Sunday, December 2, 2007

Tutorial on Fried Rice

I have been asked a couple times about how to make fried rice. I always thought that it was a fairly easy dish because it's basically diced up leftovers heated up with day-old rice. It wasn't until I saw the episode of Sam the Cooking Guy demonstrating how to make fried rice that I realized how easy it is to screw this up.

He made the recipe way more complicated than it had to be. I thought his whole show was based on simple ways to making complicated recipes? No wonder people are confused. Anyway, I digress...

So I've decided to create a tutorial on how to make fried rice. You can make this dish with fresh ingredients or yesterday's leftovers.  I like using leftovers (meatloaf fried rice, anyone?), because everything is already cooked and all you need to do is heat it through.

The most important thing is to start with day-old rice, or at least cold rice. Otherwise, you'll end up with a very mushy mess.

You might want to stir the rice around a bit to separate the clumps.  You don't have to be meticulous about it, but you don't want big lumps of rice either.  The only basic ingredients are the rice and eggs. You can add whatever else you want to your fried rice.   Of course, don't forget a bit of oil so that everything doesn't end up sticking to your cookware.   Order of ingredients to go into the pan is aromatics (garlic or onions) first, then meat, then veggies, and last egg-rice mixture.

Fried Rice
3 cups day-old rice
2-3 cloves of minced garlic (use ginger if making seafood fried rice)
1 1/2 cup choice of meat diced into bite sized pieces
1 cup choice of assorted fresh, frozen or leftover veggies, roughly chopped (if using snow peas, leave whole)
1 small diced onion
2 stalks of finely chopped green onions (parsley or cilantro are also good substitutes)
2-3 drops sesame oil (optional)
2 eggs, lightly beaten
vegetable oil
salt or soy sauce to taste

In a bowl, mix the eggs into the rice until well coated.  Set aside.  Heat wok or large nonstick saucepan.  Add olive/vegetable and sesame oil and heat over medium flame.  
Add onions and cook until translucent.  Remember to always stir constantly when cooking this dish. 
Add garlic and stir for about 1 minute.
Add meat, stir until halfway cooked.
Add veggies. Cook for another 2 minutes or until heated through.
Add egg-rice mixture.
Stir in green onions. Stir until egg is no longer runny. Turn off the heat and add salt or soy sauce to taste.  Makes about 3 servings.

Saturday, December 1, 2007

The Linkery

A couple weeks ago, I went to The Linkery with a friend of mine who just moved to North Park. Sorry about the text-only post, I didn't have a camera with me at the time. According to their website, The Linkery menu changes from day to day. Their kitchen creations feature produce from local independent California farms. The meats are all-natural and the veggies are often organic. Believe me, you can taste the difference. If you don't believe me, go to the grocery store and buy the organic grass-fed ribeye and compare it with the other ribeye. I shun hormone injected beef, I shun thee.
To all the beer snobs out there, you will find no Budlights or MGDs at this restaurant bar. The beer list features local breweries. I'm not a big wine drinker, but the wine list was a mile long and includes wines from all over the world.
This cozy neighborhood restaurant was packed when we arrived at around 7pm. There was also another sign in the waiting area that explained their No-Tipping policy (18% gratuity is automatically added to your tab.) My dinner buddy and I went to the bar for a beer while we waited. We were promptly seated before the bartender even got a chance to pour our beer (Mission Helles Lager for me and the Coronado Red for Dinner Buddy), I was pretty impressed considering there were two parties ahead of us. The nice waitress made sure our beers would be delivered to us. I ordered the Goat's Leg with Butternut Squash Gnocchi. Dinner Buddy went with a Picnic Platter of links. She decided on two Chicken links, Chicken Cordon Bleu and another one that was mixed with a variety of herbs.
The waitress also brought us a carafe of water for our table. She informed us that the water is infused with sage. Dinner Buddy pointed out the sage leaf resting on the bottom of the carafe. It was refreshing and a nice palate cleanser, which is great because we sampled everything on each other's plates.
Something was a little off when our dinners arrived. We finally switched beers and all was well. Her chicken links went much better with my Mission Helles lager and her robust Coronado Red matched the gameyness of my goat. I normally like my meat a little rare (this was cooked well-done) but I loved the flavoring. Slightly sweet and savory, didn't overpower the natural game flavor of the goat. The Butternut Squash Gnocchi was delectable, though I didn't care for the white sauce that accompanied it. It was way too sweet for my taste. Dinner Buddy's links were a major hit (duh, it's called The Linkery.) I'm not a big fan of Cordon Bleu, but I think I might have eaten most of Dinner Buddy's plate. I couldn't remember the name of the other link that she had ordered, but that was just as fabulous. The combination of herbs complimented the flavor of the chicken nicely. The Picnic Plate also came with a small plate of breads and a side of sauteed spinach, garlic and onions. The bread was nice and crusty on the outside, soft on the inside. I didn't care for the sauteed spinach. All I tasted was garlic, which I love but I also would have liked to taste the other ingredients. Dinner Buddy enjoyed the spinach very much and pronounced her love for garlic.
The dessert menu also listed beers that would match well with some of the items. I've heard of dessert wines, but dessert beers are ingenious! We split a Grilled Pound Cake, which was served with whipped sweet cream and fresh raspberries. The slightly charred outer layer of the chocolate pound cake my taste buds to a different level. Dinner Buddy also ordered a cup of Dragonwell tea, served hot. It arrived in one of those tea-mugs that had a removable part that holds the tea leaves (filled to the brim with loose leaves) and a cover so that you can let your tea steep to the strength of your liking.
Overall, the food was great. More emphasis on the flavor and quality rather than quantity. I was left satisfied, but not full. The service was prompt and attentive, well worth the 18% tip that was automatically added onto the bill. The starters ranged from $6-11, salads $6-14, mains $12-19, and desserts $6-13. With my student loans kicking in, I couldn't afford to eat here every week. But this is my new favorite splurge eatery.

7 days a week
5pm-11pm or whenever

3382 30th Street
in North Park
San Diego, CA
(though they are going to move to a new location on University Ave soon)