Smorgasbord Blog Magazine – Food Column – Carol Taylor – A – Z of Food ‘R’ for Rice, Ras el Hanout, Rhubarb, Ricotta Cheese and Rice Noodles

The Culinary Alphabet, The Letter R.

Welcome to this months edition of the Culinary Alphabet, where I am bringing you ingredients and cooking terms beginning with the letter R

Starting with my favorite carb which is?    Rice

There are several grains called rice, which have been cultivated for thousands of years. Asian rice (Oryza sativa) is most widely known and most widely grown, with two major subspecies and over 40,000 varieties. When I first came to Thailand that is when I realized just how many different rices that there were and also colors. The main kinds of rice I cook with are Jasmine Rice, Brown Rice, Black Rice and sticky rice ( glutinous rice)…Thailand is also one of the major exporters of rice and it is the staple food for many here even the dogs eat rice…Mine will not touch dog biscuits or tinned food and many dogs here are the same…
Before I came to live in Thailand I had been on a few holidays here and liked to cook Thai food at home… Mainly it was a disaster I just couldn’t cook a bowl of nice fried rice…It was absolutely awful…

Since living here I have had a few lessons from my daughter in law as to the error of my ways and now I can make a stir fry and hold my head up amongst most Thai cooks.

I will now show you how to make the perfect fried rice

  • Rice must be cooked and cold so generally, if you have had rice the night before and have leftovers then it is a way to use it up.
  • That was my first big mistake and why I had clumpy rice which stuck to the pan and why I didn’t ever get that nice dry fried rice.
  • However, if you must use freshly steamed rice, just try to make sure your bowl of rice has cooled off and that it’s somewhat dried out before you get started.

Fried rice can include anything such as vegetables or little bits of leftover chicken or shrimp (prawns) and you can have a bowl of lovely fried rice to go with many a meal. Traditionally served here with sliced cucumber, spring (green) onions and a chili dip it is a dish many young children eat or maybe something eaten for a quick lunch or as an accompaniment to other dishes.

Fried Rice

Ingredients:

• 1.5 cups cooked cold rice
• 3/4 Spring Onions
• ¼ of white onion chopped
• 2/3 cloves of garlic chopped
• ½ leaves of Chinese cabbage or other cabbage ( optional)
• 1 Egg
• ½ tbsp Oyster Sauce
• ½ tbsp Soy Sauce

For chili Sauce in Thai Prik Nam Pla

Ingredients:

• 5 Thai chilies finely sliced
• 3 tbsp Fish Sauce
• ½ a fresh lime

If you are using shrimp( prawns) then start with the whole fresh shrimp, pinch of the head and de-shell the body leaving the tail on ( Thai style) at the same time try to retain that lovely shrimp oil from inside the head this is what gives your fried rice a wonderful red color and a nice rich flavor.

Let’s Cook!

Chilli and fish sauce

This little dish is always served alongside your Fried rice whenever you eat it in a restaurant…Just finely chop the chilies and add the fish sauce and a squeeze of lime. That’s it!

Making fried rice only takes about 15 minutes or less to make and this recipe serves ones.

All you need is a wok and a spatula. Serving more than 1 person just double up. The more you make this dish you will get a feel for it and will instinctively know how much of this and that you need just by taste.

  1. Firstly peel and finely chop your garlic.
  2. Slice about a quarter of your white onion
  3. Finely slice 3-4 green onions
  4. If you are using Chinese cabbage slice in half along the spine and then slice into 1 cm strips.
  5. Heat your wok or suitable pan and add about a tbsp of oil once your oil is hot add your garlic and stir fry continuously for about 15 seconds we don’t want burnt garlic do we?
  6. Throw in the shrimp and fry for about 30 seconds. Your shrimp should just start to turn pink then add just about less than half of your rice which will soak up all those lovely juices stir fry for about 10 seconds.
  7. Push all the rice to one side and crack the egg into the empty side swirl the egg and let it cook for a few seconds and then start to mix with the rice and shrimp. (This was my second big mistake I used to just pour the egg straight over the rice hence a claggy, clumpy mess which no one wanted to eat.)
  8. Then stir in the remainder of your rice and you should have a lovely dry fried rice with separate grains
  9. Now add your soy sauce and oyster sauce and stir, some people add a little sugar at this point. I don’t
  10. Now add your chopped Chinese cabbage and white onions and stir fry for about 30 seconds and then toss in your spring onions and stir for a few seconds a little longer if you like your vegetables a little softer.
  11. Place on a plate with a slice of lime and spring onion and your little bowl of chili dip.(If you want it to look extra special put it in a little bowl and turn out on the plate as pictured.)
  12. A little sprinkle of fish sauce and some fresh chilies on top of your fried rice with and an extra squeeze of lime just elevates your fried rice to another level.

Younger children, here are generally given just fried rice with egg and a little spring onion and maybe some very finely diced carrot. Fried rice is one of those dishes where anything goes. As little or as much as you like.

Sometimes if I have a few shrimp (prawns) or half a breast of chicken or a thigh leftover I bag them and they are ideal for 1 serving of fried rice. We all have leftover vegetables chop them and put in your fried rice. For one all you need is a small piece of carrot maybe a couple of peas or a floret of broccoli cut small and bobs your uncle and you have fried rice.

Truly anything goes it is one of those dishes where you really can add almost anything I suppose a bit like you would do when topping your pizza.
Enjoy!

Rhubarb

Image by Ulrike Leone from Pixabay

Of the rhubarb plant, only the stalks are eaten. These have a rich, tart flavor. The leaves of the rhubarb plant are poisonous, so be sure that they are not ingested. Rhubarb is easy to grow but needs cool weather to thrive. It is generally used as a fruit in desserts and jams, but my favorite being a pie or a crumble although Rhubarb is not readily available here it also pairs very nicely with oily fish like Mackerel.

The habit now is to eat all of the vegetables and the rhubarb leaves do look very tempting.

They are however poisonous …Do not eat…THEY SHOULD ALSO NOT BE COMPOSTED OR FED TO ANIMALS.

Ricotta Cheese

Ricotta curds are creamy white in appearance, and slightly sweet in taste. The fat content changes depending on the brand and the type of milk used In this form, it is somewhat similar in texture to some cottage cheese variants, though considerably lighter. It is also very easy to make at home.

Render

There are two basic ways to render fat: dry rendering and wet rendering. Their names are pretty self-explanatory and both methods are very similar. For any of those two methods, you can render fat either in a crock-pot, on the stovetop or in an oven. Animal fats like tallow, lard or poultry fat can be obtained very cheaply from your local butcher or farmer. With a little luck, you’ll probably even find a farmer willing to give it to you for free. Of course, it’s a good idea to try and get the fat from an animal that has been grass-fed and pastured. There is a lot of money to be saved there, especially when considering the rather high price of grass-fed butter, coconut oil, and olive oil.

Ramen Noodles

Have received a lot of adverse publicity and go from the very bad to the very good. Ramen Noodles …Should you be eating them?

Ramp

A ramp is a wild onion similar to a leek, it has a strong onion/garlic flavor. It is native to North America and is growing in popularity and can often be found at farmers markets. As ramps aren’t cultivated in the way leeks are, they’re much easier to clean: just cut off the roots, rinse thoroughly, and scrub off any excess dirt on the bulbs.

Fresh ramps aren’t available for very long in the spring, but you can chop and freeze them for later use in cooked dishes. The green tops are milder in flavor and are usually used along with the bulbs. Chop about half of the green leaves separately, air-dry them for a few hours, then freeze them in an air-tight container for future use as a seasoning. They make a great substitute for green onions (spring onions).

Raw Sugar

Raw sugar is cane sugar which has been minimally processed. In all cases, raw sugar is the product of the first stage of the cane sugar refining process, and as a result, it has some very distinctive characteristics. Given that raw sugar requires minimal processing, the raw sugar we consume today is probably very similar to that made in Asia hundreds of years ago. I am lucky in that raw sugar is freely available here both from sugar cane and from the Coconut.

Razor Clam

Razor clam is a common name for long, narrow, saltwater clams (which resemble a closed straight razor in shape), Personally, I haven’t cooked with them but they seem to feature quite prominently in many of the TV cooking shows.

Redeye Gravy

A southern gravy to which sometimes coffee is added to Pork dripping which is then served with biscuits…

Rice Noodles

Rice noodles are a staple here and come in many sizes from very thin to thick. Many are hand made or sold ready cooked at the market and are generally eaten with a hot spicy chili dip. This is a typical Thai meal with eggs, noodles, beansprouts, and other fresh vegetables, maybe some fish and always a spicy dip.

Rillette

Rillettes gets right to the heart of what’s good: pork, pork fat, salt, and pepper,” says chef Anthony Bourdain. “Easy and cheap to make, it’s one of the great casual starters of all time.” The French word rillettes is first recorded in 1845. It derives from the Old French rille, meaning a slice of pork, which is first attested in 1480. This is a dialect variation of the Old

French reille, meaning a lath or strip of wood, from the Latin regula. The word rillettes is thus cognate or linked with the English words’ rail, referring to railways, and ruler, meaning a straight strip of wood for measuring.

Radishes

Radishes are grown and consumed throughout the world, being mostly eaten raw as a crunchy salad vegetable with a bit of a bite. There are numerous varieties, varying in size, flavor, color, and length of time they take to mature.

They are sometimes grown as companion plants and suffer from few pests and diseases. They germinate quickly and grow rapidly, common smaller varieties being ready for consumption within a month, while larger daikon varieties take several months. Being easy to grow and quick to harvest, radishes are often planted by novice gardeners. Lovely lightly pickled as a garnish they are quite popular now …There is also a Radish Festival held in Oaxaca, Mexico on December 23rd called the Night of The Radishes where the most amazing radish carvings can be seen…It is quite an occasion…

Ras el Hanout

A Moroccan Spice Recipe…It plays a similar role in African cuisine as Masala does in Indian cuisine. It can be added to spice rubs, marinades, soups, and other recipes…It is one of the predominant spices in Tagines…

Chicken and Prune Tagine/Stew

Ingredients:

• 4 large chicken breasts, skinned and cut into cubes
• 1 tbsp Vegetable Oil I used coconut oil
• 1/2 tsp Ground Allspice
• 1/2 tsp fresh ground Black Pepper
• 1 tsp Ground Cinnamon
• 2 tsp Cumin Seeds
• 1/2 sp Ground Nutmeg
• 1 tsp Ground Turmeric
• 200g/7oz pitted Prunes
• 2 large Onions, sliced
• 1 tbsp freshly grated Ginger
• 3 Garlic Cloves, crushed
• Salt to taste
• 14fl.oz fresh Chicken Stock

Let’s Cook!

  1. Heat the oil in a large heavy-bottomed pan then add the chicken pieces and brown on all sides.
  2. Add the spices, garlic, ginger, and onions and cook stirring over medium heat until the onions have softened.
  3. Add the stock and season with salt then bring to a slow rolling boil and reduce the heat to very low, cover and cook for about one-hour stirring occasionally.
  4. At the end of the cooking remove the lid and increase the heat to reduce the sauce.
    Serve with rice or couscous.
  5. The other concession I made was to use white rice instead of brown less for them to object to, aha. Told you I was sneaky!

The verdict

Everyone including little Lily loved it. After they had expressed their delight and hubby said he thought the black things were mushrooms(shitake) and grandson asked for more I confessed the dish contained prunes, a dish I will definitely make again even I was pleasantly surprised given the lack of chilli and some of the spices used. The biggest plus is now the grandkids will try dishes with prunes.

Changes next time: I would use chicken thighs and legs and maybe add a little chilli but it was very nice but would definitely use prunes in a savory dish again with no hesitation.

Thank you so much for reading this and please as always let me have your thoughts as I love your comments…Next time the letter ‘S’…..Have a great week xxx

About Carol Taylor

Enjoying life in The Land Of Smiles I am having so much fun researching, finding new, authentic recipes both Thai and International to share with you. New recipes gleaned from those who I have met on my travels or are just passing through and stopped for a while. I hope you enjoy them.

I love shopping at the local markets, finding fresh, natural ingredients, new strange fruits and vegetables ones I have never seen or cooked with. I am generally the only European person and attract much attention and I love to try what I am offered and when I smile and say Aroy or Saab as it is here in the north I am met with much smiling.

Some of my recipes may not be in line with traditional ingredients and methods of cooking but are recipes I know and have become to love and maybe if you dare to try you will too. You will always get more than just a recipe from me as I love to research and find out what other properties the ingredients I use have to improve our health and wellbeing.

Exciting for me hence the title of my blog, Retired No One Told Me! I am having a wonderful ride and don’t want to get off, so if you wish to follow me on my adventures, then welcome! I hope you enjoy the ride also and if it encourages you to take a step into the unknown or untried, you know you want to…….Then, I will be happy!

Carol is a contributor to the Phuket Island Writers Anthology Amazon US

Connect to Carol – Blog: Carol Cooks 2 – Twitter: @CarolCooksTwo – Facebook: Carol Taylor

My thanks to Carol for sharing this series with us as she also works on her cookbook and novel this year…As always we are delighted to receive your feedback and if you could share that would be great.. thanks Sally.

39 thoughts on “Smorgasbord Blog Magazine – Food Column – Carol Taylor – A – Z of Food ‘R’ for Rice, Ras el Hanout, Rhubarb, Ricotta Cheese and Rice Noodles

  1. Oh, I loved the letter R. Rice and rice noodles always staples. Love the recipe for the popular Moroccan dish. I was under the impression that dish was cooked in the vessel it was made in? Good to know we can do it stove top. Yum girls! ❤ xx

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Whenever I click on your alphabetic approach to food, I know I’ll find something unfamiliar. In this case, it was Ras el Hanout and ramp. Thank you both, Carol and Sally for spreading the good word here on culinary delights – some not so much!

    Grandma Fannie had a rhubarb patch behind her house. Both my Grandma and Mother made delicious rhubarb sauce. We never ate the leaves, which I didn’t know are poisonous. 😉

    Liked by 3 people

  3. Pingback: Smorgasbord Blog Magazine – Weekly Round Up – September 13th – 19th 2020 – Jazz, Ricotta Cheese, Risotto, Collies, books, reviews and funnies | Smorgasbord Blog Magazine

  4. One of the food things that happened during our severe lockdown in New Zealand was that I could not get my regular grocery ordering system easily, so I swapped over to an essential food box – where the choice wasn’t mine. It was interesting, I had to upskill on a number of food stuffs. But each box came with many interesting food stuffs + always “a kg each of rice, dried pasta, potatoes”. One of the rice varieties was Calrose which is a type of sticky rice – it took me ages to find a good way to make it, and get over the stickiness of it. But in the end, quite liked it. The last 2 boxes was a long grain rice – not so nice.Going to stop getting the boxes as the variety isn’t as interesting…and I can get my food from the other ordering system now. But I still have around 1.5 kg or rice and 1 kg of pasta…and let’s not talk about the large packets of porridge oats!

    I’ll be checking your alphabet of food … as I’ve have come to love making new things at home.

    Liked by 2 people

I would be delighted to receive your feedback (by commenting, you agree to Wordpress collecting your name, email address and URL) Thanks Sally

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