In the spirit of the season we have been thinking about new beginnings. Mrs Green is getting ready to go back to work after being on maternity leave, Baby Green will start to go to a lovely nursery a few days a week, Little Boy Green is learning new skills at a dizzying pace and I have promised to nurture the garden back to a loved and loving space. Not that things aren't growing - Mother Nature is irrepressible, and from every god's corner of our ostensibly neglected garden green and pink life springs forth.
This weeks recipe is perhaps less of a spring dish as those are often thought of, you know, the first broad beans of the season with a sprig of mint and a drizzle of cold-pressed virgin olive oil and a third of a wheat cracker. After a night of rocking a sick baby to sleep every 40 minutes or so, and a day of comforting the baby and a not-quite-well toddler, Mrs Green's order of the day was for a bowl of comfort for herself as she hoarsely whispered she needed carbs. I had no objection, particularly seeing as the sweet English spring has delivered on the promise of on-and-off freezing cold, strong winds and heavy rain. We may rely on more dishes to match the comfort of this one come Sunday and the clocks move forward and we lose an hour of sleep, just what already very tired parents need.
Fried Rice reminds me of late night takeouts from San Francisco’s Chinatown. Ordered with the hopes of reversing the effects of a few too many dirty martinis at Tony Nik’s “cafe” just a hop and a skip from Chinatown. These days it is more of a tonic, a sweet and savoury comforting bowl of food that requires all remaining blood from the brain to be relegated to digestion as we loll on the sofa overcome by yet another day of parenting.
We used frozen petit pois, very exciting stuff (and so much better than the run-of-the-mill garden peas), frozen corn and fresh cabbage, none of which is season dependent and to make it all the easier we didn’t bother to defrost the vegetables when adding it to the sauteed onion and garlic. The brown rice is pre-cooked, but I find it to be best cooked the same day and not refrigerated. The tofu we use is griddle ready, but if you can’t find the kind we used (extra firm “Japanese” tofu) then it would be best to press a block of extra firm tofu. To do this, place the tofu in a sieve or colander over a bowl, top the tofu with a small plate followed by a can of beans or similarly weighted object. After 20 min or so enough liquid should have been squeezed out to leave you with a very firm block of tofu that you can use as in the steps below.
Ingredients: (enough for two hungry adults and a toddler)
- 2 cups cooked brown rice
- 1/2 cup frozen corn
- 1/2 cup frozen peas
- 1/2 cup of sliced cabbage
- 1 clove garlic
- 1 medium onion
- 2 tbsp toasted sesame oil
- Tamari/soy sauce to taste
- Rice: Bring one cup of brown rice and two cups of water to a boil, turn heat down to a simmer, cover and cook for 30 min or until rice is cooked and water has been absorbed. Fluff with a fork, cover and let rest for at least 30 min.
- Chop the tofu into smallish pieces, roughly 1” (1 cm) cubed and char in a lightly oiled wok or similar (we used a cast iron skillet) until browned.
- Remove the tofu and add another drop (1/2 tsp) of cooking oil to the wok/skillet.
- Dice the onion and gently saute until translucent and slightly charred, approx. 5 min.
- Dice the garlic and add to the onions and saute for a further 2 min.
- Add the corn, peas and cabbage and cook for 5 min or until the peas and corn are cooked but have a slight bite/crunch.
- Add the cooled rice and mix into the veg, stirring continuously cook for another 5 min
- Add the toasted sesame oil, mix well and then remove the rice from and serve.
- Top with the tofu and season with tamari/soy sauce, kick back and chow down.