Me: I can't believe it took me until I was *ahem* years old before I started to understand what it means to crave something.
Little Sister: It sure does make eating more satisfying.
It's hard to explain to someone who didn't grow up with this deficiency, I suppose, what it feels like. But for the longest time I just couldn't associate food with normal responses (satiety, energy, satisfaction)—it would be like trying to describe red to the color blind. I think I loosely grouped foods into categories, like "good" or "bad," but for the most part I found I disliked the "good" foods and couldn't coax anything I truly needed (satiety, energy, satisfaction) from the "bad" ones. (To my credit, I tried really really hard. Over and over and over again.)
Whaddya know! It's therapy hour on the Woodside!
We'll try to keep the confessional spirit to a minimum, but to put it frankly, I felt like I was missing some fundamental knowledge that everyone else had. People would say to me, "What do you feel like for dinner?" and I would sort of cast about for verbal cues that would tell me how I was supposed to make a decision like that. I didn't understand how other people did it, said things like, "I am really in the mood for ... pizza." How did they know that? I wondered.
(As it turns out, I think that's because until recently I only ever had one culinary desire: I want A LOT for dinner. I am in the mood for A LOT. But that's a story for another couch.)
Not until I started cooking did I really discover what things taste like and, better yet, that I can conjure them into being. And as it turns out, that has satisfied my instant-gratification sensors better than infinite pounds of Cheez-Its ever could. (Don't get me wrong, now, I still pray to the gods of the Cheez-Its, forever and ever amen.)
At any rate, I am giddily enamored of my new skill, even though I'll admit it sometimes goes on the fritz. I don't know exactly what my stomach—and brain—are craving every second of every day, but when that tiny voice gains strength (Seriously? I want dark-meat chicken? Is that weird?) I'm newly surprised every time.
And it makes a lot of things, not just eating, a lot more satisfying.
This recipe is based sort of loosely on Jean-Georges Vongerichten's ginger fried rice, for which you can find lots of recipes on these here Interwebs. I added bites of boneless, skinless chicken thighs (I mean, REALLY! Who knew?!?) and topped it, J-G V style, with a fried egg. The yolk broke before I could take the photo—and by "yolk broke," I mean "I clumsily flipped it with my big meat hooks and destroyed its lovely loveliness"—and I cried salty tears. I understand that fried rice is best and most conveniently cooked up with yesterday's leftover rice, but I don't have those kinds of planning skillz. I just cooked the rice and popped it into the freezer for a quick cool-down while I prepared the chicken. Make sure you have enough leeks; I think I was a little shy on mine, and they didn't have quite the punch I was hoping for. You can easily leave out the sriracha here if you want to go more straight-savory than spicy, but definitely take the couple of minutes to make the crispy ginger and garlic. It's worth it.
Chicken-and-Leek Fried Rice with Fried Egg
2 tablespoons hoisin sauce
1 tablespoon sriracha
1½ pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs, trimmed and chopped
1 tablespoon plus ½ cup canola oil, divided
2 tablespoons minced ginger
2 tablespoons minced garlic
2 cups sliced leeks, rinsed and dried well
4 cups cooked rice, cooled
4 large eggs
2 teaspoons sesame oil
2 teaspoons soy sauce
1. Combine first 3 ingredients in a medium bowl. Heat 1 tablespoon canola oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat; add chicken mixture, and sauté until cooked through. Remove chicken from pan, and set aside.
2. Reduce heat to medium, and add remaining ½ cup oil to pan. Add garlic and ginger, and cook, stirring occasionally, until crisp and lightly browned. Transfer to paper towels with a slotted spoon, and salt lightly.
3. Reduce heat to medium-low, and add leeks. Cook about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until very tender. Increase heat to medium-high; add rice and chicken, stirring until heated through and slightly caramelized on bottom. Keep warm
4. In a small skillet, fry eggs. Divide rice among 4 bowls; top each with 1 egg, ¼ of the garlic and ginger, and a drizzle of sesame oil and soy sauce. Garnish with additional sriracha, if desired. Makes 4 servings.