So often, a quickly prepared meal can be one made up of various items that were not quick in the making, but sit, happily waiting in the cupboard, fridge or freezer, ready for their chance to play a part in a hastily prepared lunch or dinner.
Anyone who’s read many posts on this blog will be well aware of the store I set in making my own bread (I’ve often considered giving it an entry of its own here, featuring as it does so often in the meals I prepare, but doing so would rather go against the spirit of the whole thing, so instead, I’ll just direct you towards THIS page of the brilliant James Morton’s website, which will give you all the information you need, provided you’re the owner of a cast iron cooking pot, to get started on making fantastic, convincingly worth-it bread quickly and easily), and lately I’ve found myself filling mason jars and zip-loc bags with various pre-prepared items to cure, marinate or ferment, ready for use at a moment’s notice.
Today’s lunch was a combination of just such a group of things: Some cold left-over rice, refried, an off-cut of yesterday’s rotisserie chicken, some kimchi, and a ramen egg. All had undergone various preparations, both lengthly and quick at some stage, but all that needed cooking at the time, in a matter of five minutes or so, was the rice.
Fried rice, thanks to any number of Chinese takeaways who are a little to free and easy with the oil, has a reputation for sickly greasiness but, as the editors of the Lucky Peach (a food journal to which I subscribe, and humbly suggest that you might too) point out in their fried rice recipe, “Fried rice is not actually fried; good fried rice is fluffy and not oily”; the oil is there merely to lubricate the pan and help along the accompaniments, the whole process being designed to simply reheat the rice. Having prepared this accompaniment in many ways in the past, with additions of soy sauce, ginger, garlic, Chinese five-spice, rice wine and goodness knows what else, Nigel Slater’s simple version, using ingredients that could be found at an only moderately well stocked corner shop, feels the most comforting and sensible to me. The method is as follows.
I prepared a portion sized helping of cold, left-over steamed rice, a spring onion, sliced thinly, and an egg, beaten with a pinch of salt, as a pan with a tablespoon of oil heated on the hob. Once the oil was hot, I turned down the heat a little, tipped in the spring onion, sir frying for half a minute, poured in the beaten egg, leaving it be for a few seconds before scrambling it with a pair of chopsticks, then finally added the rice, pushing it around the pan a little, breaking up any clumps and warming it through for a few minutes, before decanting the lot into a bowl.
Coupled with the chicken, kimchi, egg and a splash of light soy sauce (a sodium addict like me needs it) this proved a more than sufficient lunch, and one I could throw together under the eyes of a hungry baby waiting to be fed without breaking a sweat which, after all, was really the whole idea of this thing in the first place.
Buy your own copy of Nigel Slater’s ‘Real Fast Food’ HERE.