Although I try to approach cooking and eating, and life in general, from an eco-friendly angle, thrift has always informed my style. To that end, this blog aims to help folks find, afford and enjoy sustainable foods, i.e. local and/or organic. In this society, where a truly bewildering variety of choices both tempts and confounds eaters, lucky cooks can find themselves overwhelmed by options. Our full cups may runneth over us, laden with delicious novelties from far-flung cuisines. Those less fortunate, the food-insecure, must make do with what they have, when they’re lucky enough to find something in their cupboards.
On this happy Sunday morning the toddler let me sleep in about an hour and a half later than usual. I feel nearly human! Coming into the kitchen area, I noticed that our pot of rice, just cooked last night, had been left out. Although the house still isn’t warm at night, it’s definitely not cold. So I put the pot into the fridge, determined to re-cook this rice soon. Nasi goreng-style fried rice coming up!
Inspired by last week’s Capital Area Food Bank Hunger Awareness challenge, I’ve been trying, even more than usual, to make use of odds and ends stashed away, maximizing my thrift. Nearly forgotten condiments, combined with cheap seasonal produce, the incredible, affordable egg, and leftover meats or inexpensive soy foods, resurrect abandoned rice. Lubing the lot with a lagniappe of sustainable fats utilizes even more precious foodstuffs that might some folks just discard.
Here’s this morning’s fried rice, Indonesian-inflected and fortified with goods on hand. Just a general guideline for creating your own tasty and budget-conscious quick meal.
- rice, cooked and chilled, I love Lowell Farms Texas-grown organic jasmine rice. Don’t use fresh-cooked rice.
- organic coconut oil, peanut oil, or local pork fat (Dai Due‘s salt pork yields a wonderfully savory grease, compatible with many cuisines. Don’t throw this rendered gold away!)
- organic tempeh (or tofu), cubed and tossed with 1/8 tsp. ground star anise, 1/8 tsp. ground roasted Szechuan peppercorns, ¼ tsp. ground turmeric and some kosher salt. Or you can use up leftover cooked meats such as lightly seasoned chicken, pork or duck (lucky you if you’ve got duck!), cut or shredded into bite-sized pieces.
- several local eggs, widely available at our farmers markets or maybe your own backyard, beaten thoroughly with a little salt.
- minced scallions or spring onion greens. Gorgeous alliums galore at our markets and Central Market is selling Texas 1015 spring onions for $1.69 per bunched trio.
- a couple Tablespoons kecap manis, which I never keep in my cupboard, or dark soy sauce mixed with about ½ Tblsp. palm sugar (I very rarely buy this) or turbinado sugar (now that I always have!) and a bit of ground star anise. Whatever you use, mix in about ½ tsp. turmeric, 1 tsp. ground coriander and a pinch of salt, too. To keep this dish kid friendly, I add 1 tsp. paprika. You can use spicy peppers, dried or fresh, depending on season, to your own tolerance.
- about a Tablespoon minced fresh ginger root. If you’ve been following this blog for long you know that I almost never peel fresh ginger. Neither did Barbara Tropp when she cooked at home.
- minced garlic. Lots of local garlic available again! Check out Tecolote Farms at the Sunset Valley location.
- Small dab of shrimp sauce or paste. I use Lee Kum Kee shrimp sauce, readily available at my work, and it flavors fine for my purposes, although it’s not the same as the more solid shrimp paste of Thai and Indonesian cookery. I bought the little jar and it will probably last my lifetime. Use what you have—if your cooking encompasses Southeast Asian specialties, not only should you already have all the ingredients necessary for nasi goreng, you don’t need my guidance. Carry on!
- 1 Texas 1015 onion, either from your spring onion bundle or a mature specimen (on sale for $1.29 a pound through Tuesday at CM), halved pole to pole, each half bisected at the equator and sliced medium-thin
- ¼ of a medium-sized head of Texas-grown cabbage (not available much longer this season), halved and sliced thin. In another season, use any stir fry-suitable local veggie, and/or Austin-grown (or homegrown!) mung bean sprouts.
If using tempeh or tofu, brown it up in your fat of choice in a large well-seasoned or nonstick skillet. Place the browned chunks on a plate and set them aside. If using leftover meat, toss it with the tempeh seasonings and add it in later. In the same pan, saute your minced scallion greens in a little more fat before adding your eggs. Give the eggs a few stirs as they cook before letting them set into a kind of pancake. I like to put the lid on the pan and turn the heat off so the eggs can finish cooking. Flip the pancake to brown the other side if desired, then turn the eggs out onto a plate and set aside.
Combine the minced garlic and shrimp paste/sauce. Heat up some more fat and sizzle your ginger. Add the garlic mixture and stir it around to release the fragrance before quickly adding the onion slices. If you’re using spicy chiles, fresh or dried, add them as well. When the onions are ’bout done to your liking, add the tempeh or tofu chunks (or cooked meat) and stir the mess around. Dump in the rice and continue to fry, breaking up the clumps. Add the kecap manis or soy sauce mixture and stir fry until everything is well-coated with sauce. Turn mixture out onto a large platter.
Using a large skillet again (I prefer not to use nonstick for this step), heat the pan up very hot on HIGH. Add a little cooking fat (organic peanut oil is great here) quickly swirl to coat the cooking surface and briskly stir fry the cabbage. Add a pinch each of turbinado sugar, kosher salt and ground roasted Szechuan peppercorns while you’re cooking. Turn the cabbage out onto the fried rice mixture.
Slice the egg pancake into bite-sized strips to top off the nasi goreng. Let your diners add soy sauce, salt, sugar, a little lemon juice and Asian-style chile sauce to taste to their own portions.