We always want to eat well, but don’t always want to spend hours in a hot kitchen. That’s when throw-together-dishes like this Asian rice bowl are welcome, using whatever’s on hand. This recipe for seasoned Asian rice topped with a fried egg came about one evening when Muriel Chen from Blue Eye Dragon Taiwanese Restaurant gave me some pickled vegetables and deep-fried shallots that her mum, Jade, had made. Asian rice bowls are more a concept than a recipe and as long as you have a few Asian staples in the pantry and fridge you can make your own version; skip the egg for a vegan version or add some leftover seafood, meat or poultry to bulk it up. See the notes below for suggested variations and descriptions of the more unusual ingredients and the video below for another easy, delicious Asian rice dish. You’ll find gochujang (Korean chilli paste), kimchi (Korean fermented cabbage), pickled mustard greens, fried shallots and furikake rice seasoning at Asian grocers and some delis. I really enjoy Asian rice bowls with a glass of vermentino, especially the one from Victorian winery Billy Button, it has enough body to handle the Asian flavours while being bone dry on the finish.
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I like the subtle heat of gochujang, but you can use sambal oelek or any other chilli.
You don’t need both pickled mustard greens and kimchi, just double the quantity of either one, use another Asian pickle, or leave them out altogether.
Deep-fried shallots add great crunch, freshly made are best but commercial ones are a handy stand-by (check the best-before-date as they do go rancid, and store them in the fridge). To make deep-fried shallots: finely slice red shallots and deep-fry in vegetable oil until crisp and golden. The oil should be hot enough that they don’t go soggy but not too hot, as they need to cook for a few minutes to get an even golden colour; stir regularly so steam can escape and they stay crisp. Refrigerate leftovers for a week or two. See step-by-step video here.
Furikake is a Japanese rice seasoning made from dried seaweed and sesame seeds, some versions also contain dried bonito so read the label, once you have it in the pantry you’ll put it on everything.
Add flaked smoked rainbow trout or shredded poached chicken instead of the fried egg if you like.