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WHAT WE EAT WHEN IT’S VERY COLD; GINGER SCALLION FRIED RICE

A couple weeks ago, I took a rather impromptu trip out to Yellowstone. Work had slowed and after a crazy December it was nice to head out and clear my mind. It’s an incredible landscape, and it’s made even more dramatic by a blindingly bright blanket of snow and clusters of bison dotting the vast Lamar valley.

Yellowstone is fascinating in the winter. It is desolate, nearly empty, so you have the bubbling, steaming thermal features and all kinds of wild animals almost to yourself. It is quiet. We spotted coyotes, a red fox, elk, eagles and wolves – but the wolves were only visible at a great, great distance through powerful spotting scopes. There’s a group of dedicated wolf-obsessed folks who’ll spend an entire day criss-crossing Lamar valley – a place the wolves frequent for an abundance of prey – in search of various packs. It’s almost as fascinating to watch them in their single-minded obsession, as they chat with each other on walkie talkies, referencing landmarks and packs in a coded language, as it is to watch the wolves.

Cooke City, Montana

Lovely Cooke City from the bus

It never gets so cold in our mild San Francisco. So it was nice to be reminded what real, bone-shattering temperatures feel like. The power of that cold to get into every last unprotected nook was pretty profound. And it made eating hot foods gratifying on a level that’s hard for me to understand when it’s 50 degrees out. I rode on a day-long snowcoach tour – there were only two of us aside from the driver – and we stopped for lunch in remote Cooke City, Mt, for some bowls of hot chili. The spiciness and heat were invigorating. Since then, besides fantasizing about a dual life in Montana, I’ve been obsessed with foods that are deeply, fundamentally warming. The best of those, by far, are stews. Let’s call this fried rice a close second.

Fried rice was a favorite of mine as a kid. I had forgotten about that until I tried it again (and fell in love with it again) at Mission Chinese Food. Their iteration, greasy and hot and salty and wonderful, is a little bolder than what many of us grew up eating, but totally and completely satisfying on that same, starchy level. And this version is tamer on both the greasy and bold fronts, but again, equally satisfying. What are your favorite cold-weather foods?

GINGER SCALLION FRIED RICE
Serves 4
Inspired by Saffron Lane

4 tablespoons toasted sesame oil, divided
6 green onions (scallions), whites and dark greens separated, sliced
1 medium carrot, julienned
1/2 cup shelled edamame
3 tablespoons minced ginger
2 garlic cloves, minced
4 ounces shiitake mushrooms, thinly sliced
2 medium eggs, beaten
3 cups cold, cooked long-grain brown rice
5 tablespoons low-sodium tamari or soy sauce
1 cup cooked, shredded chicken or tofu (dark meat is better if using chicken)
freshly cracked black pepper

Heat a large skillet or wok over a medium flame. When hot, add two teaspoons of the sesame oil. Add the white and pale green parts of the green onions and stir. After about a minute, add the carrots, edamame, ginger and garlic and stir to combine. Saute, stirring occasionally, for about five minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.

Add another teaspoon of oil to the same skillet. Add the mushrooms and saute until soft, stirring occasionally, about five minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.

Now increase the heat to medium high. Add another tablespoon of oil. When the oil starts to smoke, add the whisked eggs and let them fan out into a thin layer. Stir eggs as you would to make a scramble. When just cooked, remove and set aside.

Add the remaining two tablespoons of sesame oil and the three cups of rice. Spread the rice in a thin layer in the pan and let cook, stirring a little. Grind some black pepper over the rice now.

After about five minutes, add the tamari or soy sauce. Stir thoroughly to combine. Add the carrot, green onion and edamame mixture, the mushrooms, the scrambled eggs and the chicken and continue to saute and stir until hot, about five minutes.

Turn off heat. Add half of the diced dark green ends of the scallions and stir.

Scoop into bowls and garnish with the remaining diced green onions. Season with sea salt if desired.

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  • Brian @ A Thought For Food - January 26, 2012 - 5:30 pm

    Such a beautiful trip you had! I wouldn’t be caught dead going on a ski trip, but I appreciate the beauty in the scenery. And that recipe. Such wonderful comfort food.ReplyCancel

  • Kankana - January 26, 2012 - 5:36 pm

    Wow, you are enjoying the winter :) This fried rice looks lovely and with ginger I know I will love it!ReplyCancel

  • Joy - January 26, 2012 - 6:06 pm

    you make winter bearable! love anything with ginger!ReplyCancel

  • ileana - January 26, 2012 - 7:03 pm

    That first picture is unreal. What a trip! Fried rice looks delicious, too. Haven’t found a take-out place that makes it better than the one near my parent’s house in my hometown. Makes me sad!ReplyCancel

  • Stacy - January 26, 2012 - 8:58 pm

    I am constantly cold all winter long! I tend toward soup, and baked goods that keep my kitchen toasty–but this looks delicious too! I’ll have to give it a go. Do you think tofu would substitute well for the chicken?ReplyCancel

  • Sasha - January 26, 2012 - 9:05 pm

    What stunning winter pictures! A winter wonderland indeed.ReplyCancel

  • Cookie and Kate - January 26, 2012 - 11:35 pm

    Perfect! This recipe gives me an excuse to break out my wok and use up the shelled edamame in my freezer. I love the photos of your winter adventures, too. My recent trip to the mountains of Colorado helped me appreciate our mild Oklahoma weather!ReplyCancel

  • kickpleat - January 27, 2012 - 12:25 am

    I went to Yosemite 2 years ago, but never Yellowstone. It looks gorgeous and I’d love to take a trip out there – and a winter trip sounds amazing. Love fried rice and it always must include eggs. Something about the eggs makes it so much more soul-satisfying.ReplyCancel

  • Rebecca (Season with Reason) - January 27, 2012 - 5:50 am

    Talk about a break from the daily grind! Good for you. Fried rice is one of those magical dishes I associate with Chinese take-out night during childhood – when I learned how easy it is to make a healthier version I was thrilled.ReplyCancel

  • annaliese - January 27, 2012 - 6:21 am

    looks delicious, I’ve been meaning to make fried rice again soon but I like this variation. and maybe I’ll even visit mission chinese food to try it, too!ReplyCancel

  • Jason Sandeman - January 27, 2012 - 9:03 am

    Awesome dish! I love fried rice, it is one of my weaknesses. I actually had a chef who swore that the rice tasted better after you reheated it in the micro. I didn’t agree, but he was the chef.
    I second the notion that the dark meat is better in this dish. The only thing I like a bit better for an addition is some fermented black beans. Now yer talkin! ;)ReplyCancel

  • Kimberley - January 27, 2012 - 9:10 am

    @Stacy: Tofu, absolutely! I meant to make a note of that in the recipe. Fixing that now!ReplyCancel

  • Elizabeth @ Saffron Lane - January 27, 2012 - 9:14 am

    So happy you were able to get away after a busy month — and your photos are as stunning as ever. Thanks for the shout out, too. There’s nothing like fried rice on a cold day, especially with the fantastic ingredients you’ve used.ReplyCancel

  • Kasey - January 27, 2012 - 10:08 am

    I love that you take these wilderness trips! Your photos always look stunning and always make me think that I need to take time to go somewhere really, really far, and totally out in nature. It’s been a while since I’ve had fried rice. I’m intrigued!ReplyCancel

  • la domestique - January 27, 2012 - 12:55 pm

    It’s been too long since I’ve had fried rice! The recipe looks very tasty and satisfying. Tonight I’m slow-roasting lamb shank with red wine. Seems perfect for the dark, snowy day we’ve had in Boulder today. Cheers!ReplyCancel

  • Lynda - January 28, 2012 - 8:59 am

    What a wonderful trip – I miss the winter here in SF, especially this year. Lovely recipe (as usual!)ReplyCancel

  • Internet Tasting Session S02E01 - January 29, 2012 - 6:57 am

    [...] you are back from a day of skiing, Ginger and scallion fried rice is always nice. Or, if you have ever had a bunch of Thai basil, you know that it will turn bad very [...]ReplyCancel

  • Laurel - January 29, 2012 - 9:13 am

    I love fried rice! A friend of mine from Singapore suggested I add chopped garlic and WOW! Over the top. I love soups and stews when its cold, but it never gets snowy cold in my area of Cali. I made chicken pot pie last week, a winter indulgence-Yum!ReplyCancel

  • Anna @ the shady pine - January 29, 2012 - 1:47 pm

    As someone from Australia, I cannot imagine wha this level of cold is…all I know is if I couldn’t feel my toes I would want something warming and hearty to eat like this by the fire.ReplyCancel

  • Kelsey - January 29, 2012 - 6:01 pm

    Dual life in Montana? Count me in. This is a PERFECT weeknight meal, putting it in the queue. Cheers, Kim :)ReplyCancel

  • amelia - January 30, 2012 - 8:07 am

    love, love, love this post. You go to the most beautiful, heavenly places!! In fact, I am sending this link to my husband now… inspiration for our next big trip!ReplyCancel

  • Jacqui - January 31, 2012 - 6:16 pm

    I have been craving to see Yellowstone as an adult; it’s going to happen in this summer, but now I want to see it during winter! And I’m definitely craving some fried rice right now too!ReplyCancel

  • NicoleD - February 1, 2012 - 7:59 am

    We’re having unseasonably warm temperatures and I am sort of missing the colder weather. We’ve had spurts of cold weather (in the 5-10 degree range) and then I make soup/stew like it’s going out of style. Your snowy pictures are so pretty! I love this lighter take on fried rice. Must try.ReplyCancel

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