When I was growing up, there was always a container of steamed rice sitting in the refrigerator. My mother is from India, where rice is eaten with nearly every meal, so having rice always at the ready is pretty much standard for her. If I were to get up right now, go to my parents’ house, and open their refrigerator, I can guarantee you that I would find a batch of rice sitting in there (chances are I would also probably find a package of hot dogs in there as well, because my father is not from India).
What is often found hanging out in my own refrigerator is a collection of bits and pieces leftover from various dishes that I have been making throughout the course of a couple of weeks. If I spend a serious week or two trying out new recipes, the refrigerator will be, at the end of the cooking spree, a veritable junkyard of end bits, stray vegetables and herbs, and tiny little containers filled with the last drops of whatever I could manage to drizzle out of various jars and cans. It’s basically one step removed from a compost pile in there.
It’s been a few months since I shared a recipe based on the principle of cleaning out the refrigerator, and, as the recent state of my own fridge indicates, it seems I am due for another. Coincidentally, this particular recipe started with a container of leftover steamed rice, though the direction I took it was a bit farther to the east than India. With hearty spoonfuls of lemongrass, scallion, fresh mint, ginger, and lime, all coated with a large splash of coconut milk, the flavors of these rice patties rest comfortably in Thailand. The sauce I threw together to accompany the patties is a bit more difficult to define geographically, but, with its subtle honey sweetness and bright, kicky hints of lime, it makes a familiar, complimentary companion.
Lemongrass Rice Patties
3 cups cold, day-old jasmine rice
¼ cup rice flour
1 tablespoon finely minced fresh lemongrass (use only the tender middle of the stalk, not the woody outer layer)
1 large finely chopped scallion
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh mint
1 tablespoon finely grated fresh ginger
¾ teaspoon finely grated or minced lime zest
¼ cup coconut milk
1 large egg
pinch of salt
vegetable oil, for frying
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lime juice
pinch of finely grated or chopped fresh lime zest
½ teaspoon honey
½ teaspoon finely grated fresh ginger
¾ teaspoon soy sauce
In a large bowl, mix together all of the ingredients, except for the vegetable oil. The best way to really incorporate all of the ingredients is to mix using your bare hands.
In a large skillet set over medium high heat, heat enough vegetable oil to just cover the bottom of the pan. When the oil is hot and just beginning to shimmer, form a small patty out of a scant ¼ cup of the rice mixture and gently place the patty in the hot oil. Place enough patties in the pan to cook them comfortably without crowding them. Cook one side of the patties until they are light golden in color, about 3 minutes, then carefully flip the patties over and cook until the other side has turned nicely golden. Remove the patties from the pan and place on a layer of paper towels set on top of a wire rack. This set up will allow the patties to drain and cool without becoming soggy.
Form and cook remaining rice mixture in the same manner, adjusting the heat of the pan as necessary to prevent the patties from cooking too rapidly and burning.
To make the sauce, whisk together all of the ingredients in a small bowl. The sauce is great for dipping, or it can be drizzled over the cooked patties en masse.
Makes about 12 rice patties.
|About the contributor:|
|Elizabeth Miller is a freelance writer who runs Savory Salty Sweet, a food and kitchen appreciation website. She also writes the Melting Pot column here on Indie Fixx, which appears bimonthly on Fridays. Read more about her on the contributors’ page.|