Friday Foodblogging: Grilled Rice

Grilled rice

My friend Chris Brogan enjoys making the joke, “It’d be like grilling rice”, a way of suggesting that an effort is futile or highly impractical. Conceptually, grilling rice does seem absurd.

Why would you ever attempt something like grilling rice? If you’ve ever been to a hibachi grill, you’ve likely had the fried rice made on the grill. If you’ve ever been to a Korean restaurant and ordered a stone pot bibimbap, you’ve had the same type of rice. Rice fried at very high temperatures develops a wonderful crispy exterior and amazing flavor as the starches and sugars undergo the Maillard reaction.

Creating the same kind of food on the stovetop takes a long time and often yields underwhelming results because stovetops just don’t get hot enough. Unlike your stovetop, a good grill – gas or charcoal – can reach very high temperatures, sometimes in excess of 800 degrees. That’s hot enough to create the Maillard reaction quickly, so that the rice doesn’t dry out and become tough.

Thus, we should grill our rice! Of course, the logical question is, how do you prevent it from falling through the grill grating? The answer is: don’t put it on the grill grating. Put it on a baking sheet.

Here’s the recipe for an amazing fried rice at home, on the grill.

Ingredients

  • Japanese short grain sushi rice or any other sticky rice, 8 cups cooked
  • Sesame oil, 1 tsp
  • Soy sauce, 4 tbsp
  • Sugar, 1 tbsp
  • Butter, unsalted, 1 tbsp
  • Peanut or other high-heat tolerant vegetable oil, 1 tbsp
  • Sesame seeds

Procedure

  1. Cook the rice in a rice cooker according to the manufacturer’s directions.
  2. Let the rice cool until you can comfortably handle it, about 120F/49C.
  3. Pre-heat your grill to high.
  4. While the rice cools, melt the butter.
  5. Combine melted butter, sesame oil, and vegetable oil together.
  6. Brush a large baking sheet with 2/3 of the mixed oil. Reserve 1/3.
  7. Mix soy sauce and sugar together in a small cup until the sugar is dissolved.
  8. Fold sesame seeds into the cooled rice.
  9. Spread the rice over the baking sheet in a thin, compact layer. Press down to ensure it’s compacted.
  10. Using a brush, lightly spread the remaining oil over the surface of the rice after it’s spread over the baking sheet.
  11. Place the baking sheet on the grill and grill for 3-5 minutes until the bottom of the rice turns a light brown. Do not let it burn!
  12. Once the first side is lightly browned, use a spatula and flip portions of the rice like burgers to the other side.
  13. Cook the second side until lightly browned.
  14. Lightly drizzle the soy sauce on the cooked rice while it is still on the grill.
  15. Remove rice from grill immediately and serve.

The key to this recipe is the rice. If you use a long grain, non-sticky rice, you’re going to have a really bad time. Sticky rices form patties, essentially, making the rice much easier to cook on the grill.

Enjoy this recipe!


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Friday foodblogging: savory oatmeal

I’ve never been a fan of sweet flavors for breakfast. It’s just not my thing. I’ve especially never been a fan of sweetening hot cereals like oatmeal and farina. No matter what my mother or grandmother did, adding more sugar or honey didn’t make the experience less unpleasant.

As I got older, I realized that I preferred more savory tastes. I’d take a plate of bacon and eggs over a box of doughnuts any day, because I prefer the savory, saltier flavors to start the day.

Once you hit a certain age, your doctor recommends foods like oatmeal more vigorously. Oatmeal is good for you: tons of dietary fiber, beta-glucan polysaccharides that can reduce blood cholesterol, relatively low caloric density as is. So it’s good for you, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it tastes good.

So how do you make something that’s good taste good to someone like me without ruining its health benefits? The answer turned out to be adding completely different flavoring. Instead of using sugar, I now make my oatmeal with savory ingredients. Here’s my recipe:

Savory Oatmeal

Ingredients

  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic or onion powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon chicken bouillon
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper, feel free to substitute Sriracha if you want to turn up the heat
  • 1/4 cup quick rolled oats
  • 1/2 – 1 cup of water, depending on how you like your oatmeal

Savory Oatmeal

Directions

  1. Put everything in a bowl or pot.
  2. Stir.
  3. Microwave or heat to boiling.
  4. Stir.
  5. Let rest for 1-2 minutes.
  6. Stir. Add water if needed to achieve desired consistency, then stir again.

Nutrition

  • 1/4 cup oats: 75 calories
  • Chicken bouillon, 1 tsp: 2.5 calories, 400mg sodium
  • Garlic, onion, black pepper: no nutritional value or calories

If you have the space and appropriate storage, you can use liquid chicken stock instead of bouillon; I use the powder only because it’s much easier to store at the office and doesn’t spoil. You can, of course, use any other soup base as well, such as aji-memmu, miso, curry, etc. You’ll note that this recipe is also super-low-calorie. The oatmeal is the only substantial contributor of calories.

If you’re not a fan of sweet-flavored oatmeals, try this instead! It might just get you eating oatmeal again.


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Travel Day: DIY Sodastream Soda Maker

David B. Thomas inquired, based on a Facebook post I’d made a month or so ago, about how hard it was to make your own Sodastream-like machine at home. The answer is, not terribly hard – and much more cost effective in the long run.

One of my annoyances at the Sodastream I owned was that I had to change out the canister every month or so; it made about 30 liters of carbonated water, which was okay. The cost per liter was about 50 cents a liter, which is still a savings over the grocery store.

In typical hacker fashion, I asked, what if I could do this myself? What if there were better gear? It turns out that of course, there is significantly better gear to be had – from the beer world. Beer kegs tap CO2 and/or nitrogen all the time to add that last little punch to a brew. The equipment is surprisingly simple.

What you need:

– A CO2 canister. Most welding shops carry these. I paid $100 for a 10 pound canister. Unlike a Sodastream, this should let me make between a liter and two liters of soda per day for over a year, possibly close to two years.

– A length of hose with clamps to connect the tank to…

– A pressure gauge regulator. This tells you how much pressure is in the tank, and lets you set the pressure for your soda water. I usually set mine to 40 PSI.

– A ball lock and hose. This goes from the regulator to your bottle of soda and connects to…

– The Carbonator. This plugs into the ball lock and is what connects your soda bottle to the whole business.

– A used soda bottle, clean and free of cracks. This is the best part: you get to recycle. Sodastream bottles aren’t dishwasher safe, so over time they can get nasty, and of course, buying a new one costs a fair bit for what’s essentially just a plastic bottle. A used soda bottle obviously can hold soda (at much higher pressures), so recycle!

When put together in order, you get this:

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The trick with making soda at home is to have the water be ice, ice cold. I usually fill the soda bottle with about two cups of fresh water and then place horizontally in the freezer. This makes a giant ice cube. Once thoroughly frozen, fill to the point where the side of the soda bottle begins to curve. Then attach to the carbonator, turn on your gas, and shake vigorously while the CO2 dissolves in the water. After a minute of vigorous shaking, turn off the gas, remove the bottle, and enjoy!

Enjoy your DIY sodastream maker!


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