Remember our cookbook club (fun NY Times story here / tips on how to start your own here)? Our last meeting, a couple of months ago now, was focused on Small Victories by Julia Turshen. We read, cooked, and ate from Julia’s new release and I’ve been meaning to share some of her words of wisdom with you as well as the recipe that I made that night – Kimchi Fried Rice with Scallion Salad.
Take it away Julia….
“There’s a theory out there in the ether that even the best cooks stuggle with cooking rice. I’m afraid I’ve suffered from poor rice cooking for a long time. The fail-proof method I’ve grown to love, especially for long-grain rice, with grains that are best when kept separate (as opposed to cozy short-grain rice, where the grains hug their neighbors), is to cook rice just as you would pasta. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil, add the rice, and boil until the grains are tender (10 to 15 minutes for most types of white rice, 35 to 40 for more types of brown rice). When the rice is done, drain it in a fine-mesh sieve and serve immediately with butter and salt, or let it cool and use it the next day for one of the best foods in the world: fried rice.
Leftover rice is best for making fried rice because the grains become very dry and then act as sponges for whatever flavors you combine them with. My favorite is cabbage kimchi, the fermented condiment that’s eaten with every meal in Korea. I came to love it when I worked on Kimchi Chronicles, the companion cookbook to the PBS program of the same name. Served with a simple scallion salad (a popular accompaniment to Korean barbecue), this is one of my favorite side dishes, and it makes for a wonderful, savory meal on its own if you top it with a fried or poached egg.”
PS. Next month our cookbook club is throwing it back and reading, cooking, and eating from The Silver Palate Cookbook. Chicken Marbella 4-EVA.
Kimchi Fried Rice with Scallion Salad from Small Victories
4 scallions, roots and dark green tops trimmed off
1 tsp toasted sesame oil
1 tsp rice wine vinegar
1 tsp toasted sesame seeds
One 16-ounce jar cabbage kimchi, including juice
3 Tbsp canola or vegetable oil, plus more as needed
1 small yellow onion, finely diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
4 cups day-old cooked brown or white rice
1 Tbsp soy sauce, plus more as needed
To make the scallion salad: Cut the scallions thinly on the diagonal or into small matchsticks. The best way to do this is to cut each scallion into three even pieces and then cut each piece in half lengthwise. Put each piece flat-side down on your cutting board and cut into thin strips. Put the scallions, sesame oil, rice wine vinegar, and sesame seeds in a medium bowl and stir to combine. Season to taste with salt and set aside.
To make the fried rice: Put a sieve or colander over a bowl and drain the kimchi. Reserve the juice. Finely chop the kimchi and set it aside.
In a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat, warm the canola oil. Add the onion and garlic and sprinkle with a large pinch of salt. Cook, stirring now and then, until the onion just begins to turn translucent, about 5-minutes. Turn the heat to high, add the chopped kimchi, and cook, stirring now and then, until the edges of the kimchi become ever so slightly crisp and stick to the pan, about 5 minutes.
Crumble the rice into the skillet and stir throughly to combine. Add the reserved kimchi juice and cook, stirring, until the rice is warm and red through and through from the kimchi juice, about 3 minutes. Turn off the heat, drizzle over the soy sauce, and taste for seasoning, adding a bit more salt and/or soy sauce if needed.
Transfer the fried rice to a serving bowl (or portion straight from the skillet) and top with the scallion salad. Serve immediately.
What’s happening around here? We cut our tree down / put our tree up, keep making / slurping Heidi Swanson’s Green Lentil Soup, and are playing Town Mountain’s I’m On Fire over and over and over. The winter trifecta. XO
Green Lentil Soup: Curry Powder, Brown Butter, Coconut Milk & Chives from Super Natural Everyday
Serves 4 to 6
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, ghee, or extra-virgin coconut oil
1 large yellow onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
5 1/2 cups vegetable broth or water
1 1/2 cups green lentils or green split peas, picked over and rinsed
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 tablespoon Indian curry powder
1/2 cup coconut milk
Fine-grain sea salt
1 bunch fresh chives, minced
Combine the 2 tablespoons butter, onion, garlic, and red pepper flakes in a large soup pot over medium heat, stirring regularly, until the onions soften, a couple minutes. Add the vegetable broth and lentils and simmer, covered, until the lentils are tender. This usually takes 20 to 30 minutes, but can take as long as 50 minutes.
In the meantime, warm the 3 tablespoons butter in a small saucepan over medium heat and let it brown. When it starts to smell nutty and fragrant, stir in the curry powder and sauce until the spices are fragrant, less than a minute.
When the lentils are finished cooking, remove from the heat, stir in the coconut milk and 1/4 teaspoon salt, and puree with an immersion blender. You can leave the soup a bit chunky if you like, or puree until it is perfectly smooth. Stir in half of the spiced butter, taste, and add more salt, if needed, typically a couple of teaspoons if you used water instead of salted broth. Serve drizzled with the remaining spice butter and sprinkled with chives.
We are just hanging out this week – no camp or any big plans so I am going to make this short and sweet (can you hear the eager kids under my feet?!). Today I am sharing a favorite warm weather dinner, Noodles with Baked Tofu & Raw Veggies. I have made a million versions of this dinner (tweaking the sauce, noodle type, variety of veggies, adding a fried egg) but it always hits the spot. The leftovers are great, stored separately, for lunch the next day too. And really, what doesn’t taste good with roasted and salted peanuts sprinkled on top?! I’ve even been known to chop up a handful of salted peanuts to top vanilla ice cream. Try it, you’ll thank me. But, we digress, back to the noodles…
Noodles with Baked Tofu & Raw Veggies
1 tablespoon canola oil (for greasing the pan)
1 16-oz block extra firm tofu
3 tablespoons honey
5 tablespoons soy sauce
1 garlic clove, grated
1 teaspoon fresh ginger, grated
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
1 pound fresh Asian noodles (I used ramen noodles)
1/2 cup rice vinegar
1 tablespoon honey
1/4 cup soy sauce
3 garlic cloves, grated
1 teaspoon toastes sesame oil
1/8 teaspoon chili flakes (or to taste)
1 1/2 cups thinly sliced purple cabbage
1 1/2 cups thinly peeled carrot
1 cup chopped cilantro
1/2 cup dry roasted peanuts, chopped
First, make the baked tofu. Place whole block of tofu on baking sheet and press with a heavy pan (I used our big cast iron) for at 30-60 minutes to release excess liquid. When ready, pre-heat the oven to 350F. Slice the pressed tofu into rectangles. Mix the honey, soy sauce, garlic, ginger, and rice vinegar together. Gently toss tofu squares in the marinade and let them sit as long as you can (at least 30 minutes but you can do this ahead and store in the fridge), then lay the tofu on a greased baking sheet, brushing on any leftover marinade. Bake at 350 for 15 minutes then flip, baking for another 15 minutes. When slightly cool, slice into strips.
To prepare the salad, mix the vinegar, honey, soy sauce, garlic, sesame oil, and chili flakes in a bowl until the honey dissolves. Prepare all vegetables and cook noodles according to package instructions. Toss warm noodles with half the dressing. Combine vegetables, cilantro, and tofu with the remaining sauce (dump in any leftover tofu marinade as well). Pile noodles onto individual plates, top with slaw, and finally with chopped peanuts.
It’s good that I mentioned taking Sunday afternoons to meal plan because I feel like you are all holding me accountable. So yes, I am sticking with it and in general the plan is working out well. We recently had this Ginger Fried Rice (with eggs) for dinner. The meal was a cinch to make, full of flavor, and easily customizable for each family member (sriracha, extra soy sauce, a sprinkling of sprouts, raw sesame seeds…).
The hours after dinner and before bed feel like a whole new day – Nick is home and we often head out as a family to the beach, a lawn concert, or friend’s house. It’s these after dinner outings that make it clear how important a real evening meal together is. When we are out of the house, the kids run around like maniacs, we go in four different directions, and anytime I try to pack a dinner to “eat” in these situations ends with a barely picked at spread and two kids requesting bananas at 8 pm. Three cheers for simple family dinners!
Ginger Fried Rice from Genius Recipes
1/2 cup peanut oil
2 tablespoons minced garlic
2 tablespoons minced ginger
2 cups rinsed and dried thinly sliced leeks, white and light green parts only
4 cups cooked rice, preferably jasmine, at room temperature
4 large eggs
2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
4 teaspoons soy sauce
In a large skillet, heat 1/4 cup of the peanut oil over medium heat. Add the garlic and ginger and cook, stirring occasionally, until crisp and brown, 3 to 5 minutes. With a slotted spoon, transfer to paper towels and salt lightly.
Reduce the heat under the skillet to medium-low and add 2 tablespoons of the peanut oil and the leeks. Cook for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until very tender but not browned. Season lightly with salt.
Raise the heat to medium and add the rice. Cook, stirring often, until heated through. Season to taste with salt.
In a nonstick skillet over medium heat, fry the eggs in the remaining 2 tablespoons peanut oil, sunny-side-up, until the white is set but yolk is still runny.
Divide the rice among four dishes. Top each with an egg and drizzle with 1/2 teaspoon sesame oil and 1 teaspoon soy sauce. Sprinkle crisped garlic and ginger over everything and serve.
I made this Curry in a Hurry earlier this week for dinner when it was snowing for the second day in a row. I am really good about complaining about the weather, especially when it is winter weather in spring, but then someone (nicely) reminded me that it’s silly to waste our time complaining about the weather when there is so much to be grateful for (like, just scroll down to the bottom of this page and check out the angle face).
And yes, I was very grateful for this simply weeknight curry. Grateful because it was planned (all the ingredients waiting for me in the pantry!), incredibly simple to make, super tasty, and stretched into leftover lunches.
(But really spring, pull it together).
Curry in a Hurry
adapted from Bon Appetit
1 large shallot
6 garlic cloves
1 2-inch piece ginger, peeled, cut into pieces
2 tablespoons canola oil
2 tablespoons red curry paste
2 teaspoons ground turmeric
18-ounces crushed tomatoes
1 13.5-ounce can unsweetened coconut milk
1 teaspoon kosher salt
3 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
1 pound mixed vegetables (I used carrots and broccoli)
Cooked rice noodles, cilantro, leaves, and lime wedges (for serving)
1. Pulse shallot, garlic, and ginger in a food processor to finely chop. Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add shallot mixture and cook, stirring often, until paste is darkened in color and mixture starts to stick to pan, about 3 minutes.
2. Add tomatoes and cook, stirring often and scraping up brown bits, for 5 minutes.
3. Stir in coconut milk, salt, and soy sauce. Simmer, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking, until mixture is slightly thickened, 8 to 10 minutes.
4. Add vegetables and pour in enough water to cover. Bring to a simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are crisp-tender, about 10 minutes.
5. Spoon curry over rice noodles and top with cilantro and a squeeze of lime.