crispy rice with spring vegetables and spicy korean barbecue-style pork

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This is a mash-up of two recipes by Bon Appetit and Tasty. It’s really good! Because it is loaded with fresh vegetables, crispy rice, and spicy tender pork. So many textures and flavours to enjoy!

Crispy Rice with Spring Vegetables
For Two

4 oz snow peas or sugar snap peas, strings removed and sliced diagonally
1 Japanese cucumber, sliced into thin rounds
Pinch or two of salt
Splash rice vinegar, optional
4 scallions sliced on the diagonal, reserving some of the green tops for sprinkling
2 tablespoons rice bran oil or vegetable oil
3 teaspoons toasted sesame oil, divided
1 rice cooker cup of short grain rice, cooked and chilled at least 10-12 hours
Spicy Korean Barbecue-style Pork (recipe follows)

Dressing
2 tablespoons gochujang or Sriracha sauce
2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon low sodium soy sauce
2 teaspoons honey
2-4 teaspoons sesame oil
2 teaspoons rice vinegar
1-2 tablespoons water.

Accompaniments
1/2 cup fresh or frozen green peas cooked 3-4 minutes in boiling water until just tender
2 cups fresh pea shoots, bean sprouts, watercress, or baby arugula
Pickled radish
Carrot and daikon quick pickles
1 fried or poached egg per person, optional

Prep vegetables. Put cucumber rounds in a small bowl and season with salt to taste. Toss cucumbers and let sit. Pour off any excess water then add splash of vinegar if desired. Taste and season with more salt, vinegar, and a pinch of sugar, if desired. Set vegetables aside.

Crisp the rice. Heat 1 tablespoon oil and 1 teaspoon sesame oil in a large skillet or wok, preferably non-stick, over medium-high heat. Add remaining scallions to the hot oil and cook, stirring until the scallions soften, about 1-2 minutes. Scrape scallions and oil into a large bowl. Reserve the pan. Add rice and a bit of salt to the scallions and oil. Mix well until rice is smooth, no lumps.

Heat 1 tablespoon oil in the work or skillet over medium heat. As soon as the oil is hot (I test the oil by sticking a wooden chopstick in the oil. If bubbles gather around the tip, the oil is hot enough.) Scrape rice into the center of the pan, and flatten it so it is even, keeping it away from the sides. You want to crisp the bottom of the rice but not make it thin like a pancake. Cook until the bottom is dark golden brown, about 6-8 minutes.

While the rice is browning, make the dressing in a small bowl. Only add 2 teaspoons sesame oil to start. If using Sriracha, omit the water. Taste and add more gochujang, Sriracha or sesame oil to taste. Set dressing aside.

When rice is browned, chop it up into chunks with a spatula and divide it between two bowls. Keep warm by covering the bowls with a kitchen towel. Set aside.

In the empty skillet or wok, combine the green peas and snow peas and cook over medium high heat, stirring constantly, until the snow peas turn bright green, about 1 minute. Add a splash of water to the pan until it sizzles and cook another minute more. Lightly season with salt and share it between the two rice bowls.

Next, lightly stir fry the pea shoots/bean sprouts/watercress/arugula. When it wilts slightly, lightly sprinkle a little fish sauce or soy sauce. Stir to combine and divide it between the rice bowls.

If using, fry or poach the eggs, one per person. Add to the rice bowls. Arrange some pickled radish, cucumbers, daikon and carrot in the bowls. Add spicy Korean barbecue-style pork (recipe follows) then sprinkle dressing and scallion over all. Serve at once with extra dressing on the side.

Spicy Korean Barbecue-style Pork
250g pork tenderloin slices, chilled or frozen for easier slicing
1/2 small red onion, sliced into thin strips
3 stalks scallion, sliced on the diagonal
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon fresh ginger root, minced
2 tablespoons gochujang
2 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
1 1/2 tablespoons Shaoxing rice wine
2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
1/2 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 tablespoon rice bran oil or vegetable oil
Sesame seed to garnish, if desired

Put meat in a medium bowl and add all the ingredients except the rice bran or vegetable oil and sesame seeds. Toss to combine. Refrigerate meat 30 minutes.

Heat oil in a large skillet or wok over high heat. Add pork mixture and stir fry until the pork is no longer pink, about 3-4 minutes. Sprinkle a bit of sesame seeds on top, if desired. Divide among rice bowls. Serve at once.

chinese congee

Chicken Congee

Congee or jook in Hakka is a breakfast staple in Chinese families. Jook also makes a light simple supper. It’s nutritious, a one bowl meal that includes carbs, protein, and vegetables. Very textural, it combines fresh flavours with preserved, so you get crunchy, crispy, salty, tangy,  aromatic, and sour all in a spoonful. It takes hours of simmering to get the rice this soft. However, this version was not simmered on the stove but in a slow cooker, thanks to a recipe by Melissa Clark at New York Times Cooking. She uses short grain rice, which I never thought of, and which makes a lot of sense. It’s starchier than long grain rice, and makes a perfect porridge. I recommend smashing the ginger to get a stronger gingery flavour in the rice. Drawback: it takes up to 10 hours to cook before you can sit down and enjoy it. So if you want congee for breakfast, you’ll have to set it the night before. Traditionally in Thailand, joke as it is called here, is served with a raw egg cracked open in the middle of the steaming hot porridge. The heat of the rice coddles the raw egg to an ethereal creamy consistency. However, I think raw eggs are risky so I poached mine. A runny soft egg in congee is delicious.

Congee (adapted from Melissa Clark, NY Times Cooking)
Time: 8-10 hours
Yield: 4 servings

For the Congee:
1/2 cup short-grain rice
6 cups water
1 inch knob of fresh ginger, peeled and smashed
2 shiitake mushroom caps, stemmed
2 chicken thighs, bone in, trimmed of fat with skin removed
White pepper to taste
2-4 poached eggs

For the accompaniments:
1/3 cup pickled vegetables, chopped into bite size pieces
1 tablespoon fried shallots (available in jars at the store)
1 tablespoon fried garlic (available in jars at the store)
1/4 cup diced scallion
1/4 cup diced cilantro
1 tablespoon fresh ginger peeled and slivered
chili oil, to taste (Available in stores, but I recommend Fuchsia Dunlop’s recipe)
Maggi seasoning, to taste (can use low sodium soy sauce instead)

Put rice and water in the ceramic bowl of the slow cooker. Add the ginger, chicken and white pepper. Stir. Cook on high for 1 hour. Skim off any scum and reduce to low. Let simmer 7-9 hours or until the rice has swelled,  is soft and mushy, and the water is thickened. Remove the ginger and discard. Remove the mushroom caps and slice into slivers and return to the pot. Remove the chicken and shred with a fork. Return shredded chicken to the pot, discarding bone and gristly parts. Meanwhile, poach eggs. Spoon congee into bowls, top with one egg each per diner,  and serve immediately with accompaniments.

Variation:
Make a pork meatball version, another Thai tradition. Season a 1/2 pound of ground pork with salt and pepper. Make small meatballs, about 1 1/2 inches in diameter. One hour before cooking time is up, add the meatballs and cook for 1 hour until no longer pink.

shrimp with spicy green rice

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A Southeast Asian-flavored dish inspired by Venetian risi e bisi, an Italian rice with peas. To me, this dish is reminiscent of  khao tom, a Thai rice soup with meat or seafood, served with steamed rice in a broth. In Thai cooking, condiments are served on the side so you can make it as salty, sour, sweet or spicy as you like. Although this recipe recommends seasoning the dish in the kitchen, I have reserved some of the herb sauce for seasoning at the table. 

Shrimp with Spicy Green Rice (adapted from Martha Stewart)
Prep time: 20 minutes
Cooking time: 21 minutes

2-4 large cloves garlic
1-2 green Thai chilies, sliced with or without seeds, depending on your preference for heat
1 cup packed fresh cilantro, plus more for serving
3 tablespoons fresh ginger (4-inch piece), minced
1 cup fresh Thai basil leaves, plus more for serving
2 teaspoons fish sauce
1/4 cup veg oil
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1 small leek, thinly sliced (2 cups)
3 cups chicken broth/stock preferably home made and low sodium
4 oz sugar snap peas, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces (1 1/2 cups)
1/2 cup long-grain white rice (recommend: Thai jasmine rice)
1 pound large shrimp, peeled and deveined, tails removed
Salt

For serving:
Herb sauce
Cilantro, chopped
Basil, chopped
Lime wedges

Special equipment: a medium-sized Dutch pot with a lid

Prepare all ingredients.

In a food processor, pulse garlic until finely chopped. Add 2 tablespoons ginger, chili, basil, cilantro, fish sauce, and sugar. Process until finely chopped. Add 1 tablespoon oil and 3 tablespoons water and process finely. You should have about 2/3 cup of sauce. Set aside

In the pot without the lid, heat remaining 3 tablespoons oil on medium-high heat. Add leeks and remaining 1 tablespoon ginger. Cook until leek is translucent, 3-4 minutes. Stir in rice and broth along with 1 cup water. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium-low. Cover pot and simmer rice until it is very soft, 17-18 minutes. The texture will be soupy.

Add shrimp, simmer, stirring once or twice, until shrimp just turns pink, 1-2 minutes. Stir in peas and 2 tablespoons of the herb sauce. Taste for seasoning and heat. If you wish, add more sauce—it’s quite salty and you won’t need any additional salt. It’s better to be cautious and not add all the sauce to the pot, but reserve the remainder for spicing up individual plates at the table. Remove from heat and serve with more cilantro, basil, and lime wedges, as well as the remaining sauce. I found that the dish didn’t need any additional cilantro, basil, or lime so I left them out, and just served it with the remaining herb sauce.

dinner for two: baked chicken and rice

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This simple chicken dish is complete. All you have to do is make a salad to go with it. The method is quite straightforward: Season the chicken, brown it, season the rice then bake the chicken and rice together. The rice reminds me of my mother’s version of rice pilaf, cooked with onion in chicken broth. It’s so good!

Baked Chicken and Rice

4 chicken thighs, trimmed of excess fat
1/2 to 1 tablespoon seasoning salt
1/2 tablespoon dried parsley
1/2 to 1 tablespoon olive oil
4-5 large cloves garlic, minced
1 medium onion, chopped
1 cup long grain rice (recommend: Thai jasmine rice)
1 1/2 cups chicken broth or stock, preferably homemade
salt and pepper

Special equipment: medium oven-ready pot with a lid

Preheat oven to 375˚F/190˚C

Pat dry the trimmed chicken thighs and season with seasoning salt and dried parsley. Let stand 10-20 minutes while you prepare the other ingredients.

In the pot, heat the olive oil on medium-high heat. When it is hot, put the chicken thighs in the pot and fry, skin side down until it is browned, 5 minutes. Turn over the chicken and brown the other side for 5 more minutes. Remove the chicken pieces from the pot. You should have about a tablespoon of oil and fat in the bottom of the pot. Remove any excess oil or add more oil if there isn’t enough.

Add the garlic and onion and cook them, stirring, over medium heat until the onion becomes translucent. Add the rice and stir to coat in the oil. Pour in the chicken broth/stock, stirring until well combined. Lightly season with salt and pepper. Put the chicken back in the pot, skin-side up, and cover it.

Put the pot in the oven and bake 35-40 minutes or until the rice is fluffy and all the liquid is absorbed. Serve the chicken on a bed of rice.

chicken in rice (khao mok gai) low-fat version

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Low-Fat Version of Chicken in Rice (Khao Mok Gai)
Prep time: 15 minutes
Marinating time: 2-12 hours
Cooking time: 30 minutes

8 chicken drumsticks with the skin removed
1 package Lobo brand Spicy Chicken-in-Rice Seasoning Mix (2 seasoning packets inside)
8 oz or 250g Greek style yogurt
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 cups white jasmine rice (Recommend basmati rice, if available)
250 ml coconut cream or coconut cream substitute
1 ½ cups water
1 shallot or red onion, sliced and fried (optional)

Equipment: a large pot with a tight fitting lid. If you haven’t got a tight fitting lid, cover the top of the pot with a sheet of tin foil that’s slightly wider than the pot. Then place the lid on top of that.

DSC053261. Remove the skin from the chicken legs. To do this, grasp the top and the bottom of the leg with paper towels and pull down towards the bony end, just like pulling down one’s pants! Pull off the bits of fat. Discard the skin and fat.

Cook’s Note: You can add other chicken pieces like breasts and thighs, but remember they cook at different rates from the legs. It’s better to use all breasts, all thighs, or all legs so that you can control the cooking time.

DSC053282. Open one Lobo seasoning packet in a bowl and spread it on the chicken pieces. Add the yogurt and mix it in thoroughly. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate for a minimum of 2 hours or overnight.

Cook’s Note: Wear a disposable glove to season the chicken because you don’t want to stain your hands with the turmeric in the seasoning packet.

DSC053313. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Remove the chicken pieces from the marinade and carefully put them in the hot oil. Do not discard the marinade. Fry the chicken pieces briefly in the oil just to brown them. Remove chicken and set aside.

4. To the hot oil in the skillet add the rice, half the remaining packet of seasoning, and scrape in the remainder of the marinade. Stir fry the rice until it is translucent, about 10 minutes, and the seasonings have been absorbed. If it looks dry, add water 1 tablespoon at a time, up to 1/4 cup of water.

5. Return the chicken to the skillet. Add the coconut cream and the 1 1/2 cups of water. Bring to a boil then reduce the heat to low so that the chicken and rice can cook together, about 15-20 minutes.

Cook’s Note: Do NOT open the pot lid to check it. Only open it after 15 minutes. Taste to see if the rice is cooked. If it isn’t and the rice seems dry, add 1/4 cup of water and cover the pot again. Cook 5 minutes more or until all the water is absorbed.

6. Serve with fried shallots on top of the rice for garnish, if desired. Add sliced cucumber on the side and a sweet-vinegar dipping sauce. This is an easy one to try:

Sweet-Vinegar Dipping Sauce
1/4 cup vinegar
1 teaspoon salt
2-4 tablespoons sugar
1/2 onion, chopped fine
1 clove garlic, chopped fine

In a small saucepan heat the vinegar, salt, and 2 tablespoons sugar until the sugar and salt are dissolved. Set aside to cool. Meanwhile, chop the onion and garlic as fine as possible. Mashing the garlic with a fork helps to make it paste like, even finer. Put the onion and garlic in a small bowl. Pour the cooled vinegar sauce over the onion and garlic. Serve over chicken.

poached egg and grilled pork on a rice burger patty

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We haven’t been to Somtam restaurant in months, so we went last night and brought home our leftovers:  grilled pork and sticky rice. I like these leftovers. They make a great breakfast the next day.

Heat about 2 teaspoons oil in a skillet over medium heat until it shimmers.

To make the rice burger patties, I pressed the sticky rice in the bottom of a ramekin, to make a patty about 1 inch high. If the rice is too dry, pour about a teaspoon of water on it and nuke it for about 20 seconds or until it is soft. To unmold the rice, run a sharp thin blade around the edges and shake it out upside down into the skillet with the hot oil. The rice will sizzle. Fry each patty about 3-4 minutes per side or until golden brown and crispy.

Meanwhile, crack an egg on the counter and open the egg in a clean ramekin.

To poach the egg, heat 2/3 pot of water in a small sauce pan. Add about 1 tablespoon vinegar to the water and let it boil. Turn down the heat to a simmer. Using a silicone spatula, swirl the water and slip the egg from the ramekin  into the center of the eddy. Swirl a little bit more, being careful not to break the yolk. The vinegar helps the egg yolk and egg white to combine while the swirling eddy helps to shape the cooking egg  into a round. Cook 3-4 minutes depending on how runny you want your egg yolk.

To remove the egg from the sauce pan, I use a spider. This is a spatula with a round head that has holes instead of slits. Drain the poached egg well and put it on top of the rice burger patty.

To assemble, put the  patty on a plate. Top with a piece of ham, or in this case, grilled pork, and  of course, the poached egg. Garnish with Sriracha sauce, if desired. Other garnishes: minced onion or scallion and chopped fresh cilantro.

steamed chicken breast with herb butter and coconut basmati rice

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I forgot the pickled vegetables.

This dish is made in 2 steps; the rice is cooked in a rice cooker and the chicken is steamed by wrapping each breast in foil then baking the packets in the oven. The original recipe from The Photo Cookbook-Quick and Easy directs steaming packets of chicken over the rice as it cooks. This is tricky, since both rice and chicken cook at different rates depending on the temperature. I thought it would be easier to do them separately. My solution worked, for the chicken and the rice came together wonderfully, with delicate undertones of coconut and herbs. The original recipe called for just a butter-cilantro stuffing. Though I love cilantro, by itself, the taste can be monotonous. The Chinese know this, and often combine it with other herbs such as Chinese celery (kunchai in Thai) and onion. The result is a more complex flavor, however, it lacks that extra bite and tang. The Thai solution is to put in chiles, and I agree with this approach. You want the flavor of chile without burning off your taste buds.

Coconut Rice
2 cups (8 oz each) Basmati rice
1 250ml coconut cream
3 cups chicken stock
1 teaspoon salt

Rinse the rice, if directed to do so. Then put all ingredients in a rice cooker pot, press the button and forget it!

Cook’s Note: If desired, dress up the rice with fried garlic and minced scallion.

Steamed Chicken Breasts with Herb Butter
4 tablespoons butter, softened
1 fresh Thai chile, seeded and chopped (if more heat is desired, leave in the seeds)
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
3 tablespoons chopped Chinese celery stems (reserve leaves to garnish a soup otherwise discard, they are bitter)
3 tablespoons onion, minced
8 boneless chicken breasts
Salt and pepper
8×12 inch square pieces of aluminum foil

Preheat the oven 350˚F/185˚C

To stuff the chicken breasts, slit each chicken breast from the thickest part almost to the end of the thinnest part. The pocket should be about 2 1/2 inches deep at the thickest part. Pat dry with paper towels and set aside.

In a medium bowl, mix together the butter, chile, cilantro, Chinese celery, and onion. Stuff each chicken breast with a generous spoonful of the herb mixture. Sprinkle top and bottom of the breast all over with a pinch of salt and pepper. Place the stuffed chicken breast in the center of a piece of aluminum foil, bring to edges together and fold to seal. Fold and seal each end. Place on a baking tray and repeat with the other chicken breasts.

Place the baking tray in the oven. Do four at a time or at the most, six. Bake about 15-18 minutes. Pierce the thickest part of one chicken packet with an instant read thermometer. The chicken should reach an internal temperature of 165˚F. If not, bake an additional 3-5 minutes.

Spoon cooked coconut basmati rice on a plate and place one cooked chicken breast on top; pour reserved juices from the packet on top. Serve with Pickled Vegetables, which as I said,  I forgot.

Pickled Vegetables
1 medium carrot
1 medium cucumber
3 scallions
1/4 cup rice vinegar
4 tablespoons simple syrup

Shred all the vegetables. In a small bowl, combine the vinegar and simple syrup. Pour vinegar mixture over the top of the vegetables and toss to combine.

 

rice bowl

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I got tired of eating street food. I know people who would say, I could never get tired of it. The fact is: I missed my kitchen. But for most of the week, I live in Salaya in a tiny studio that has no kitchen. I decided to buy a small 3 cup rice cooker and experiment with rice bowls. A rice bowl is a dish that includes meat, veggies, and rice all in one. I made this vegetarian version out of just a few ingredients: rice, a handful of cashews, golden raisins, sweet bell pepper, and scallion. The only thing I cooked was the rice. The rest I added when the rice was steaming hot. It’s  so simple it doesn’t need a recipe!

rice ruam mit

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This dish has everything all mixed up together–ruam mit. Well almost everything.  The base for it is Thai jasmine rice, of course. Then I tossed in raisins, green peas, lime zest,  the juice of a lime, scallions, salt, pepper, and the chiffonade of a few leaves of basil. Should have been mint but all we had was basil.  The raisins added a touch of sweetness to a rice dish that was also salty and tangy. A-roy.