I was in court a lot this past week. Going to court is always a particularly draining experience. Park my car (hoping I remember where I parked on my way out), grab my files (hoping I haven't forgotten one of them at the office), run across the street in heels (hoping my heel doesn't get caught in one of the steam-spewing, piranha-like potholes on the street), go through security (hoping my necklace doesn't set off the alarm, triggering the security guard to give me a dirty look). Things rarely work out smoothly but a girl can hope! By the time I hit the elevator, I feel like I've already put in a full day's work and I'm not even before the judge yet. I guess it could be worse, I could be the one on trial. But let me tell you, it's hard to see this silver lining when it's 8:00 p.m. and I'm headed home knowing full well that my refrigerator contains only a bottle of ketchup, a few wilted lettuce leaves and my trusty Brita (which sits empty). No, I'm not a 21-year-old fraternity boy (because in that scenario, I'd at least have beer in my fridge). I just work a lot.
Dinner was a dismal affair this past week until about Thursday (yup, it took me that long to realize I was in trouble. Don't judge). See, I've been bookmarking Mark Bittman's recipes from the New York Times for a while. I'm cleaning out my bookmark list (after a spectacular dinner of Honey Bunch of Oats with milk, eaten from a large measuring cup because we're out of clean bowls) when I realize, Mark Bittman can very well save dinner. The Minimalist is not only a cute concept but one which works particularly well if you haven't had the time to do a huge grocery run in some time. A couple of ingredients, a simple preparation and voila, a real meal in minutes. No scented foam, no superfluous garnish, no flashy presentation. Just straight up real food for a real weeknight.
Enter Ginger Fried Rice. Nine ingredients, four of which, like oil and salt, are pantry staples. Plus, you know you want a way to use up old cooked rice. Fear not about the fresh ingredients, ginger, garlic and leeks, for they are open to substitution. For example, I didn't have leeks (surprise, surprise). The trusty Cook's Thesaurus said I could substitute green onions (which surprisingly, I did have). Don't ask why I have green onions in my fridge but no bread. I also didn't have fresh ginger so I threw in a bit of ginger powder. I did have fresh garlic and I'm glad I did because fried, crisp garlic took this dish to a whole new level (though you and your date may disagree about whether that's a good thing). Have some wilted spinach? Cook it with the leeks and throw it in. Some frozen mixed vegetables? Same deal. So we've talked about all the things you don't have to have. The fried egg is one ingredient you have to have. When you break the yolk and it slowly coats the slightly crispy rice underneath, a sense of calm overtakes you. You hear angels singing. I imagine this is what nirvana feels like. It's simple: no egg, no nirvana. I also add a bit of Sambal Oelek. You can use sriracha if that's more your thing (or more realistically, if that's all you have). Don't use Tabasco because that's just blasphemous.
If Mark Bittman was a Heroes character, his famous line would appropriately be, "Save the dinner, save the world."
Yields: 4 servings
1/2 cup peanut oil
2 tablespoons minced garlic
2 tablespoons minced ginger
2 cups thinly sliced leeks, white and light green parts only, rinsed and dried
4 cups day-old cooked rice, preferably jasmine, at room temperature
4 large eggs
2 teaspoons sesame oil
4 teaspoons soy sauce.
1. In a large skillet, heat 1/4 cup oil over medium heat. Add garlic and ginger and cook, stirring occasionally, until crisp and brown. With a slotted spoon, transfer to paper towels and salt lightly.
2. Reduce heat under skillet to medium-low and add 2 tablespoons oil and leeks. Cook about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until very tender but not browned. Season lightly with salt.
3. Raise heat to medium and add rice. Cook, stirring well, until heated through. Season to taste with salt.
4. In a nonstick skillet, fry eggs in remaining oil, sunny-side-up, until edges are set but yolk is still runny.
5. Divide 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.
From NY TImes