Thursday, May 15, 2008

Almost as Good as...the Japanese Steakhouse

My family loves Japanese Steakhouse food, and whenever we're in the mood for live fire at the table and real fried rice, we head to one of the three local restaurants. I'm not sure how authentically Japanese these types of places are, but they can be relied on for a refreshing salad with ginger dressing, tasty fried rice, flash-cooked meats and the ubiquitous orange sherbet for dessert.
In past attempts to replicate this meal at home, I've stumbled on the fried rice. My version always comes out watery or mushy, with nubbits of cooked gray egg. I wanted fluffy, separate grains of rice, sesasoned with salty soy and dotted with bright green peas and diced carrots and just tiniest bit of yellow scrambled egg. From my cookbooks and online research, I learned that the rice must be cooked in advanced and cooled. This was fortunate, because I had cooked too much white rice for a meal earlier in the week. I pulled it out of the fridge early in the afternoon and spread it out onto a paper towel-lined cookie sheet and topped with more paper towels. When I was ready to cook, the rice was dry and separate, enough to please even Uncle Ben.
Thursday's Menu
Edamame in the Pod
Green Salad with Ginger Vinaigrette
Fried Rice with Teriyaki Glazed Chicken
Sliced Oranges

Ginger Vinaigrette

In measuring cup, combine 1/4 cup rice wine vinegar, 2 teaspoons sugar, 2 tablespoons soy sauce and 2 teaspoons dark sesame oil; set aside. In food processor, with blade running, drop in 2 peeled garlic cloves, a 2-inch piece of peeled ginger, 1 bunch of green onions, cleaned and trimmed, all of the whites and two inches of the greens. Follow with vinegar mixture and then slowly pour in 1/3 cup safflower oil.

Fried Rice

Slice one 1-lb. package of chicken cutlets into strips and marinate in 1/2 portion of Golden Teriyaki Glaze

4 cups cooked white rice, cooled and dried on paper towels
1/2 white onion, chopped
2 carrots, diced
1/2 cup frozen green peas
4 tablespoons canola oil, separated
2 eggs, stirred
soy sauce

1. Put diced carrots in microwave-safe bowl with a couple tablespoons water. Cover and microwave for one minute. Remove from microwave.

2. In large skillet or wok, heat two tablespoons oil until shimmery. Remove chicken strips from marinade and cook in batches, turning after two minutes, so that each side is cooked through. Discard marinade. Set aside cooked chicken.

3. Remove pan from heat and clean it thoroughly. Reheat pan and add remaining 2 tablespoons oil, heating until shimmery. Add onion, cooking until limp and transparent. Add carrots and frozen green peas, cooking just until peas thaw.

4. Pour eggs over veggies and scramble. Push egg mixture to side of pan and add rice, gradually incorporating all together. Add a healthy portion of soy sauce, using caution to avoid oversalting. Push rice to half of pan and add chicken, continuing to heat the chicken through. Mix all together. This is the time to add pepper, although, if you're serving young children, you may want to remove their portions before grinding in a good 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon of cracked black pepper.

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