If you are a sucker for the crispy, crackly texture of Persian tahdig or the smoky, charred exterior of Japanese grilled onigiri, then you’re sure to go wild for “Grilled Sticky Rice Skewers with Peanut Sauce.”
I know I sure did.
In fact, this recipe, which supposedly feeds four, was roundly devoured in one fell swoop by just my husband and I.
Because I’m sure two regular people can — and will — easily lay waste to this dish, I changed the number of servings to reflect that in the recipe below.
It comes from “Rice Is Life” (Chronicle Books), of which I received a review copy. The cookbook is by Caryl Levine and Ken Lee, the founders of Lotus Foods, the Richmond, CA company that imports rice grown on small family farms in Asia to the United States.
In business since 1995, Lotus Foods definitely knows all things rice after pioneering its black Forbidden Rice in 1995 and introducing the first certified organic jasmine rice in the United States.
At the start of shelter-in-place, I admit I was in a tizzy over all the shortages at grocery stores.
Sure, the scarcity of hand sanitizers and rolls of toilet paper had me a little troubled. But what really got me worked up was the run on all-purpose flour and, yes, rice.
After all, I am Chinese-American. So to me, a pantry without any rice is a very sorry one, indeed.
Fortunately, when I was nearing the last few grains in my cupboard, I managed to find a 25-pound bag of jasmine rice online for a reasonable price. Now, normally, even I, in a household of two, would never buy such a huge bag. But because this was the only one I saw, I grabbed it without a second thought.
Good thing I did, too, because it’s come in so handy. It’s also inspired me to seek out new recipes to enjoy this mother lode of rice, including this one-pot wonder for “Rice with Andouille and Kale.” It’s a recipe by the late-great food writer Molly O’Neill that was published in the New York Times, which she wrote for regularly.
James Beard Award-winning food writer Danielle Centoni, a former food colleague of mine she was at the Oakland Tribune and I was at sister newspaper the San Jose Mercury News, greatly expands on the notion of what fried rice can be.
The book includes globally-inspired 50 recipes. Of course, there are standards such as “Classic Chinese Fried Rice with BBQ Pork” and “Spicy Fried Rice with Chinese Broccoli, Ground Pork, and Szechuan Chili Oil.” But there is plenty more that you’d be hard-pressed to have considered before, including “Fried Rice with Halloumi, Pickled Onions, and Zhug,” “Carbonara Fried Rice,” and “New Mexican Chili Fried Rice with Queso and Pork.”
She also includes tips for making fried rice (always start with day-old cooked rice), proper water ratios when cooking rice, and ways to avoid pests growing in your stored rice (freeze it for three days first).
Her “Vietnamese Pork Meatball Banh Mi Fried Rice” has all the vibrant flavors of your favorite inexpensive Vietnamese sandwich, but its foundation is rice rather than a French baguette. That means this dish is gluten-free, especially if you swap out the soy sauce for tamari instead.