Sunday, 13 April 2014

Oh Baby- It's Rice!

Piccoli "Bok Choi", Fiocche di Riso, Pepe & Pancetta
Baby Bok-Choi, Rice Flakes, Peppers & Bacon

I know, you are thinking to yourselves, "Hey! Who are you calling "baby", eh?", but no, I am not being overly-familiar with any of you, I am much more referring to these tiny and delicious, little baby Bok Choi! Aren't they just adorable?

And you may even be thinking, "Rice? I don't see any rice!", but there it is, right before your eyes! Nope, these are nice rice noodles, not as such... and maybe you have seen them before- but it had been a while since I had last prepared them and so here they were again, those weird and wonderful "rice flakes"!

I saw the baby bok choi on Mrs. Wong's stand in the Frankfurt Market Hally yesterday... and although it was almost sad to take those innocent little babies, right there at the verge of their prime... I did it! I mean- regular bok choi is small and tender enough, but these little babies were just so adorable! I had to have them!

So, supper this evening consisted of 10 baby bok choi, a red pointy pepper, a Spring onion, a little ginger, 2 handfuls of rice flakes, a handful of finely chopped bacon and a handful of fresh cilantro. And about 20 minutes of cooking time. Which isn't bad going!

This was another of those meals where I improvised and multi-tasked and managed to cut down work and time and wash-up considerably- just by using a little common-sense. The first thing I did was to pop the bok choi into my steamer and get them started and although it is not traditionally an Asian thing to do, I did sprinkle mine with a little salt.

Whilst that was happening, I quickly chopped up the pepper, ginger and Spring onion. All the while I had boiled up a little more water in my electric kettle for those funky rice flakes- and they were next on my list!

I prepared them by simply pouring boiling water over them and within just 5 minutes or so, they re-hydrated and swelled to almost twice their size. I carefully poured off the water, as there was a lot of starch in it from the re-hydrating and I didn't want them to stick together to much.

The next thing I did was to take the lid off the bock choi and to flip them over, then drop the rice flakes into the water in the saucepan before putting the greens and the lid back on top... THIS is what I mean by multi-tasking and time saving!

After just 5 minutes, the rice flakes could again be drained and set to one side, leaving me free to take care of the bok choi, which I popped into a frying pan with a little sesame oil, where I let them sizzle away for a few minutes more and become slightly glazed and sweet and delicious. 

Once the bok choi was done, I laid it out on a serving plate and it to one side, on the steamer, where it could remain warm for the last few minutes before serving...

Next, the bacon, ginger and sliced pepper went into the pan with the heat cranked up high and I gave everything a good shake and stir-fry until the bacon was beginning to crisp-up, the peppers had a nice shiny glaze and the ginger was also just starting to gain a little color.

I then added the rice flakes along with the last bit of water that had drained from them, and with a brief blast of steam, the pan was suddenly deglazed and all of the flavor of the peppers and bacon came up from the bottom of the pan and immediately colored the rice flakes a nice, rich golden color- which was of course filled with salty bacon flavor and the sweetness of the sweetness of the red pepper.

I seasoned with a splash of Thai fish sauce, a little chili oil and a squeeze of lime juice and then added the Spring onion and half of the cilantro, which I chopped nice and finely, so that it could be stirred-in more easily and would coat the rice flakes nicely and give them that refreshing, clean flavor... delicious!

I served the pepper rice-flakes on top of the bok choi and finished everything nicely with a drizzle of oyster sauce and a sprinkle of toasted sesame seeds.

Another un-Asian meal using Asian ingredients and a little of my own kitchen-insanity... it was just bound to work out well!

So Supper was what I jokingly referred to as "a Vegetarian meal- with bacon"... but that little bit of bacon did make all the difference... for me at least! There is just something wonderful about the flavor and the aroma of bacon and onions frying together... don't hate me for it! But of course you CAN make this in a purely Vegetarian version, without the bacon- maybe adding mushrooms if you feel something is missing... it's all good!

But you know... I really DO like that bacon! ;-)

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