“It is easy to love the people far away. It is not always easy to love those close to us. It is easier to give a cup of rice to relieve hunger than to relieve the loneliness and pain of someone unloved in our own home. Bring love into your home for this is where our love for each other must start.“Mother Teresa
This week our Sun Valley community is adjusting to our new temporary reality and work environment under the Covid19 safeguards. Most of us are preparing for lots of time at home and social distancing from friends and co-workers. Though uncertainty is prevailing, I am determined to view this time as an opportunity to band together to offer support to our neighbors. As we reflect about where we live, I am grateful to be a part of the Wood River Valley. I have high hopes we will rise from these uncertain times wiser and with a stronger sense of community.
Which is why I am posting pantry recipes that will be approachable to families and friends coping with self-quarantine and social distancing. This first recipe is a great use of a common pantry grain: rice. A big batch of rice can keep all week long and is an easy starch to sneak into breakfast, lunch and dinner. Cabbage is an excellent hearty vegetable with a long shelf life, however you can easily substitute with a number of frozen or fresh green veggies. In addition, I added alternate riff-off ingredients to be flexible with what you have in your freezer or fridge. This recipe makes fantastic leftovers!
Fried rice, an easy, hearty weeknight meal gets a lot of its richness from just a small amount of bacon. The soft, wilted cabbage lends sweetness, while the kimchi zips things up. The secret to getting a crackling, crunchy texture is letting the rice sit in the hot oil without touching it until it browns, but using leftover rice also helps. (As the rice dries out, it crisps more easily.) If you’re starting from scratch, just cook 1 1/2 to 2 cups of dry rice to yield the 6 cups of cooked rice. Then spread the rice out on a baking sheet and let it cool and dehydrate a bit before frying. Be sure to have everything ready and near the stove when before you start. The cooking goes fast, and there won’t be any time to prepare ingredients once you get going. When you are ready to serve, go ahead and dig through your refrigerator and pull out all the Asian condiments you have! This dish is a great vector for gochujang, fish sauce, sambal, and more. Dress up the rice however your heart desires.
- 5 tablespoons neutral oil, such as grapeseed or sunflower, plus more as needed
- 3 slices thick-cut bacon, in 1/2-inch pieces (about 3 ounces)
- 1 small bunch scallions, whites and greens separated, sliced; OR ½ onion diced; 1 shallot diced; 1 leek diced, whites and green separated
- 4 cups shredded cabbage (from about 1/2 small head); OR fresh or frozen green vegetables including bok choy, broccoli, zucchini, kale, spinach, collard greens, brussels sprouts, snap peas …
- 4 garlic cloves, minced; OR ½ tsp garlic powder; OR forego salt and substitute 1 ½ tsp garlic salt
- 6 cups cooked rice, white or brown, preferably day-old (1 ½ to 2 cups uncooked rice)
- 2 ½ tablespoons fish sauce, plus more as needed
- ½ tablespoon soy sauce, plus more as needed
- 3 fried eggs
- ½ cup kimchi, drained and chopped, plus more for serving if you like; OR serve with the hot sauce condiment of your choosing
- ½ cup green peas (thawed, if frozen); OR fresh or frozen green vegetables including bok choy, broccoli, zucchini, kale, spinach, collard greens …
- Toasted sesame oil, for drizzling (optional)
Crispy Fried Rice with Bacon & Eggs
- In a large nonstick skillet or wok over medium-high, heat 2 tablespoons oil until almost smoking. Stir in bacon, and cook, stirring constantly, until bacon is golden, about 2 minutes. Transfer to a medium heatproof bowl, leaving as much oil in the skillet as you can.
- Add scallion whites to the pan. Cook until soft, stirring frequently, 1 to 2 minutes. If the pan looks dry, drizzle in a little more oil, then stir in cabbage and a pinch of salt. Cook, continuing to stir frequently, until cabbage is soft, 2 to 4 minutes. Stir in garlic, and cook until fragrant, another 1 to 2 minutes. Transfer to the bowl with the bacon.
- Add remaining 3 tablespoons oil to skillet and raise heat to high. Add rice, and a large pinch of salt, then toss thoroughly to coat with oil. Spread out rice in an even layer along the bottom (and sides if in a wok), and drizzle fish sauce and soy sauce over. Let rice sit until sizzling stops and it starts to crackle and crisp, 4 to 6 minutes. Toss, taste, and add more fish sauce or soy sauce if necessary.
- Make a well in the pan, pushing the rice to the edges. Crack eggs into the well and let cook until whites are mostly set, about 2 minutes. Scramble the eggs with a wooden spoon until cooked through. Incorporate the rice into the eggs so the eggs are chopped up and dispersed through the rice.
- Fold in bacon mixture, kimchi and peas, then transfer to plates. Top with scallion greens, more kimchi to taste. Drizzle everything with sesame oil and soy sauce, if you like, and serve immediately with Asian condiments such as gochujang, fish sauce, and sambal.