels and salt lightly. Reduce heat under skillet to medium-low and add 2 tablespoons oil and leeks. Cook about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until very tender but not browned. Season lightly with salt. Raise heat to medium and add rice. Cook, stirring well, until heated through. Season to taste with salt. In a nonstick skillet, fry eggs in remaining oil (or a pat of butter), sunny-side-up, until edges are set but yolk is still runny. Divide rice among four dishes. Drizzle each dish with 1/2 teaspoon sesame oil and 1 teaspoon soy sauce. Top each with an egg and sprinkle crisped garlic and ginger over everything and serve.


Margaret Pinard said...

My heart smiled when I read the phrase, "I practically danced around the room, bragging about how good the fried rice was" -- now that is a success! :-)

Unknown said...

Never can quite make the fried rice like it tastes in a good chinese restaurant. That doesn't mean I'm going to quit trying. Thanks for the recipe.

Lisa said...

Margaret: It was that good!

Tender Branson: This isn't quite like restaurant-style fried rice, but it's very good for a homemade dish.

Daniel said...

Am I alone in thinking this was way better than the average Bittman recipe? I guess the "adapted from Jean-Georges" thing really counts for something.

Unknown said...

OMfG! This stuff was soooo delicious! Am thinking about buying more leeks at lunch today.

Lisa said...

Daniel: I completely agree. Some of his recipes are a bit too basic, but this had some complexity to it.

EB: I know, right? I'm glad you share my enthusiasm!


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