Rice & Grains

From fried rice to lo mein: what to do when day-old rice goes bad

casaveneracion.com Lo Mein

Crazy night. I wanted to make a simple lasagne dish with pesto and white sauce, Speedy said we still had leftover rice in the fridge so, not wanting to cook something new before we had consumed leftovers, I decided to make fried rice instead.

The insanity started while cooking the pork. I’ve gotten into the habit of cooking meat in bulk, dividing into portions, cutting each portion into strips or cubes or chunks depending on whatever I intend to cook them with later, and storing each portion in the freezer separately. So, I had a kilo of pork belly. I cut the chunk into one-inch thick slices and placed the slices side by side in a very hot cast iron pan. I was going to sear them before adding a little liquid.

And the stove died. No more LPG. And we didn’t have spare, goodness’ sakes. Speedy texted the LPG delivery service and got no response. It was nearly 8:00 o’clock and, perhaps, they didn’t deliver after normal work hours. Speedy, face crumpled because he had to go out again to buy LPG, was getting ready to leave the house. Okay, I’m not heartless. I told him I could just move the pork to the turbo broiler and reheat the rice in the microwave. Dinner would be very simple but at least we won’t have to resort to buttered toast.

And that was what I did. I broiled the pork belly in the turbo broiler instead. And then the LPG delivery guy arrived with two tanks of LPG. Speedy was just as surprised as I was. Well, thank you very much. If anyone wakes early enough tomorrow and wants breakfast, breakfast wouldn’t have to be limited to coffee. But insofar as cooking the pork went, I didn’t move anymore. I wasn’t about to take the pork out of the turbo broiler and put it back on the stove.

When the meat was done, I took a piece and cut it into small pieces. Then, I diced some vegetables: carrot, eggplant, bell peppers, Chinese broccoli — whatever there was in the fridge. I was going to throw them all together to make a tasty, colorful fried rice chock-full of vegetables. I cooked meat and vegetables into a stir fry and, when they were almost done, I took the rice out of the fridge. I started separating the grains and that was when I realized that the rice had gone bad.

I told Speedy we couldn’t have fried rice. And he asked so, what now? The obvious solution was to take the stir fried pork and vegetables off the stove so they wouldn’t overcook. And then cook rice. But, heck, the stir fry would be cold by then. And soggy. Besides, it was nearly 9:00 o’clock and we were hungry. So, I said, “Pancit canton.” For non-Filipinos, that’s chow mein or lo mein, depending on how the noodles are cooked. I knew we still had egg noodles because I went through every noodle item in the pantry last weekend when Sam was asking for ramen.

I took a stool to reach the highest shelf where the egg noodles were. I didn’t bother softening them in boiling water. I dumped them directly into the pan with the stir fry, added a few tablespoonfuls of water and adjusted the seasonings. So, from fried rice that never was to lo mein, and dinner was ready. Of course, I took a photo before eating. With a story like that to tell, I have to show the evidence.

So, there. Remember the lesson. Never panic. In the kitchen, disasters can be averted. Just don’t panic. There’s a solution for everything.

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