I still make the effort, though, to make simple dishes from scratch whenever I can. Maybe because I bought a new rice cooker a few weeks ago, we’ve been consuming a lot of rice-friendly dishes lately. I always cook more steamed white rice than we can finish, so the next day I can turn it into fried rice, which is fast and easy and makes a good packed lunch.
I’ve learned to keep certain condiments handy: sesame oil, sesame seeds (I prefer the black ones—they look so much more dramatic), green onions, frozen green peas, garlic cloves in soy sauce, lop cheung (Chinese sausage), and salmon belly strips (available from my local Filipino grocery store for a few dollars a bag). All of these make tasty additions to fried rice.
I’ve also learned anew that good food doesn’t have to be fussy, elaborate, or expensive. Even on a tight budget, with the simplest of ingredients, you can still eat well.
2 cups cold cooked jasmine rice
4 salmon belly strips
1 teaspoon coarse sea salt
2 cloves garlic (fresh or cured in soy sauce), minced
1 thumb-sized piece of ginger, peeled and minced
1 tablespoon vegetable oil2 sprigs green onions, cut into thirds and julienned
1 tablespoon black sesame seeds
1/4 teaspoon sesame oil
While the salmon is cooking, heat half the vegetable oil in a non-stick skillet or wok. Break the eggs into a small bowl and beat lightly with a fork. When the oil is hot, pour in the eggs and cook, turning repeatedly, until just set. Remove the eggs from the pan and place in the same bowl you scrambled them in. Set aside.
Add the remaining vegetable oil to the pan and sauté the minced garlic and ginger until fragrant and lightly golden. Add the rice (sprinkle with a little water if it’s clumped together) and stir to distribute the garlic and ginger.
When the rice is heated through, add the scrambled eggs and sesame seeds and drizzle on the sesame oil. Make sure everything is mixed together well.
Serve the rice with the salmon bellies on top, garnished with the green onions.