Asian Comfort Food
The past couple of weeks have been hectic, and this coming week is going to be full of even more hustle and bustle. Unfortunately, being stressed out means not sleeping well and not eating well. For the past few days, my meals have consisted of small bites of Fiber One bars, a couple of pre-packaged salads, stale blue corn chips and Sabra hummus, and ginger ale. But a couple of nights ago, I did make some lettuce turkey wraps. And although I only had enough time to scarf down two lettuce leaves, the leftover basmati rice I made with it served me well when I decided to make some Asian comfort food today: good old-fashioned fried rice.
The nice thing about fried rice is you don't need many ingredients, and your main ingredient is something that's already been cooked. The fried rice I made today is a modified version of Jean-Georges' ginger fried rice recipe, which I read about a couple of years ago in Mark Bittman's "The Minimalist" column in The New York Times. Jean-Georges fries his rice with leeks and tops it with crispy garlic and ginger, adding crunch to every bite. I didn't have leeks, but I did have garlic and ginger root on hand. I always do. I also had bacon, and because bacon makes everything better I took a couple of slices of bacon and cut it into small pieces and fried it. I used some of the bacon fat to fry up the minced garlic and ginger (about two tablespoons of each). I learned that frying the garlic and ginger doesn't require much time at all. The first time I tried Jean-Georges' recipe, I burned the hell out of the garlic and ginger. But now I know that as soon as you seen one of the minced pieces starting to turn brown, it's time to take that slotted spoon and scoop up all the bits (fast!) and let them drain on a paper towel.
Then it's time to fry the rice. I hate having to use more pots and pans than necessary, so I dumped the leftover rice into the same pan. (It absorbs the flavors of everything that was fried before, right?) Rice frying doesn't take long. As you move it around and break up the clumps, you'll notice it "reanimate" as it soaks up the oil and gets heated. When I was almost done frying the rice, I took the bacon, garlic, and ginger, and tossed it all together in the pan. Jean-Georges and Mark Bittman sprinkle the garlic and ginger bits on top, but I decided to mix it together.
I put my fried rice mixture in a serving dish, and using the same pan, I fried a couple of eggs (local eggs!) as part of the meal. There's just something about crispy egg whites and golden yolks on top of fried rice. And in a matter of minutes, I had everything in a bowl: fried rice with bacon, garlic, and ginger, topped with a fried egg, and sprinkled with some scallions.
I realize this isn't exactly healthy eating, but it is comforting. And considering the weeks that I've had, and in anticipation of the week ahead, it's exactly what I needed.