January 16, 2010

Fried Rice with Soy-Ginger Salmon

Strange things have been happening around here lately. For one, the temperature has been at or above 32 degrees the last few days. That's not normal for January in Minnesota. A year ago yesterday the high was -6, and I don't think the temperature was above freezing for the entire month of January. Also a little strange, but in a totally awesome way, is my new eye doctor who serves you lattes while your eyes are dilating. Well, the doctor doesn't actually go behind the counter to steam the milk, but someone in the office whips up custom drinks while your pupils expand. I will never go to another eye doctor again.

Even stranger than warm temperatures and lattes at the eye doctor is this desire I've had all week to eat Asian food. I frequently crave Mexican food and sometimes french fries, but I generally have little desire to eat any kind of Asian food. In the last week, though, I've had pho once and this fried rice with salmon twice. Three times in one week. Unbelievable!

If Matt had his way we would probably eat at Chinese buffets five nights a week, but Chinese (with the exception of cream cheese wontons and soup) and buffets are not really my thing, so he's generally out of luck. Maybe it's a sauce thing. I'm not a huge fan of meals drenched in thick sauces, and Matt could live on sauces and condiments alone. At any meal you can find a minimum of three sauces surrounding his plate. When we go to restaurants he orders two kinds of dressing with his salad because two condiments are certainly better than one.

Getting back to the point, I was flipping through a cookbook a few days ago trying to figure out something to do with a piece of salmon and a soy-ginger sauce jumped out at me. I decided to take advantage of it, whipped up the sauce and marinated the salmon. I started cooking some brown rice to go along with the salmon, and before I knew it I was making fried rice. The only thing missing was some fortune cookies, but even without them it was a really good dinner.

The recipes I used for both the fried rice and the sauce for the salmon came from Mark Bittman's How to Cook Everything. I cut the recipe for the sauce in half and left out the scallions because I didn't have any, and I combined elements from two fried rice recipes to make the one below.

If you follow these amounts it should serve 3-4, or it will serve 2 with leftovers.

For the salmon:

1/4 cup soy sauce
1 tbsp rice vinegar
1 tbsp dark sesame oil
1-1/2 tsp sugar
1 garlic clove, minced
1-1/2 tsp grated fresh ginger
Black or white sesame seeds for a garnish (optional)

For the fried rice:

2 cups cooked rice, chilled
3 carrots
1 cup or so of frozen peas
2 eggs, lightly beaten
2 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp dark sesame oil
1/4 cup of some type of neutral, high-heat oil (I used sunflower, although Bittman is not a fan of it. He recommends peanut, grapeseed or corn.)
Salt & pepper

Preheat the oven to 350. Combine all of the ingredients for the sauce in a bowl. Pour about half of the sauce over the salmon in the dish you're going to bake it in. Stick the dish in the fridge to marinate until you're ready to bake it.

I was making brown rice, and while it was cooking I decided to make fried rice out of it. You're supposed to use rice that has cooled for a few hours, but since I didn't want to wait until 10 o'clock to eat I threw a few ice cubes in when it finished cooking and stuck it in the fridge. That's what a real chef would do, right? I thought so.

Cut the carrots into small discs or roughly chop them.

Steam them until they can be pierced by a fork but still have a little bite to them, maybe 5 minutes. Remove them from the heat.

In a large fry pan heat the oil over medium-high heat and then add the carrots. Sprinkle them with salt and pepper, and turn the heat up to high.

Cook the carrots, stirring occasionally, until they start to brown. It should take several minutes.

Once the carrots are done add in handfuls of rice, breaking it up as you add it to prevent clumping.

This is a good point to put the salmon in the oven, when the rice has about 10 minutes to go. It might be helpful to set a timer so you don't get sucked into the rice and overcook the salmon.

After you've added all the rice, make a well in the center...

...and pour in the eggs.

Scramble them a little, and then stir it all together.

Really grainy photo, but check out those scrambled eggs!

Add the peas, the soy sauce, and the sesame oil.

Stir everything together and let it cook for a few more minutes to warm up the peas. Make sure you scrape up the bits that get stuck to the pan - it's the best part.

Spoon some rice into a big bowl and top it with a piece of salmon. Drizzle some of the remaining sauce over the top and sprinkle with sesame seeds.

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