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Are Restaurants Too Shaken To Be Innovative?
Catching up on the world of dining out
Welcome to the first “restaurant” episode of Food with Mark Bittman.
Although I did begin my food career reviewing restaurants back in New Haven in the eighties, I never liked that job so much, and in New York at least — which is my hometown — I never felt qualified to compare restaurants. I had my favorites, of course, and still do, but when people ask me for restaurant recommendations, that’s really all I’ve been qualified to do, is to say, “I like this place.” I have never been current. It’s just safe to say that although I have opinions, when I go out to eat, I either ask for recommendations or I just pick more or less randomly.
Still, like just about everyone, I’m interested in restaurants, and in the state of restaurants right now, especially in New York, which was hit harder than maybe anywhere else during Covid, and which continues to recover.
So Kate and I agreed we’d pick the brain of our esteemed colleague Melissa McCart, who’s the editor of the Bittman Project. Melissa really does keep up with restaurants in New York. We had a lot of questions for her. It’s a different kind of conversation for us, and one I hope you’ll find interesting.
Please listen, subscribe, and review. And we’d love to hear your food-related questions, as we’d like to start doing live Q&A: Email us: firstname.lastname@example.org. The recipe featured in today’s episode — Jean-Georges’ Ginger Fried Rice, in honor of my good friend and one of my actual favorite restaurants — is below.
Thank you, as always. — Mark
Jean-Georges’ Ginger Fried Rice
Makes: 4 servings
Time: 30 minutes
Like all fried-rice dishes, this begins with leftover rice (freshly cooked rice is too moist to fry well). It’s jasmine rice here, but white from takeout works nearly as well and is more convenient. Perhaps unsurprisingly — this is a chef’s recipe, after all — separate cooking processes are called for: ginger and garlic are crisped, leeks softened, rice and eggs fried. But no step takes more than a few minutes, and the results are absolutely worth the effort.
1/2 cup peanut oil
2 tablespoons minced garlic
2 tablespoons minced ginger
2 cups thinly sliced leeks, white and light green parts only, rinsed and dried
4 cups day-old cooked rice, preferably jasmine, at room temperature
4 large eggs
2 teaspoons sesame oil
4 teaspoons soy sauce
1. In a large skillet, heat ¼ cup peanut oil over medium heat. Add garlic and ginger and cook, stirring occasionally, until crisp and brown. With a slotted spoon, transfer to paper towels and salt lightly.
2. Reduce heat under skillet to medium-low and add 2 tablespoons peanut oil and leeks. Cook about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until very tender but not browned. Season lightly with salt.
3. Raise heat to medium and add rice. Cook, stirring well, until heated through. Season to taste with salt.
4. In a nonstick skillet, fry eggs in remaining peanut oil, sunny-side-up, until edges are set but yolk is still runny.
5. Divide rice among four dishes. Top each with an egg and drizzle with ½ teaspoon sesame oil and 1 teaspoon soy sauce. Sprinkle crisped garlic and ginger over everything and serve.
— Recipe from the New York Times