My favorite meal-to-make is the sorta-spontaneous, unfussible Teatime Nibbles, served 3pm-ish in the "time-out room" (aka, den or "cigar room"). This brilliant block of time is neither lunch nor dinner, so visitors arrive comfortable (from lunch, i.e., not starving, ergo, not expecting any food). No expectation = No anxiety and a big PHEW. People usually expect coffee, tea or some sugary drink. And for sassy ones, we have beer, wine and cocktails too - still got another half day to get through now!
For this particular group, Chinese reporters and state reps, I immediately think Big-Tray-of-Something...like, a tray piled with awesome Fried Rice, Mix Mushrooms and Chinese Broccoli. Let's do some flash fried King Crab (VERY nice) in mushrooms, Chinese broccoli and oyster sauce...with, of course, the standard condiment bowls of chili and fish sauce. Beverages will be RO water and ice COLD Vietnamese Coffee.
Okay, this month we are gonna eat rice with EVERYTHING and we're gonna eat it all day long! Why?! Because I just came home with 50 pounds of aromatic new crop jasmine Buddha rice, the absolute BEST!
Warning alert: There are no real measurements this time - SORRY again. I was rushing, lost in the moment, blinded by hoodless cloud of smoke at the Viking. Excused, excuses. Even though I seem unreliable (flaky), I did take pictures! I thought I could easily give some exacts and the pics would jog my memory, BUT, converting handfuls-of-this-much and almost-a-coffee-cup-of-this-much into tablespoons and teaspoons is terribly confusing. The risk of ruining new crop fried rice and king crab because of my bad recipe is too much to bear and I could just DIE. This time, see if the pictures make sense and next time I promise to write down EVERYTHING.
**FRIED RICE WITH EGGWHITES**
garlic & onion
salt and pepper
jasmine rice, cooked
sesame seeds, white and black
frozen corn or fresh corn
(1) First, cut up all those Baby Carrots. Purely a visual appeal - bright little confetti circles, beautiful perfect tiny rounds. Heat a pan generously coated with Olive Oil on High. Cook Carrots on High until some edges turn golden brown. Then add Salt & Pepper and throw in fresh minced Garlic.
(2) Separate all those Eggwhites! About 10 eggs equals almost 1 and 3/4 cups of Eggwhites. (I hate cooked scrambled egg with yolk in fried rice. The texture and flavor takes away from the rice. Eggwhites, cooked separately (vs mixed into rice while cooking) is silky smooth and delicate.)
(3) Cook the Eggwhites in Olive Oil, carefully keeping the whites soft but cooked through (no hard fried crispy brown edges!). Keep heat on medium to low. Eggwhites should be thin, WHITE and crepe-like. About 4-5 batches should cook all of it. Chop into small bite-size pieces, but not too small. Set aside.
(4) In another pan in Olive Oil, cook Chopped Onion on High. Salt and Pepper. Add onions to the cooked Carrots, toss and set aside.
(5) Frozen Corn. Grab a few handfuls and set aside with the Carrots-Onion. Let it thaw. (Since seeing Where the Wild Things Are, I will never look at frozen corn the same:( Sadness overcomes me...)
(6) Again, in a pan coated in Olive Oil, add cooked fresh hot jasmine Rice. Press the Rice down against the pan with a rice spoon against the heat. Salt and Pepper. On High, let the Rice sit for a few minutes to sear (fry) the rice and turn over to sear the other side. Look for golden texture, crunch! (Mushy rice no good, i.e., Panda Express, ew.) We want elegant chewy slightly crunchy texture.
(7) Add the Carrot mixture and Eggwhites to the Rice. Toss evenly.
(8) Next, cut up the Asparagus into small slices similar to the carrot effect - little green confetti circles.
(9) Add the Asparagus to the rice last to prevent wilt and shrivel-up (from overcooking). By adding them last, they will also stay vibrant green (won't turn a nasty olive muddy green color from being in heat too long).
(10) Add chopped Scallion. Toss evenly and add more Salt and Pepper to taste. Add soy sauce if you feel like it.
(11) Add Black Sesame Seeds for nutty taste and accent contrasting color. I find by adding just the right amount of Black Sesame Seeds to something so white and colorful makes the dish strikingly attractive. Add enough Salt or soy sauce for additional flavor.
We need a substantial item with this gorgeous Fried Rice. Still on a Mushroom kick, we have plenty of Shitake and Empire Mushrooms - awesome, chewy, flavorful with a consistency nearly identical to abalone (or sauteed calamari). People cannot believe how good this is! I always think in terms of color - like, Chinese Broccoli, GREEN, and King Crab meat, ORANGE.
**MUSHROOMS, KING CRAB & CHINESE BROCCOLI**
fresh ginger root
shitake or black mushrooms - fresh
frozen corn or fresh corn on cob
sugar, salt & pepper
fresh garlic cloves
Thai chili peppers
black sesame seeds
LadyK asked me one day, "How do you stir-fry?" Hmmm. I suppose it is the same as "sauteing," but in very High Heat temperature the entire time. The high heat "searing" creates the flavor. Adding water to the food and covering it with a lid, "steaming," ensures that the food gets fully cooked. So the timing and order of ingredients added to the pan or wok are critical to the success of the dish.
(1) Beautiful Empire Mushrooms, about 6 inches long and 2-3 inches in diameter. Cut, cook and eat the entire mushroom. Cut the trunks into small bite-size pieces and add to a hot pan overed in Olive Oil.
(2) Fresh Ginger Root. Peel, slice, then julienne. Chop the Chili into thin slices. Add the julienne Ginger and Chili to the Mushrooms (still on High Heat).
(3) Add a big spoon of Oyster Sauce and a tablespoon of Sugar to everything while cooking on High. You may get popping oil or sauce, so have a splatter screen handy! (After as many corneal abrasions as I've had from this High Heat cooking, you'd think I would keep safety chem goggles around? Be careful -buy a splatter screen!)
(4) Peel all those King Crab legs. Claws can be a pain, so stick with meaty thick legs. I break the segments and use kitchen scissors to cut the shell down length-wise to pull the Crabmeat out. A rich awesome orange and white. (Also, wear surgical gloves to protect your hands.)
(5) Add some scallions, pepper and a small bit of salt. The Crabmeat is already salty, so easy on the NaCl.
(6) Fast steam the Chinese Broccoli by heating Olive Oil in a Pan on High. Add Broccoli. Cover with lid. Then add 1 cup of water and close lid. Let it steam for 5 minutes. Remove cover so the green doesn't turn ugly.
(7) Add the Crabmeat to the Mushrooms. Throw in some leftover Corn.
(8) Arrange on serving plate. Put the Broccoli down first. Then add the Crab and Mushroom. Serve with some Black Sesame Seeds. Done...delicious!