Monday, October 19, 2009

Autumn Harvest Meal: Philippine Rice & Egg


Rather a hectic day today. Contractors at work in the house. Husband needing a ride to the airport. A warmish day after the first frost of the season, and gardening tasks beckoning. I topped the Brussels sprouts today, which apparently will convince them to get busy building what sprouts they have set. I hope it works. The sprouts out there are mostly nubbins so far. This is what happens the first time you try to grow something.

But those tops I cut off...they look ever so much like cabbage leaves - no surprises there as they're all one big happy family. I brought them in and wondered what to do with them and the last two tomatoes I found hidden on a trailing tomato vine on the ground. There was sushi rice leftover from packing my husband some lunch to travel with. And of course there are always eggs from the girls.

So I decided to make a dish that is either traditional in the Philippines or else invented entirely by me on the basis of rumor and innuendo. I've never been to the Philippines, nor studied their cuisine, nor even known anyone of Philippine origin beyond the most cursory acquaintance. But I seem to remember hearing that they like to eat fried eggs over fried rice with garlic and red chili pepper flakes. This may be a figment of my imagination, or a misinterpretation, a mis-remembering, or whathaveyou. But nonetheless I adopted this dish and added quick cooked greens as a very easy dinner when the stars are all aligned. I've made it with beet greens and mustard greens. It's all good, as were these Brussels sprout tops. The tomatoes tonight were a novel addition.

Philippine(?) Fried Rice, Eggs, and Greens

Start with a clove or two of garlic, some chili pepper flakes, leftover rice and a generous bit of neutral cooking oil. Thinly slice the garlic and saute it for a minute or two in the oil over medium-high heat. Let the garlic begin to brown, but don't allow it to burn. Add a pinch of chili pepper flakes and then almost immediately the rice. Stir the rice around until it heats through, adding a dribble or two of water if the leftover rice is dried out. When it's warm, portion it out on the plates. Add a bit more oil to the pan and add some tender greens. Cook over medium-high heat, adding a bit of water if necessary to help them wilt. Sprinkle with salt or a dash of soy sauce. If the greens are from the cabbage family you may want to cover with a lid and let them wilt properly for a minute or two. When warm and wilted, add the greens to the plates alongside the rice. Finally, reduce the heat to medium and add just a touch more oil, if needed, to the pan. Fry one egg per person, adding a smidgen of chili pepper flakes and salt to the eggs as they cook sunny side up. When the eggs are cooked to your liking, add them over the greens and rice. Garnish with finely chopped scallions or chives if you have any.

I particularly like using leftover sushi rice for this dish as it adds a nice vinegar tang to the flavor profile. This isn't high brow food. It isn't food from my upbringing. But this is quintessential soul food on a chill autumn evening. The tops from the Brussels sprouts provided the perfect amount to serve just one tonight, and only one dirty pan. It hit the spot.

P.S. If you know anything about the Philippines' cuisine, please enlighten me.

5 comments:

Marilynne said...

You are such an inventor. I can't even decide what to cook. Thanks for all the ideas you give me.

safira said...

I've seen a similar dish in one of the Moosewood cookbooks as a Phillipine dish.I can't vouch for the accuracy, but know it's a favorite of mine when I have an abundance of greens.

Juliette said...

Brussels tops are my favourite green veg, so deliciously sweet, yet nobody seems to know about them!

Kate said...

Marilynne, thanks. But in my kitchen necessity is the mother of invention. When it's time to think about dinner, I usually look around and see what needs using up. At least half of what we eat is determined entirely by my fear of waste.

Safira, thanks for the lead. I may have to actually look into this until I have a definitive answer.

Juliette, they were indeed delicious. I just don't see them being in great supply. I don't think the tops will re-grow now, and we only had six plants. But I'm sure the tops will get eaten again if I grow these next year.

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