This kind of meal is on fairly high rotation at our place – Omelette, rice and something else. It’s a quick meal, very satisfying, and can go in a lot of different directions. What I’ve got in the picture above is my breakfast from this morning – leftover rice and coleslaw with a one egg omelette. Often when I make something like this for dinner I go in a heartier, pseudo-Spanish direction, so it will be omelette, rice, and chickpeas with capsicum and tomatoes.
To my mind, this is basically a 3-20 minute meal, depending on what the “other” thing is (and if you have some rice in the fridge already). However, I appreciate that this is kind of like the Jamie Oliver 15 minute meal claim – I know how to (quickly) make rice and how to make an omelette, skills that I am aware not everybody has – let’s talk about that.
Rice – everybody should know how to cook rice. First of all, everybody should just have a fucking rice cooker. Unless you never eat rice, a rice cooker is pretty much the most useful non-essential (I consider it essential) kitchen item there is. Here are two good reasons:
- It just fucking does it for you, what are you not understanding about this, nobody needs artisinally-hand-steamed rice.
- (More importantly) if you are anything like me then often when you are cooking rice you’re making more than one other thing, in which case – because apparently people who design stoves think that people use a maximum of two burners at any one time, or, alternatively, only have tiny pots – space is probably at a premium on the stove.
More about rice though:
- everybody says it, but, if you can be arsed, wash the rice. You don’t have to do it, it won’t explode and kill you if you don’t, it will just be better – fluffier, not claggy.
- Don’t buy the cheapest, shittest rice. Even the most expensive rice isn’t very expensive and it won’t have crappy broken grains and dust at the bottom of the bag and cook up into glue with gritty hard bits in.
- 1 part rice to 1½ parts water for jasmine rice. The same for basmati, but soak it for 5 minutes in cold water first (use this as part of your wash, two birds etc etc). Brown rice is slightly more complicated, generally 2 parts water to 1 part rice but sometimes a little extra water is needed.
- The rice above had a quarter of an onion finely sliced into it, and a heaped teaspoon of fennel seeds added before turning the rice cooker on. You can use stock instead of water. Think about flavours.
- when the cooking time is up, let it sit and steam for 10 minutes.
Omelettes – the thing is, to begin with, omelettes actually are hard. They’re like crepes, once you’ve got the hang of it and you understand how it works you can do it in your sleep, but before that you’re probably going to fuck it up a bunch of times and end up with scrambled eggs. The only part of an episode of that hellish Gordon Ramsey show I’ve ever seen was him demanding that the cook of a restaurant he’s meant to be saving make him an omelette, and berating the guy for it being terrible. I recall thinking it was tremendously unfair because he was suggesting that the mark of a good chef is whether or not they can make an omelette – but, fuck’s sake, when was the last time you went out to eat somewhere that even has an omelette on the menu? What is this, 1978? Did you order the Coq au Vin and Crepe Suzette too?
Making an omelette is sort of something you have to learn to do by doing it, I’m not sure that you can learn it from reading about it, but here are some pointers anyway:
- As with crepes, it’s all about the pan. The best is a well seasoned black-steel pan, but a not-shit non-stick pan will do it. The shape is important too, it should be small and preferably not have rounded edges. Mine is 20cm across the bottom and I consider it to be very slightly too large to make the perfect 2 egg omelette, but it’ll do.
- Use a combination of olive oil and butter in the pan. More butter though.
- if you are putting anything in the omelette (cheese, herbs etc) have all of that ready before the egg goes in the pan.
- The pan needs to be hot when the egg mix goes in, not smoking, but it should sizzle.
- the aim is to let the bottom solidify enough so that, using the edge of a fork, you can pull the outer edges of the omelette in towards the middle, letting the uncooked egg spill into the gaps you’ve left. Once there isn’t enough liquid egg left to do this and it’s just starting to solidify on top, add your fillings and fold in half, or thirds if you want. The whole thing shouldn’t take any more than 2 minutes.
Go crazy. Whatever you like.
The coleslaw above was cabbage, carrot, onion, celery, green capsicum rubbed with sugar and miso, then dressed with boiling rice vinegar, mustard, chilli flakes, sesame oil, and rice bran oil. Stir. Leave for at least 20 mins, several days is better.
The best chickpeas with capsicums goes – 1 green capsicum, 1 red capsicum, 1-2 onions, all the garlic, fry fairly slowly in lots of olive oil until capsicums are soft. Add 4 fresh, chopped tomatoes, or half a can of tomatoes, 2ish TBS red or white wine vinegar, maybe a little sugar depending on the sweet/acid balance of the tomatoes, a can of chickpeas (drained, rinsed). Cook until the vinegariness mellows and the chickpeas are definitely soft. Will take chilli if so desired. All the parsley.
Other Ideas – steamed silverbeet (or cauliflower, broccoli, anything green, etc etc) with sesame seeds and chilli oil. Braised zucchini with parmesan. Spicy carrot pickle. Eggplant rolls. I could go on and on but I won’t (btw, let me know if you want any of the recipes I’m spouting at the bottom here)