Sunday, May 8, 2011

Food and Oral History: Garlic Rice

Garlic rice photo by Hamilton from Evart Michigan

Simplicity sometimes makes things so much better.  I have been describing simple recipes with complicated nuances of in between twists and turns.  The truth of cooking as well as anything in life is that less is more.  I can not think of anything more basic and simple than rice.

Rice is the fundamental staple of Filipino food.  It is the foundation upon which we pour our soups over.  It is the centerpiece of our sweets to make our gelatinous desserts.  My grandmother even made her own libation, saki, out of fermented rice.   I confess that I am probably the only Filipino who does not own a rice cooker. You can imagine how panicked I was when I decided to have a Filipino party.  I could not make enough rice to feed twenty-five people in a little pot, in my tiny kitchen, on my limited counter space stove top.  So I put a text out to family members who owned a rice cooker.  I text messaged "help, please bring rice."

Those who attended the Merienda party at my house may recall that the three hour party lasted all night long.  I woke up the next morning to find my brother and brother in-law snoring away.  As I wandered sleepily into the kitchen, the second thing I found in the house were several containers of left over rice.  Perhaps I went a little over board on the call out for rice.  I shrugged off the finding to the fact that rice does not last long in my house. 

My brother woke up and stated that you can not have a party without garlic rice.  He quickly cooked us up a batch and we ate the left over chicken adobe on top of the garlic rice, with an egg on top of course - otherwise it would not be breakfast.  Ironically, the simplest of dishes is made to top off a party of the grandest mosaic of dishes.

Rice (leftover and cold to room temperature)
Olive oil
Garlic sliced

Par cook the garlic slices in the olive oil and then add the rice.  Mash the rice and mix the ingredients until they are mixed together.  This cooks best if it is done in a wok.  Many add other things in the dish like green onions or Filipino sausage called longaniza.  We keep it simple so we can eat with other complementary left overs like adobo.

Garlic rice photo by Hamilton from Evart, Michigan:

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