If you made my Spicy Korean quick pickles (aka "quickles"), you have probably gobbled them all up. If, however, you have some leftovers in the fridge and you are wondering what to do with them: look no further! I have found the perfect complement to their spicy, vinegary deliciousness.
This fried rice recipe is different from most. It was shared with me by a student of mine when I was tutoring for pennies at university. Heidi, if you ever read this, you should know that you changed the way I cook fried rice forever.
Here's the secret: instead of mixing your rice in with a few gobs of raw egg, you pat the entire thing down into a pan like a gigantic pancake. Then, you leave it alone. By the time it's finished cooking, it will have formed a beautiful brown, crunchy crust on the bottom. It's comparable to the traditional Persian tachin, which my beloved Samin Nosrat of Salt Fat Acid Heat fame makes in the last episode of her Netflix series with her mother.
The marinaded mushrooms bit was inspired by a delicious sandwich that I frequently order from a local cafe in Observatory, Ground Zero. They excel at vegetarian and vegan fare that is truly funky-fresh. More on them in another blog.
Let's get into how to make this dish!
Day-old Thai rice - I have made it the day of with moderate success. The drier the rice is, the better. You can cheat by sticking it in an oven heated to 180 degrees Celcius on a sheet pan for fifteen minutes or so
Oyster mushrooms, aka the most stunningly gorgeous fungi you will ever lay your privileged eyes on
Few tablespoons of good-quality soy sauce (just kidding, I have no idea how to tell good soy sauce from crap soy sauce)
About a tablespoon of sesame seed oil
Some neutral cooking oil (Canola will do it)
Splash of mirin
Bit of rice wine vinegar
Sesame seeds for a sexy garnish
Korean quick pickles!
Right, you know the drill. Before we get to flinging things about in the kitchen, you've got to get your mise en scene on. We call it your "meez" in the biz. Ha! No we don't. I read that in an Anthony Bourdain book. In my kitchen, we call it prepping your kak. Whatever you need to do to minimise cleanup and keep your kitchen counters a workable space is what you need to do to please your meez.
Let's start with the marinade. In a bowl, combine soy sauce, sesame seed oil, vinegar, and mirin. I know I've left you to your own devices re: measurements, but you know what - lean into it. I'm making a real chef out of you. You have to taste your way to good cooking. Measurements aren't going to help you now! Concoct your mixture according to your personal tastes. Get to know your ingredients so that you know how to balance them with each other.
Dice your garlic nice and small. We want to fry it quick sticks, man.
Fry your garlic nice and lekker in a hot pan with a smidge of cooking oil. When it's toasty golden brown, chuck it out into your bowl with the marinade in it.
Slice your oyster mushrooms lengthways so that you land up with some beautiful strips. Don't neglect the stalks! Nothing wrong with a good stalk. Don't tell my probation officer I said that.
Now, you'll want to almost dry-fry these lovely oyster mushrooms. Mushrooms are extremely absorbent, so they'll take on any flavour or substance you put in the pan with them. Too much oil and they'll get soggy and heavy. These guys are going into a marinade, so they don't need much in the pan. Plus, when you dry fry mushrooms, they produce this lovely, nutty flavour and a gorgeous chewy texture that is very close to meat.
When your mushrooms are cooked through, chuck them in the marinade and forget about them. It's time to fry your rice.
Splash a few drops of sesame oil (yoh, this stuff is a holy grail elixir for me) into your cooked rice. Splash a bit of cooking oil into your still-hot pan. You'll want to cook this on medium-ish heat. Once that's done, pile your rice into the pan and pat it down until you hear a sizzle.
So, this part is a bit touchy-feely. Tap into your home cook's intuition. I cook the rice for about seven minutes. You want to form a nice crust on the bottom, and it can be challenging to know exactly when that's happened. You can lift the sides to have a peek, but don't mix up the rice. You're trying to cook a nice kind of rice patty/flat cake situation.
When your intuition tells you that your rice is done (or, if your timer has gone off), gently slide it off the pan onto a plate. You can divide it into halves or quarters, depending on the size of your rice cake and/or how many people you are serving.
Ah, the moment of glory! Pour your carefully marinated mushrooms and their divine sauce over your rice. Let it soak up all that deliciousness. Sprinkle it with some sesame seeds for pizazz, and serve with Korean quick pickles or your vegetable of choice. I've also had leftovers for breakfast. It is *chef's kiss* delicious.
That's that! Dinner in fifteen. This is one of my favourite recipes at the moment. It's packed with umami flavour and a ton of different textures: crispy, crunchy, chewy. Stunning! Serve it for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.