Strange and Wonderful
A few tricks turn familiar recipes into unexpected treats
Like a Halloween witch at her cauldron, I've spent this month stirring up some bubbling new brews. Tired of the same-old-same-old? These ideas are sure to break the spell and reanimate dinner like a bolt of lightning.
Scrambled Egg Salad
Pumpkin Spice Rice
No matter how you feel about chile crisp, you've got to admit the appeal of a crunchy flavor-packed drizzling oil that hangs out in the fridge.
Briny dried seaweed is a super-versatile substitution. And the mysterious green color quickly sucked me into its depths. Pass seaweed crisp with bowls based on cooked noodles or whole grains; toss with stir-fried vegetables right before serving; or spoon some over simply grilled or roasted fish, chicken, meat, eggs, or tofu. For a quick dipping sauce, pull out a quarter cup or so, add a splash each of soy sauce and rice vinegar, and a pinch of sugar.
Here's how: This makes about 1 1/2 cups crisp in ratios that are easy to divide or multiply. Heat 1 cup any relatively neutral vegetable oil in a heavy saucepan to about 300°. I used safflower but grapeseed or canola (if you like it) are good choices, too. Remove the pot from the heat and stir in 1 cup crumbled wakame or hijiki. (Or try other kinds. I even made a batch with some dried sea parsley my sister sent me from Brittany.) You can add up to 1/4 cup dried spices, chiles, nuts or seeds, or aromatics like dehydrated minced ginger and dehydrated garlic. For safety, whatever seasonings you add must be dried, not fresh. The version in the photo had dehydrated ginger, star anise, and lots of coarsely ground black pepper. Let the seaweed crisp steep, covered, until cool, then refrigerate in a covered glass or stainless steel container for up to a month.
Scrambled Egg Salad
Starting egg salad this way is a shortcut to boiling and peeling eggs. And the results are creamy—never squeaky—in your mouth. I teased the idea in this story so it's past time to unpack the details. In addition to all the usual places for egg salad, this version is perfect as a topping on plain rice, a spread for crackers, or alongside simply steamed vegetables.