Cold Food on Hot Food: I Want To Go To There
During a recent brainstorming exercise I wrote a list of my favorite meals. Here’s part of that list:
- Cheeseburger with Toasted Bun, Lettuce, Tomato, Pickle, Red Onion and Mayo
- Tostados, like these
- Boiled Perogies with Bacon, Onions and a Rather Large Dollop of Sour Cream
- Pad Thai topped with Crunchy Bean Sprouts, Cilantro and Lime
- Sliced Grilled Skirt Steak on Salad with a Creamy Black Pepper Dressing
- Chicken Souvlaki in a Pita with Tomatoes, Olives, Tzatzki, Onions and Feta
- Biryani (of any kind) with lots of Raita Spooned Over Top
- Lasagna and Caesar Salad
- Peking Duck in Little Pancakes with Hoisin Sauce and Long Spears of Spring Onion and Cucumber
As I was writing I started paying attention to my inner monologue. It went something like this:
Oh god how I love those crunchy red onions and that cold bite of pickle in a burger…Mmmm…Tostados with cold tomato and corn, warm cheese and meat…I. Want. Now…Oh my, that blast of cool fresh sour cream on perogies makes my life worth living…Please oh please don’t ever leave those twisty bits of fresh crunch off of my pad thai…What’s better than steak for dinner? Lettuce and steak sharing a fork…I want to drizzled tzatziki over everything I eat, even oatmeal…Oh and raita. I could put raita on my oatmeal too…hot tomato sauce, gooey cheese and cold garlicky romaine leaves. I’m making that for dinner tonight. Can’t. Wait….Rich duck with sticky hoisin and that bite of fresh cukes and spring onions.
I want to go to there!
What I noticed was that I’m particularly drawn to dishes that have both hot and cold parts. A new Side Dish Solution was born!
You may recall my theory from last week that one spectacular side dish can make an otherwise boring meal totally unboring. Here is another example. Steam, roast or stir fry some brocoli. Put some chicken breasts or a bit of salmon into the oven (a dash of soy sauce and black pepper to season before cooking wouldn’t hurt) and then make this easy cold-on-hot rice dish.
So easy. So good. While the rice cooks, toast the sesame seeds and chop up the cukes and chives. The whole dish comes together in 20 minutes.
Serves 4 as a side dish
- 1 cup long grain rice
- 1 tsp sesame oil
- 2 cups cold water
- 1/2 tsp kosher salt, divided
- 2 tsp sesame seeds
- 3 inches of cucumber, chopped (about 1/2 cup once chopped)
- 1/4 cup chopped chives
- 1 tsp fresh lime juice
- Combine the rice, sesame oil, water and 1/4 teaspoon of the salt in a small sauce pan that has a tight-fitting lid. Heat uncovered over high heat until it reaches a boil. Cover and reduce heat to low. Cook covered and without peeking for 18-20 minutes, until rice is soft and there are small circular holes tunneling down amongst the grains (a bit like this image from The Talking Kitchen).
- Meanwhile, toast the sesame seeds by jingling the seeds into a small dry sauce pan. Heat over medium heat until they have a bit of a Florida tan all over, about 5 minutes, shaking pan occasionally. Remove from heat and transfer to a small mixing bowl.
- Mix the cucumber, chives, lime juice and the 1/4 teaspoon of remaining kosher salt with the sesame seeds.
- Transfer the rice to a serving platter. Spoon the cucumber mixture over the rice. Don’t mix them together because that will heat up the cucumber and you want it to stay cool and fresh until it reaches your mouth.
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