It's so freakin' hot outside these days...there's nothing do to that doesn't involve a lot of sweating, which is bad for everyone. So, life is boring right now. We go swimming (which I must take pictures of!) and that's about it. So, that's why I have nothing to write about but cooking. Because basically my day consists of waking up at 5:45 am (thank you, Jack) thinking about dinner, making sure I have everything for dinner, getting excited about dinner, cooking dinner, eating dinner, saying that dinner was good, and going to bed...mixed in with a lot of being a mamma. Hence the onslaught of recipes lately. One day life will get more interesting and so will my blog...but until then, hopefully you enjoy the recipes!
I've found that the more I cook, the more boring I get with the things I cook. I mean, you can't beat a good ole fajita night, but when I get lazy, I get boring, when I get boring, I cook chicken marinated in some kind of marinade with a salad....over and over and over and over...boring.
When my friend Sarah made cashew chicken a few weeks ago for our Bible study, it inspired me to get my Asian cooking on. (Jeff recently taught me that calling people or places "oriental" wasn't PC...so now I know to call things "Asian"...rugs are oiental, people are Asian...that's my PSA about all things Asian.) Up until a few years ago, I swore I hated Asian food. Hated it. Truth be told, I really had never tried it. I'd just heard about nasty Chinese buffets. And growing up in small town east Texas, there weren't a lot of Asian restaurants to try out.
Then one day I was introduced to Pei Wei. Ok, not totally authentic Asian food, but yummy none the less, and gave me confidence to quit saying I hated Asian food and give it a try. Now I love it! From sushi to fried rice, it's one of my favorites. Only second to Mexican food...but mainly because Mexican has the whole chips and salsa going for it. You simply can't beat that.
I digress. I don't ever cook Asian food just because I'm not familiar with it. I mean, Mexican food? Do you have beans? Do you have cheese? Do you have tortillas? You've got dinner. Easy enough. But not being as confident in the Asian flavors, I haven't done much of it.
This week, I decided to brave the Asian food dinner. I love friend rice, seen the hibachi guys make, so I thought I'd start with that. I was doing some research for a good recipe and stumbled across this Shiok website. The best thing that I read about fried rice is this:
One of the most common questions I get as a chef is about making good fried rice. This usually puzzles me because "fried rice" in Asian food is hardly haute cuisine. In fact, it's the very opposite of it. Fried rice is not one single dish. It is more of a way of combining leftover rice with leftover anything else and turning it into a one-dish meal...fried rice is more of a formula than a single recipe.
I love reading that! I can do left overs with few boundries! So, reading on, the chef gives some great tips on how to get your rice ready to be fried and a few other tips that were really really helpful. The biggest thing he stated over and over again is that your rice can not be freshly cooked to be fried up right. It should be old...at least hours old, but better if it's days old, and cold or even frozen. Interesting.
I have a torrid relationship with rice. I don't like minute rice, and every time I've tried to make old fashioned rice, I've either burned it or it's been soupy. Not good. At all. So with my fried rice adventure looming in the foreground, I decided it was time to spring for a rice cooker! And it is...amazing. It's huge, can cook up to 20 cups of rice (no, I can't think of a time that I'll need 20 cups of rice, but if there ever is a need, I'll be there) and cook it PERFECTLY! It was so easy...dump in the rice, dump in the water, snap the top, press the button...30 minutes later, perfectly cooked rice!
So I cooked my rice Monday morning early and stuck it in the fridge to cool and then the freezer to get it really ready to get fried. And I have to say...maybe it was beginner's luck, but my fried rice turned out GOOD!
So, here's a basic run down of what I did. I didn't measure things out, I just kinda went with the flow...
To start off, I marinated some chicken breasts in a yummy Lawry's Sesame Ginger marinade (YUM), diced it up into bite sized pieces and fried them up in the skillet in a little sesame oil. After the chicken was cooked, I took it out and set it aside.
Now for the rice.
- Put a few turns of oil (I used sesame because I had it, but you could also use canola or vegetable)in a large skillet and start heating it up. (FYI, I don't have a wok, but the huge skillet worked just fine). You don't want too much oil or it will be too greasy...so go light, you can always add more later.
- Smash a few cloves of garlic and toss them in the oil to infuse the oil with flavor.
- Slice a few thin slices of fresh ginger and toss those in the oil to get that ginger flavor mixed with the garlic.
- Once the garlic and ginger pieces brown, take them out.
- Now, toss in your cold rice. Stir fry it around for a few minutes, warming up the rice and coating it with oil.
- Once it's warmed, toss in your choice steamed veggies. I used carrots and peas, but next time I want to toss in some water chestnuts. I love their crunch! And bean sprouts. Stir fry for a bit until everything's warmed.
- Toss in the chicken and continue to stir fry.
- Push aside the rice in the skillet to make a "hole" in the middle. Crack 2 eggs in the hole and saute them until they are kinda set before tossing them with the rice.
- Add in a little salt and pepper (I also added in a few red pepper flakes and a little ginger) and soy sauce.
- Stir it up until all mixed and serve!