Sunny Side Up Rice: Weekday Asian skillet fried rice for one (pareve)
Need a little something to bring an ordinary weekday over to the sunny side?
Here’s a way to elevate rice from a humble side dish to a glorious main course for one person, perfect for weekday lunch or light supper? I don't usually talk about cooking for one, for the obvious reason that I live with several other people. But when the kids are off at school all day, sometimes I want to invest a few minutes into making something truly delicious that’s just for me.
There aren't many foods as simple and comforting as rice, and though this fried rice dish has a number of steps, it's simple enough to prepare in the background while I’m working, and the end result is flavourful and incredibly comforting. There are two possible variations -- "Indian" and "Chinese" (I'm using quotation marks because I don't want to pretend that these are authentic flavours...) that are equally simple to prepare.
For this recipe, I've used local Israeli ingredients, but feel free to experiment with whatever you have around. It’s as flexible as you are!
(it’s even vegan if you omit the eggs, since they’re kind of an afterthought anyway)
These Knorr flavouring cubes are amazingly helpful and can perk up almost anything, from plain old veggies to… well, stir-fried rice.
These are the “Indian” (הודי/hoe-dee) flavoured cubes. They can be added to the water when you’re cooking rice, but here, we’re going to dissolve them in boiling water to make a sauce that will season the rice.
If you don’t have these cubes, you can use a local variety, or make a “Chinese” variation by mixing 2 Tbsp soy sauce and a little sesame oil (to taste) with 1/2 c. of boiling water.
** NOTE: I strongly (strongly!) recommend a cast-iron skillet. Mine is by Lodge and I love it. It moved to Israel with us and I use it for almost everything. They're not always cheap, and good ones can be hard to find in Israel. (If you come across a used one, snap it up! Since it's just one big piece of metal, it can be kashered easily at Pesach and then kept out for year-round use.)
- 1 cup uncooked basmati rice -- Cook as usual and set aside; this recipe only uses half to 3/4 of the cooked rice -- save the plain half or feed it to your kids!
- 2 Tbsp canola oil
- 1 c. frozen mixed vegetables (your choice of veggies – I like peas and carrots, but today I’m out of carrots and I’m trying out a new kind of frozen cauliflower “tidbits”)
- 2 cubes Knorr Indian-flavoured seasoning or local equivalent OR 2 Tbsp soy sauce and 1 tsp sesame oil (or to taste)
- 1 cup boiling water
- 2 eggs, optional
- salt and pepper to taste
Here’s the cauliflower I’m using. It’s new here, being marketed as the “hot American trend”: a grain-free alternative to rice. But hey, why NOT mix it with rice, for the absolute best of both worlds?
- In a small bowl or cup, pour boiling water over Knorr cubes (or soy sauce / sesame oil) and set aside to dissolve.
- Preheat cast-iron skillet over low-medium heat and (when hot) add canola oil.
- Add frozen mixed vegetables and stir until thawed (only 1-2 minutes).
- Scoop cooked rice onto skillet until you like the look of the veggies / rice ratio. (Leave the remaining cooked rice for your kids or set aside for another day.)
- Stir rice in skillet to thoroughly coat with oil and mix with veggies.
- Leave rice and veggies to cook in skillet without stirring, 4-6 minutes. Stir. If rice isn’t browning a little, turn up the heat slightly.
- Continue to leave rice, stirring every 4-6 minutes, until it begins to brown and crisp up – don’t let it burn! (About 12 minutes.)
- Stir boiled-water / seasoning mixture well, then pour over rice. Stir well to ensure rice is evenly coated.
- Continue to leave rice, stirring every 4-6 minutes, until most water has evaporated / been absorbed, and rice is beginning to crisp again. It’s done!
- Optional: If you’re adding eggs, clear an area in the centre of the skillet by pushing the rice into a “donut” shape. Gently pour in two eggs, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and cook until set.
Now, just scoop rice into a bowl, then carefully top with the eggs, for a delicious and satisfying savoury feast for one in the middle of what started as an ordinary weekday. (You’ll probably have leftovers, even if you take seconds. This rice refrigerates really well and can be microwaved as a snack for hungry kids or husbands…!)
Who says a weekday lunch for one can’t be fancy???