Friday, June 14, 2013

Summer Fried Rice

So we had this lovely spring--cool and wet-enough-but-not-too-wet and green. And then Wednesday it was 95 degrees. Naturally that was the day I signed up to help at my son's scout camp. By the end of the day I was ready to kick the camp announcer/director guy in the shins. Judging from the way he made the entire camp stand on a shade-less hill for 20 minutes waiting for the flag ceremony to begin at the devilishly hot hour of 3:00, and and then gave 20 more minutes of announcements after that, I'm guessing he'd spent most of the day in the air conditioned scout building. Seriously, if I hadn't been about to faint away, I might have marched right up and given him a piece of my mind. When Mark and I got home, we ate ice cream. And let me tell you--it was not cold enough for me.

And then I had to make dinner. I made a simple one--fish, rice, corn on the cob, and watermelon. And I was glad I did because eating a nice, light, 20-minute meal felt better and more restorative than lying on the couch and hooking myself and my kids up with IV's of peanut butter (not that there's anything wrong with that).

But all that isn't really the point of this post (tell me you're shocked). The point of this post is to say that we had a couple of cooked fish fillets left over, a bit of rice, and a cob of cooked corn leftover. Now, I don't know about you, but I can't stand day-after fish. And cooked and reheated corn on the cob isn't really my thing either. You know, now that we're confessing things, I'm going to have to say that plain old leftover rice doesn't exactly rock my world either. And I couldn't pawn any of it off on Kip for lunch the next day.

So today I whipped out a frying pan, heated oil, and threw everything into it with some soy sauce (and some fresh chives that were sitting there on my windowsill). I thought it would be decent, but it was awesome. I could have been more creative or colorful  or healthy. I could have chopped up a few more vegetables or herbs. But I didn't need to. It was delicious. It was light, fairly healthy, and wonderfully satisfying. No nasty day-after-fish taste. No wrinkled, sad corn on the cob, no dry rice. It was that same light summery fish meal, but refurbished. You should do this too. In fact, you might even want to cook extra fish, rice, and vegetable one night just so you can have a (quite literally) five minute dinner of awesomeness the next night. I double dog dare you. And you don't even have to spend seven hours in 95 degree heat to deserve it.

Summer Fried Rice--a template of sorts
serves 4 (lightly)
Prep time: 1 minute
Cook time: 5 minutes
Cost: $6.50 (or about $1.60/serving)
fish: 5:00, rice: .50, corn: 1.00

Note: This can, of course, be made from scratch; and would be well worth it and still be a 30-minute meal. However, if you just make a little more one night when cooking fish (yeah, any fish) and rice, you can have a butt-kicky five minute meal the next night (or even the night after that). Also, fried rice is always a little better with leftover rice.

4-6 fish fillets (I used tilapia)
2-4 C cooked rice
2-4 cobs corn, cooked (or not--it'd work either way because they'll cook quickly in the pan)
1-4 Tbsp oil
soy sauce
chives (optional, but dang good and gives a little color)

For Leftover Meal:

Put oil in a pan and heat till shimmering. Add rice and toss with a spatula so that the oil gets on the rice. Add soy sauce (not too much; you can always add more; I'm sorry I didn't measure it; I didn't know this meal would be so awesome).

Chunk up your fish and add that. (Your fish, if already cooked is also already seasoned and that keeps the meal from needing too much extra seasoning.)

Cut the corn off the cob and add that.

Add a bit more soy sauce. (Garlic, ginger, etc. would also be lovely contributions, but mine was simple and still delightful.)

Snip in some chives if you can.

Remove when it's all hot and awesome. Eat.

Serve a salad on the side if you'd like to over-achieve.

For From-Scratch Meal:

Add 2 C rice to 4 C water. Cover. Bring to a simmer. (Note: I use less rice than this (about half), but if you like a lot of rice in your fried rice, then go for it.)

As rice cooks, heat butter in a skillet. Add fish. Season with celery salt, dill, and pepper.

Remove corn from husks. (Just use a sharp knife and cut down the sides.)

When rice and fish are cooked, remove fish from skillet and chunk it. Throw corn into skillet for 1-2 minutes. Add a bit more oil to skillet. Throw in 2-4 C rice (I prefer less, so I have more meat, corn, etc). Stir to coat with oil (by which I don't mean 'coat' as in get every piece of rice doused in oil, but to get more than just the bottom level of rice so it has some oil on it). Add soy sauce. Cook, stirring occasionally for a couple minutes. Add fish and stir. Add chives or whatever seasonings you want. Taste, adjust seasonings. Eat.

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