Sunday, April 11, 2021

Oven Fried Rice

I had an interesting conversation with my son the other day about his disappointment with making Fried Rice. He was really wanting the Rice to be a bit more crispy. I told him that traditionally you have to use a wok on very high heat to get the Rice crisp and that using a nonstick frying pan just wasn't going to give you that result. I told him that we should try making Fried Rice in the oven as that's one way of adding that extra heat that an electric stove can't give you. We finally made it today and you can see our results - mine is the photo above with Peas and his is the one with Egg below. Both have bits of Ham and Green Onion and were seasoned the Rice with Salt, Pepper and a little GF Tamari. We cooked them on two different sheet pans. He was delighted with the results because cooking the Rice mixture on a baking sheet gave him a lot more of the crispy bits!

So here are the important things to remember about cooking Rice this way - first, make sure you use leftover Rice that has been stored at least a few hours (preferably overnight) in the refrigerator as this dries the Rice out and assists in making it crispy. If you forgot to store your cooked Rice and have to make some fresh to use, you can still use it, but I would cook the Rice for longer and you will have more chewy bits. Secondly, cook the Rice in the oven first by itself, before adding the other ingredients or they will get too dried out. I cooked the Rice, then I added the Green Onions, chopped Ham and Peas. Finally, add the GF Tamari (or Soy Sauce) at the end so that there isn't a burnt flavor and you can add the Eggs at this point too. If you want to spice it up, it's better to add some Chili Sauce when you eat it. Remember that Fried Rice has always been about using up leftover Rice, Meat and Vegetables to create a new meal, so feel free to get creative about what you add. Just make sure that the ingredients are not too wet or you will take away the crispness of the Fried Rice made this way. It's definitely a new way of making Fried Rice and it is delicious!

Oven Fried Rice

3 - 4 cups leftover, cold, cooked Rice

3 - 4 Green Onions, trimmed and minced

½ cup minced, cooked Meat of your choice (Ham is most traditional)

1/3 cup frozen Peas

1 -  2 lightly scrambled Eggs

3 Tablespoons Vegetable Oil

1 - 2 Tablespoons Tamari or Soy Sauce

Salt and Pepper to taste


Heat the oven to 475 degrees.  


Pour 2 Tablespoons of the Oil over a large sheet pan. Place the Rice on top and sprinkle with Salt and Pepper. Toss to coat with a spatula. Put the sheet pan in the oven and cook for 10 minutes.  


Remove the pan from the oven and turn the Rice over. Sprinkle with more Salt and Pepper and the additional Tablespoon of Oil. Add in the Green Onions, Meat and Peas. Return to the oven and cook for an additional 10 minutes.  

Remove the pan from the oven and toss the Rice mixture again and add in the Egg pieces cutting them into smaller pieces with the Spatula. Sprinkle with the Tamari and toss to coat. Return to the oven for an additional 4 - 5 minutes.  Serve immediately.

Five Element Analysis

Rice (since it is White) is considered a Metal grain. The Tamari and Egg and Ham contribute the Water Element. The Green Onions add a little bit of the Wood Element, but they also contribute the Metal Element. The Peas bring in more of the Wood Element. The Fire Element is only found in the Black Pepper and the Earth Element is missing. So serve this dish with some Hot Tea for the Fire Element and be sure to serve an Earthy food to go with it to create a Five Element balance. I served it with a Cucumber Salad as that added in more Earth and the Vinegar contributed some more Wood. 

Saturday, April 10, 2021

Baked Scallops

I bought a big bag of frozen Scallops from Costco that I needed to use up as my freezer was becoming very crowded. I thawed them out overnight in the refrigerator and dried them off. I then decided to try baking them instead of my usual pan searing, as I wanted them to cook all at once instead of in two batches. I topped them with a savory Gluten Free Panko topping. The Sauce I used is my usual one of Butter, Shallots, Lemon Juice and White Wine.  Not only was this a really easy way of cooking Scallops, they also turned out perfectly. I loved the crisp topping that contrasted with the softness of the Scallops - they were delicious! I encourage you to try making Scallops this way and I think you will be surprised at the result!

Baked Scallops

1 pound of Scallops, patted dry with paper towels

3 Tablespoons salted Butter

2 Tablespoons minced Shallot

2 Tablespoons Lemon Juice

2 Tablespoons dry White Wine

1/3 cup Gluten Free Panko

1/3 teaspoon Garlic Powder

Salt and Pepper to taste

Heat the oven to 425 degrees

Place the Scallops (touching) in an 8 - or 9 inch square or round baking pan and season lightly with Salt and Pepper on both sides.

Put the Gluten Free Panko in a small bowl and add the Garlic Powder and a little Salt. 

In a small frying pan, melt the Butter and then remove 1 Tablespoon to pour into the Panko mixture, stirring to mix. 

Add the Shallots to the remaining Butter and cook until lightly softened. Then add in the Lemon Juice and White Wine and bring to a boil. Turn off the heat. Pour over and around the Scallops.

Spoon the Panko on top of the Scallops. Put the pan into the oven and cook for 15 minutes. Check to see if the topping is browned. If not, turn on the broiler and watch carefully for another 1 - 2 minutes or until the topping is nicely browned.  

Five Element Analysis

Scallops belong to the Water Element. The Lemon Juice brings in a little of the Wood Element and the Wine contributes a bit of the Fire Element. The Shallots add the Metal Element as does the Butter and since the GF Panko is made mostly of Rice Flour, that adds even more Metal. Only the Earth Element is missing, so this dish would be good served with Potatoes or another Earthy vegetable and other sides dishes containing Wood and Fire foods would ensure a balanced Five Element meal. 

Friday, April 9, 2021

Russian Potato Salad


For Easter dinner, I wanted to have a side to the main course that involved Peas. I shelled and cooked a bunch yesterday (ordered luckily by mistake) and had about 1/2 cup left over. I was also craving Potato Salad, so I decided to make one that I haven't had in years - Russian Potato Salad. It's often called Olivier Salad, created by a Belgian chef in Moscow and apparently had a lot of expensive ingredients bound together by Mayonnaise. It has since evolved to become a Salad of diced, cooked Potatoes and Carrots, Peas, Pickles and usually hard-boiled Eggs. Meat can also be added - usually bits of Sausage (Knockwurst style), Ham, Beef or Chicken, but some people add cut up Hotdogs or Bologna. It's quite popular around the world and I first had it when my Mom's friend from Argentina made it and she called it Salad Russe.  I've had it many other times and have seen other ingredients like pickled Beets added, which makes it a delightful pink color. I've also had it in Mexico City and in many places around Europe.  

It's quite easy to make if you use store bought Mayonnaise. All you have to do is boil some chunks of Potato and add in a cut up Carrot towards the end of the cooking time. I had leftover Peas, but you can easily use thawed frozen Peas. You then cut up some Gherkin Pickles (I actually had a Russian brand in my pantry) and add cut up Eggs and Meat if you are using them. I like to flavor the Mayonnaise with a bit of the Pickle juice to make it thinner, sprinkle with Salt and Pepper and toss it all together. The traditional recipe doesn't add any Onion, but I think Red Onion is a nice addition, but I do recommend soaking the Red Onion pieces in a bit of hot, salted water to draw out the sharpness. I didn't add any Eggs or Meat to make it a bit lighter. In any case, it's a beautiful Potato Salad and it's also very delicious!

Russian Potato Salad

3 medium large Potatoes, peeled and cut into 2 - 3 inch chunks

1 large or 2 smaller Carrots, peeled and cut into several segments

1/2 cup cooked or frozen and thawed Peas

1/2 cup of chopped Gherkin Pickles (can also use Dill Pickles)

3/4 - 1 cup Mayonnaise (use more if adding Eggs, Meat or Beets)

1 Tablespoon Pickle Juice

1/4 teaspoon Sugar

1/4 teaspoon or more of Salt

fresh ground Pepper to taste

Optional:  1/4 cup minced Red Onion, soaked in hot, salted Water for 10 minutes

Optional:  1 - 2 hardboiled Eggs, chopped

Optional: 1/2 cup diced cooked Ham, Roast Beef, cooked Chicken or Sausage

Optional:  1/2 cup diced Pickled Beets

Place the Potatoes in a small pot and cover with Water. Bring to a boil and reduce the heat to a simmer. Cook for 15 minutes. Then add in the Carrot and continue cooking for another 5 minutes. Drain and cut up the Potatoes and Carrots into small chunks only slightly bigger than the Peas.

Place the Potato and Carrot pieces in a bowl and add the Peas and Pickles (and Eggs or Meat or Red Onion, if using). Sprinkle with Salt and Pepper. In a bowl, mix together the Mayonnaise, Sugar and Pickle Juice and pour over the Potato mixture. Stir with a large spoon to coat all the ingredients. Place in the refrigerator to chill for at least 30 minutes or overnight. 

Five Element Analysis

Potatoes and Carrots both belong to the Earth Element. Peas and Pickles add in the Wood Element. Mayonnaise contributes both Water (from the Eggs) and since it is also White and a created Sauce, it brings in the Metal Element too. If you add Onion, you bring in even more Metal. If you use Ham, it adds more Water, Beef adds more Earth and Chicken adds more Wood. So as a side dish, it contributes a good amount of both Earth and Wood to a meal and some Metal too.