This recipe, my hopefully-improved riff on the one from "Japanese Soul Cooking," doesn't make much sense on first reading (cooked iceberg lettuce?) but I've never made it without being begged for the recipe. It's a mound of utterly-basic, sesame-fried rice in a translucent, tepid moat of ginger-infused, potato-starch-thickened crab and Iceberg lettuce soup, yum.
The original calls for 8 oz of canned crabmeat, but this deserves the best you can find. Here in Seattle, Costco sells fresh Dungeness crabmeat for $28/lb. It doesn't keep so I use the whole pound. So should you.
Sesame oil (if you don't keep it in the fridge, it's likely rancid)
4 eggs, with 2 TBS salted water added, beaten with a chopsticks or a fork (leave them streaky)
2 fat scallions, green and white parts, trimmed and chopped
4 cups cooked rice, warm, clumps broken up (brown basmati is my default, but sticky rice would be better, here)
2 TBS soy sauce
1 tsp fish sauce
1 lb of the absolute best crab you can find
1 cup neutral chicken stock
4 oz iceberg lettuce leaves, ripped into bite-size pieces (trust me on this one)
1 1⁄2-inch piece ginger (about half an ounce), peeled and julienned as fine as you like, and double that amount if you feel like it
2 tsp potato starch dissolved in 2 TBS water
Heat 1 tsp sesame oil in a wok over high heat. Add the eggs and gently scramble until sloppy-set, about 10-15 seconds. Set aside. (You want them not-yet-edible.)
Heat 1 TBS of the sesame oil in a wok over high heat. Add the scallions and cook, stirring constantly, for about 30 seconds, but don't brown them. Add the rice, and cook, stirring constantly, for 30 seconds more. Add the soy sauce, salt, pepper, and cooked eggs. Cook, stirring constantly, for 30 seconds. Add the other TBS of sesame oil, and cook, stirring constantly, for 10 more seconds. Turn off the heat.
The best way to build the fried-rice mounds is in little serving bowls that hold about a cup of rice. Oil them first with sesame oil, then press the fried rice in fairly tightly so that when you plunk them upside down into the serving bowls, the shape holds. As the cook, I've always eaten the one that didn't hold together, so be warned, and press fairly firmly. Leave the little serving bowls on top of the rice to keep it warm.
To prepare the ankake, add the chicken stock, lettuce, ginger, salt, and pepper to a saucepan and bring to a boil over heat. Reduce the heat to medium and simmer for about 2 minutes, mixing occasionally. Add the crab, the 2 tsp of potato starch dissolved in 2 TBS water, and cook, stirring constantly, for about 15 seconds. Turn off the heat.
Pour about one-fourth of the ankake around each bowl-covered fried-rice mound. Remove the bowls with an overconfident flourish, and serve.
Note: If you're using actual raw crab that you shucked yourself, of course simmer it along with the rest of the ankake ingredients for a couple of minutes.
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