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January 22, 2013

Fried Rice to Tame a Hungry Husband

Fried Rice
I had to come up with something to make on the fly and since my new bent is to try to use up whatever leftover ingredients I have in the fridge, on this particular January night I was left staring blankly at a pot of cold steamed jasmine rice. Then I heard Mr. B's tires hit the gravel as he backed into the driveway and the realization that I had forgotten to plan for dinner was clearly evident by the two scrawny, boneless chicken breasts that I had thawed out. My mind flashed back to the spartan lunch I sent with him that morning and the even more austere breakfast that I had fed him over NINE hours earlier. My panic was underscored by the slam of the front door because I could tell, as only a wife can, by its very tone that he was hungry and a hungry husband is a terrible beast that must be tamed immediately, lest an entire evening be ruined before it's even begun.

Thank goodness I'm a fast thinker and a clever woman, for before he even cleared the kitchen doorway, I had the frying pan piping hot and as he bent to kiss me, I was pouring in the last of the farm fresh eggs, lightly scrambled, so that as our lips met, the only sound to be heard was the sizzle of the pan.

Mr. B loves fried rice, but the stuff at the local Chinese restaurant is not only loaded with oil, but it's missing the symphony of vegetables that really make good fried rice sing. Tonight, I was going to whip up a delectable, healthy, colorful, and satisfying fried rice that not only would tame the hungry beast deep in Mr. B's belly, but leave him purring like a kitten. And the best part? He'd never know that I had forgotten all about his dinner.

The Best Ever Fried Rice

2-3 cups of leftover, cold rice
3 whole eggs, lightly scrambled
2 boneless chicken breast halves
1 cup frozen peas, set aside to thaw
10 ounces of white mushrooms, sliced
1 handful of shredded carrots, finely minced
1/2 red pepper, finely diced
2 small toes of garlic, finely minced
1 2 inch piece of ginger, peeled and finely minced
5 outer leaves (vibrant green) of Savoy cabbage (or, use kale, green cabbage, beet greens) finely shredded
1 big pinch of red pepper flakes
1 large handful of fresh cilantro leaves, roughly chopped
1/2 cup of finely topped green onions, green part only
2 T. raw, unsalted peanuts finely chopped
2 T. dry toasted sesame seeds
1 T. peanut or canola oil
Fried Rice Sauce (recipe follows)

1. Add 2 T. of cold water to the eggs and whisk to combine. Pour eggs into a super hot, nonstick frying pan. Fry as you would an omelette, lifting the edges and allowing the uncooked egg to spread to the outer edges of the pan until all the egg mixture is completely cooked. Gently roll the omelette up into a cigar and set aside. When completely cool, thinly slice into ribbons.

2. Reheat pan with oil and allow it to get very, very hot. Meanwhile, prepare chicken by cutting into small, even pieces. Sprinkle with a bit of low sodium soy sauce and toss to coat. Immediately, put chicken cubes into the hot pan in a single layer and stir fry until cooked through. To note: meat will stick to the surface if you try to move it around before the proteins in the meat coagulate. You have to be patient in order to get a nice caramel glaze on you chicken/meat. This takes about 2-3 minutes. Once the chicken easily releases from the pan, sprinkle in the red pepper flakes and add the garlic; stir and allow to cook until the chicken is no longer pink and the develops a nice caramel colored exterior; remove the pan from the heat and set aside.

3. Reheat the pan and add the mushrooms. Mushrooms release a lot of moisture, so cooking mushrooms first means that all the moisture will act as a liquid and help deglaze the pan, resulting in a lot of flavor. After the mushrooms are cooked and caramelize, add the red pepper; cook for a minute or two, then add the minced carrots.

4. Break up the rice and add to the hot pan, mixing it in with the vegetables. Pat down and leave alone. WARNING: cold rice has a lot of starch on its surface, which is why you want to use cold rice, because this will make for a crispy and tasty dish. However, if you try to move the rice around before the starch wakes up, you will have a gummy mess on your hands. Be patient; this isn't Chinese takeout pacing. After 5-7 minutes, turn the heat down to medium and give the rice a little nudge. If it seems stuck, then that means it's time to stir it. Grab a spatula and scrape it from the bottom, lifting it and folding it, flipping it and mixing it. Add the chicken and stir until evenly distributed. Then press the rice  down again, and allow it to cook. You're about 8 minutes away from brown and crispy at this point.

5. Add the thawed peas and fold into the rice.

6. Add the egg ribbons and fold into the rice.

7. Let cook until warmed through.

8. Fold in cilantro, chopped green onions and shredded cabbage.  Let cook about 2 minutes more, then turn off the heat.

9. Spoon into bowls; sprinkle with chopped peanuts and sesame seeds.

10. Serve with Fried Rice Sauce.

Fried Rice Sauce

1 T. Brown sugar
2 T. Soy sauce
2 T. Rooster paste
2 T. Rice vinegar
2 T. Warm water
1 T. Toasted sesame oil
Chopped ginger and cilantro to taste

Mix together and drizzle on fried rice.

So there's my ancient wifely secret to a happy husband and lots of good loving!

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