When I travel for a long period of time, even though I experience fabulous meals at fine restaurants,
I find myself terribly craving rice. Even next to a juicy, wonderful prime rib, I dream about a scoop of rice on the side of my plate.
Rice has an essential role in the two cultures in which I have been raised. Japanese used to eat rice three times a day, breakfast, lunch and dinner. With the western influence, Japanese now eat bread for breakfast and maybe lunch, but rice is still the staple at the dinner table. In Iranian culture, there’s always bread for breakfast, but rice was (and still is somewhat) the staple of the dinner table, until white starch became a No No for the waist line.
On the airplane coming home, all I was thinking was, yaki meshi ! Pronounced yáki not ‘yucky’ 😀 meaning fried (also means grilled, like yaki tori / barbecued skewered chicken) and meshi is the same word as gohan, meaning cooked rice (uncooked, rice is kómé). Yaki meshi is usually made when there is left over plain cooked rice which could easily be turned into a meal, as it was introduced with how Nasi Goreng came to be.
Yaki Meshi • やきめし • Japanese Stir-Fried Rice
Recipe by: Fae’s Twist & Tango (fae-magazine.com)
In Japanese cooking, a balance of colors is very important. For this white rice dish, red, green and yellow are almost always incorporated, in addition to the colors of meats and other added vegetables.
• Cook 1½ cups of Japanese rice per direction on the rice package. Yields about 4½ cups cooked rice. (I used Nishiki brand rice, cooked 1½ cups/320 g with 2 cups/465 ml water in electric rice-cooker.)
Rice must be warm for frying. (If using leftover rice, warm in microwave before use.)
• 3 Tbsp vegetable oil divided
• 1 small/100 ~ 200 g onion diced small
• 2 cloves garlic minced
• ½ tsp fresh ginger minced
• 1 medium/100~150 g carrot cut in small pieces
• ¼ cup/ 100 g peas briefly blanched if frozen -or- briefly blanched green-beans, cut slanted and thinly
• 3 ~ 5 shiitake mushrooms cut in small pieces -or- 15 cm/ 6″ burdock root cut in small pieces
• 2 eggs (skip for vegan)
• ½ tsp sugar (optional)
• 2 ~ 3 Tbsp soy sauce
• 2 ~ 3 stems scallions sliced in 5mm/ ¼”
• ground black pepper to taste
• (optional) for extra flavor, add 2 Tbsp of small shrimps or diced ham
◊ If using burdock roots: Clean the root by scraping with the back of knife, cut in thin strips and soak in water for 20 minutes. Drain, rinse, dry well and fry in 1 Tbsp vegetable oil until soft, drain and set aside.
◊ In a small bowl, beat eggs with sugar and set aside.
◊ On medium-heat, heat 2 Tbsp oil in a mid-sized, deep, non-stick pot (or a wok).
Add onion, stir until edges start caramelizing. Lower heat slightly and add garlic, ginger, carrots and stir until carrots are half way soft. Add blanched peas (or blanched green beans) and stir a little. Add shiitake mushrooms (or fried burdock root), black pepper to taste and stir for a minute.
◊ Push the vegetables to one side and tilt the pot so the oil slides to the empty side. Pour the beaten eggs and scramble the eggs, half cooked. Add the warm rice, sprinkle soy sauce over it and very quickly stir all ingredients and mix well. Place a lid on the pot and let the rice form a thin crust on the bottom of the pot (a few minutes).
◊ Add ½ of cut scallions, and one final stirring. Dish out onto a platter, in individual bowls, or decorative dishes, garnish with other ½ of cut scallions.
~ どうぞめしあがれ / Douzo Meshiagare ~
So, what’s cooking in your kitchen?