If you've ever wondered what to do with left-over rice, you've come to the right place. For some reason, despite years and years of cooking experience, including numerous catering gigs where keeping an eye on quantities in order not to overdeliver (profit!) or underdeliver (honesty!), I am still not perfect at judging how much rice or potatoes etc to cook for any given meal. And maybe I shouldn't beat myself up over it, since appetites vary just as much as my ability to make a good judgement!
I find it even harder when I cook Asian food... the challenge being that you have so many different dishes going round at the same time that you just cannot gauge whether your guest will happily polish off your food without a single grain of rice or gobble up the white stuff as if their life depended on it... So I sometimes end up with a whole lot of leftover rice and since it's hard to re-heat (steeping it in boiling water for a minute might do the job, but the result is watery and tasteless and I don't like using a microwave because it reduces every food's nutritional value to zero), a stirfry is a popular option.
This week, on an impromptu shopping spree in Holland Village, I picked up a new cookbook... no expensive affair either, just an Australian Women's Weekly, a cheap and cheerful collection of recipes for stir-fries. Do I really need this? Probably not, but it's what happens when you go shopping on an empty stomach. Everything looks irresistable, you could probably sell me stir-fried shoelaces on a grumbling tummy, especially when there's a nice picture to go with. I didn't expect much, really, but as I browsed the recipes that same afternoon (tummy happily filled with a summery salad and some toasted sourdough), I was still salivating over the photographs and lists of ingredients. There was a recipe in there for a stir-fried rice omelette, I decided to skip the omelette bit - seemed a bit much of a muchness - and just made the stir-fry. This time, I didn't actually have any leftover rice, but I had an opened tin of crabmeat (I know, how strange is that? My very first time of buying crabmeat pasteurised and in a can, me, the fiercest fiend of canned food... with a few valuable exceptions) in the fridge from making a soup I will share with you very soon.
Instead of the omelette, I served this with steamed bok choy, drizzled with 1 tbsp dark soy sauce and 1 tbsp rice vinegar - a few pinches of crisp-fried shallots or garlic on top and Bob's your uncle! This is a quick Asian trick I have adopted since living in Singapore... most Hawker stalls here (a Hawker centre, for those unfamiliar with the term, is a collection of open air stalls serving inexpensive food... one of the best, though not healthiest, and definitely the cheapest way of experiencing the local food) will "upgrade" your dish to a "menu" that's a rather healthier option than at the golden arches - the famous chicken rice will become a chicken rice menu through the addition of a small plate of kailan or bok choy and a bowl of miso soup and make your dinner healthier, not even more calorie-laden. You could do the same with pretty much any vegetable that takes your fancy, but I usually use Asian greens, asparagus or broccoli with the same simple treatment: steam for a few minutes, then drizzle with soy sauce and rice vinegar and/or fish sauce, add fresh or crispy shallots or garlic if at hand. Voila: your dinner just got that much healthier.
So here you have it, a wonderfully simple and quick stir-fry - even if you make the rice from scratch you can whip this up in under thirty minutes... perfect and satisfying weekday dinner, I should think!
2 tbsp grapeseed oil
10 spring onions
1 red chilli (long)
1 tbsp red chilli paste (Thai) - optional
600 g cooked jasmine rice (best cooked the day before and kept in the fridge)
300 g crab meat
1 handful coriander sprigs
2 tbsp fish sauce
2 tbsp lime juice
Serve immediately with steamed green vegetables or a salad, offer some more lime juice or chilli sauce on the side if desired.