Thursday, March 15, 2007

I Think Fried Rice Is Rather Nice

I am in a transitional time, dear reader. My day job ended three weeks ago, and I am trying to gracefully move into the life of a freelancer. Currently this means a lot of time at home, which has been a bit lonely. However, there is an upside: lunch!
Suddenly I have a full kitchen and stocked fridge at my disposal every day! No more throwing odd bits of cheese, fruit and pretzels into a bag as I tear out the door to commute, or paying too much for a limp sandwich made by a grumpy teenager. Finally, I am master of my (lunch) domain!
Here is today's deliciousness:

It was so good, and super-easy. Fried rice is a dish designed to use up leftovers, which I'm generating more of in my at-home lifestyle. Please vary this recipe to your heart's desire, I know I do! The only required parts are the rice, eggs and soy sauce, everything else is optional. Take what you like and leave the rest, my friends.

Fried Rice Is Rather Nice
inspired by Helene Siegel's Chinese Cooking for Beginners
Serves 4 (this recipe is easily halved)

3 tablespoons peanut or vegetable oil, divided
1/2 pound shrimp, shelled, deveined (leftover is fine, just skip the first step... not something I usually recommend :)
2 eggs beaten with 1 tsp. sesame oil and 1/2 tsp. salt
3/4 cup diced bell pepper
1/2 white onion, diced
3 scallions, sliced
3 cups leftover cold rice (white or brown)
1/2 pound BBQ pork, or ham, leftover tofu, seitan (seriously, it's good in this) or chicken, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 tbs. soy sauce (or a little more to taste)
1 tsp. garlic-chili sauce (find in Chinatown or the 'Asian' section of your supermarket)
dash white pepper

Heat 1 tbs. oil in wok (or large skillet) over high heat. Add shrimp; stir-fry until just pink, about 2 minutes. Transfer to platter, leaving oil in wok.
Add egg mixture; scramble until set but still soft (except you Dad, just dry 'em out). Transfer to platter; using spoon, break into bite-sized pieces.
Add remaining oil to wok, then bell pepper and onion; stir-fry until browned, about 4 minutes. Add scallions and stir-fry 20 seconds, then add rice. Break up rice to spread grains evenly while stir-frying. Add BBQ pork, reserved shrimp and egg, soy sauce, garlic-chili sauce and pepper. Stir-fry to combine and heat through, about 2 minutes. Serve!

Lunch at Chez Tory is great, though we're still looking for that dishwasher...

Monday, March 05, 2007

Gringa Tacos

I take being a gringa in LA very seriously. How seriously, you ask? Check it out, this has primo-wallspace in my teeny kitchen:

One of the great benefits of living in San Francisco and Los Angeles has been my proximity to recent immigrant communities, an intriguing experience notably lacking in my pasty suburban upbringing. In SF I lived in the mid-Sunset, which was about 85% Chinese (Cantonese). It was awesome: the groceries were packed with fresh cheap produce and treats (most of it I'd never seen before and gradually learned to cook with), and the restaurants in my 'hood had the funk, that deep earthy Umami-ness frequently missing in spots that cater to the round eye crowd. There was also terrific Vietnamese food (thus began my love affair with pho), and perhaps best of all I learned that harrassing women on the street is not part of Chinese culture. I could walk anywhere and not be on high alert, it was awesome. Would that all men were so respectful.
In LA it doesn't matter so much where you live as where you drive. I've spent a lot of time eating real, delicious Mexican food with friends who are native Spanish-speakers and know where the good stuff is, which has inspired me to research and recreate the dishes at home. Here is today's lunch, the last of some excellent pork tacos I made. You know they're gringa-style because the cheese on top is feta, not queso fresca. Still, que rico! I'm sad they're all gone.
Hmmm, if I ever end up back in the 'burbs (Lord please no), I'd probably throw the best dinner parties in town.