I know I probably wax poetic pretty often about living where we do, but bear with me–it is still pretty new and exciting. Anyway, what’s the latest exciting, my-yard-is-better-than-any-classroom discovery? The turtle my friend spotted ambling across our backyard while she and her kids were over for a playdate! And a turtle is better than a frog any day because it actually stands still (albeit terrified, most likely) while your kids check it out! He stuck his head in his shell and pretty much refused to come out but otherwise was immobile. We eventually convinced the kids to leave him a carrot and leave him alone, so he could move on–but oh the excitement in the meantime!
I sometimes get caught up in thinking that all blog dishes must be exciting, unique, complicated… but this is really silly since tasty but simple food has an even greater role in any busy person’s life. I found this side dish when I was searching for something to serve with a broiled fish (a fish which failed so maybe you will hear about it when I get it right!). The fish was vaguely Asian in nature, but certainly not traditional. Because I was focusing on the fish, I did not want to get involved in a complicated side dish. I also wanted to keep the side dish as low in fat as possible, which pretty much ruled out a fried rice dish.
This Fragrant Jasmine Rice is aromatic with herbs, sweet with pineapple and savory with a drizzle of soy sauce and fish sauce. The ending toppings are not shown in the picture, because I started fiddling with my second serving, after I was done taking pictures. This dish would perfectly complement any Asian main dish which does not generate enough sauce to really work well with plain jasmine rice.
2 cups jasmine rice, rinsed clean
2 t vegetable oil
1 stalk of lemongrass, trimmed at each end and smashed with blunt handle of knife and sliced into 3 inch pieces (if it falls apart, place to remaining pieces in cheesecloth)
6 cloves garlic, minced
1 fresh long but skinny red pepper (Anaheim, for exs), seeded and minced (to heat preference-use hotter chile if desired)
1/4 t salt
1 cup crushed pineapple (I used 1 can of chunks that was processed without juice)
2 1/2 scant cups water
3 T Thai or purple basil
drizzle of fish sauce (to taste)
drizzle of soy sauce (to taste)
1-2 T fresh lime juice (to taste)
pinch of sugar (to taste)
Drain the rice thoroughly from rinsing and set aside.
In a medium saucepan, heat the oil over medium high heat. Add the garlic and cook until toasty light brown and fragrant. Add the minced pepper and lemongrass (only pieces not in cheesecloth bag). Cook, stirring, for 2 minutes. Add the pineapple and cook another 3 minutes, stirring. Add salt and rice. Stir thoroughly. Add the water (and any lemongrass in a cheesecloth bag if you have some) and bring quickly to a boil (use high heat). Once it is boiling, cover and reduce heat to low to simmer. Let simmer for 15 minutes, then turn heat off and let rest for 5 minutes.
When it is done, uncover and fluff. Add the basil and mix in. The other garnishes either do in the pan or let people individually do to taste. Serve.