Friday, December 3, 2010

Iron Foodie 2010: "Blasphemous" Guanciale Fennel Fried Rice

Voting begins 6am PST on Dec. 7 and ends midnight PST Dec. 15. Vote here! Best of luck to everyone!

When I received the box of mystery ingredients from Marx Foods, I was at a loss on how I'd like to use them. Yet, the answer came in a moment of inspiration, a place where my past and my present intersected.

The box contained:

Dried aji panca chiles
Bourbon vanilla beans
Fennel pollen
Dried wild porcini mushrooms
Tellicherry Peppercorns
Dulse seaweed
Maple sugar
Smoked salt

Upon first glance, I knew I wasn't likely to use the mushrooms (very meh on them) or the smoked salt (too pungent). I also knew I was definitely doing something with fennel. As luck would have it, our CSA box would include fresh fennel. I had a few good suggestions... D. wanted to do something sweet, like a cupcake. My coworker G. suggested a dish that would feature a savory crème anglaise with the vanilla beans. I thought about pizza.

It was in a Twitter conversation with the delightful Jun of Jun-blog that fried rice came up. I mentioned that I liked to put guanciale and tomatoes in fried rice. Since I grew up with my mother's very simple and delicious fried rice (eggs, garlic, salt, rice, and scallions), it seemed blasphemous.

Jun replied, "That's not blasphemy, it's innovation!"

And so... my entry for Iron Foodie 2010 was born. Guanciale from Salumi in Seattle, produce from our Be Wise Ranch CSA box and D.'s Roma tomato plant, and spices from Marx Foods. It suits my cooking style because I like straightforward recipes that showcase the ingredients.

This was effin' good.

There's the egg with fragrant Jasmine rice. Bits of guanciale. Softened tomatoes and fennel toasted with garlic, shallot, and aji panca chile. Topped with chives and a bit of toasted dulse seaweed with fennel pollen.

Can't have fried rice without some kind of onion-esque flavor. For me, tradition means scallions, but this time, I used shallots and chives. Tradition or not, fried rice cannot exist without a bit of garlic. And lastly, day-old (or older) rice is vital. Fresh rice will turn out mushy, so it definitely needs to be cooked a day ahead.

"Blasphemous" Guanciale Fennel Fried Rice

Fried Rice
3 cups cooked day-old Jasmine (or long-grain) rice
3 large eggs, beaten
1/4 cup diced guanciale
1/3 cup thinly sliced fresh fennel
1/2 cup whole cherry tomatoes
2 small Roma tomatoes, sliced and seeded
1/2 small shallot, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon minced garlic
2 tablespoons chives
1 dried Aji Panca chile, crushed into very small pieces, seeds removed
1 tablespoon oil (I use olive, but any cooking oil will do)
Ground Tellicherry peppercorns, to taste
Kosher salt, to taste

Seaweed topping
1/4 cup loosely packed Dulse seaweed (about 2-3 leaves)
2 teaspoons fennel pollen

Preheat oven (preferably a toaster oven) to 200 degrees F.

Place Dulse seaweed on metal pan and toast in oven for about 5 minutes. Watch it very carefully as it will burn. Turn off the oven and allow seaweed to cool. Carefully break into large chips. Toss with fennel pollen and set aside.

Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large nonstick wok or nonstick skillet with high walls. Add guanciale and cook until the fat is translucent. Add garlic, shallots, and chile and cook until shallots are soft. Be careful not to burn the garlic. Add the fennel and tomatoes and saute until soft without mashing the tomatoes too much. Add a big pinch of kosher salt. Add the eggs and gently scrape the pan as they cook to prevent forming a cake of egg. As the egg cooks to the point of wet and runny scrambled eggs, add the rice and break up any large chunks. Toss until egg fully coats the rice and all ingredients are incorporated. Season with ground Tellicherry peppercorns. If need be, add a little more salt.

Serve in bowls topped with chives, seaweed chips, and fennel pollen.

Like this recipe? Then vote for me here! Thanks for your support!

Iron Foodie 2010 | Here's Why that will be me: -- Fine Bulk Foods The Foodie BlogRoll

9 bites:

Thistlemoon said...

A wonderful and comforting dish! I agree about the innovation! Best of luck in the polls and thanks for participating!

Anonymous said...

I like this, I love fried rice and had never thought of adding tomatoes to it. Great entry!

Jun Belen said...

WOW! You had me at guanciale and then you topped it with toasted Dulse seaweeds... I have to make this soon! Like tomorrow for lunch!

True innovation!

Coco cooks said...

What's more perfect than a flavorful bowl af fried rice. And the Guanciale amps it up to even more perfection. Well done

kirbie said...

I wouldn't have thought to make fried rice with those ingredients.Looks yummy. Good luck with the competition!

Heather said...

Blasphemous maybe, but definitely gorgeous and delicious looking!! I would eat this any day. :)

elizabeth @the manhattan food project said...

What a creative dish! I've only had guanciale in the classic pasta alla gricia which was divine--I never thought to have it in fried rice!

You got my vote!

Meandering Eats said...

Hey everyone! I just wanted to belatedly thank you for your kind words. I didn't win, but I had a lot of fun. Thanks to Jenn for hosting the contest along with Marx Foods and to Coco and Chefyourself for making great dishes!

Jun, this dish wouldn't have happened without you! Kirbie, Heather, and Elizabeth... THANK YOU!

Heather said...

Blasphemous maybe, but definitely gorgeous and delicious looking!! I would eat this any day. :)

9 bites