This month’s Recipe Redux theme features recipes of sea vegetables and small fish. I usually have a small jar of anchovies in the fridge, so I felt pretty comfortable with the challenge, and I wanted the recipe I created to really demonstrate how anchovies can be used as an everyday ingredient. I’ve talked about using anchovies before as an easy way to add depth and a salty flavor to dishes and as a healthy inexpensive option for eating more seafood.
One of my favorite dinners is a simple preparation of brown rice stir fried in oil, topped with a fried egg and crisped garlic, and seasoned with Asian flavors like toasted sesame oil, soy sauce, or ginger. It’s quick and easy, and I usually always have the ingredients on hand, so it’s a good fallback option for when there isn’t time to grocery shop or meal plan. And it lends itself so well to this challenge. Because anchovies dissolve when you cook them in hot oil, they can be blended seamlessly into just about any dish that starts of sautéing something, anything, in olive oil. And I liked that the strong flavors of the egg and toasted sesame oil would complement the saltiness of the anchovies without overwhelming them (or letting the anchovies overpower everything else). And, in the true spirit of the RecipeRedux, I included some chopped steamed asparagus to make it even healthier.
But then the first time I made this variation, it all went wrong (kitchen flop #2 within just a week). It’s something that I make all the time without a recipe, but when I tried to measure ingredients and capture everything with precision, I ended up going overboard on the oils and fried the rice to a hard, inedible crisp. David and I ended up eating lightly buttered asparagus spears with eggs on toast. Not a bad fallback fallback, but not what I’d hoped for.
So while making this recipe, use a light hand when pouring the oil. Not only does that reduce the calories, but it’ll save you from the soggy mess I wound up with the first time. You can use the same skillet for each phase of this recipe, so it’s important to not wipe out the oil in the pan between each step. After all, it’s got dissolved anchovies in it, and that’s such an important point.
Fried Rice with Asparagus, Anchovies, and a Fried Egg
1/2 pound asparagus spears, cut into 2-inch pieces
3 Tablespoons oil (olive or peanut oil work fine)
4 cloves of garlic, chopped
2 anchovy fillets
2 cups cooked brown rice
1 teaspoon of toasted sesame oil (optional)
1. Add 2 Tablespoons of water to a large skillet, then add the asparagus and cover. Steam for about 4 minutes, until the asparagus is tender but not soft. Drain and set the asparagus tips aside.
2. In the same skillet, heat 2 Tablespoons of oil over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook until brown and crisp. Use a slotted spoon to remove the garlic from the pan before it burns. Set aside on paper towels. Turn up the stove settings to medium-high and heat the remaining oil in the skillet, then add the anchovy fillets and cook until dissolved. Add the brown rice, using a wooden spoon or spatula to stir and break up any sticky spots. Stir fry until heated through. Add the asparagus to the rice mixture and season with salt, pepper, and drizzle with the sesame oil. Divide the rice between two plates.
3. Add the remaining Tablespoon of oil to the skillet and fry the eggs over medium heat. Season with salt and pepper before flipping them over. Cook until the whites are set but the yolk is still runny. Top each plate of rice with an egg and sprinkle the crisped garlic on top. Serve immediately.