We've been eating a lot of rice hot pots lately, which are perfect for a drizzly midweek meal. Dolsot bibimbap is one of my favorite dishes to order in Korean restaurants, and I always feel so grateful to the chefs who prepare the selection of delectable toppings that are arranged so beautifully in the sizzling bowl of rice. Then I started playing around with heating up rice on the stovetop in stone bowls we'd bought for soup, and I realized that a rice hot pot can be infinitely flexible and an ingenious way to make the most of midweek leftovers and the bounty of our weekly Good Food Easy CSA share.
The strategy is to cook up a big pot of brown rice or other grain over the weekend, or if you are really planning ahead, freeze meal-sized portions. Then search your pantry, refrigerator, and freezer and assemble a selection of topping ingredients loosely around the five elements below (realizing of course, that every formula was meant to be broken, and many ingredients fit into more than one category). The bowl above, for example, contained Sweetwater Farm kale, rehydrated shiitake mushrooms, and leftover Fair Valley Farm ham, with a side of kimchi. This is a short order chef type of meal with multiple burners going, but it can come together quickly. First rub a little sesame oil in individual stone bowls or a cast iron skillet, pack down a cup of rice for each serving, and start warming the bowls or skillet over low heat. Then prepare your toppings and pile them into the bowls or skillet as you go, ending with an egg on top.
Some greens: quickly blanched, steamed, or sautéed, then tossed with a splash of sesame oil, and perhaps some sesame seeds.
Some protein: leftover ham, steak, chicken, quickly sautéed and finished with a splash of soy sauce and rice wine; baked or caramelized tofu; edamame beans; fried or poached egg.
Something umami: mushrooms, such as rehydrated shiitakes, quickly sautéed with a splash of soy.
Fresh and crunchy vegetables: shredded carrot, sliced cucumber, sliced radish.
Pickled vegetables: homemade kimchi, pickled chard stems, fermented green beans, refrigerator pickles.
Rice Hot Pots
serves four4 cups cooked brown rice
1 bunch kale (or chard or spinach)
1 cup cubed ham (or other meat or tofu or edamame beans)
8 large dried shiitake mushrooms
1-2 carrots shredded (or 1 cucumber cut lengthwise into quarters and thinly sliced)
for garnish: kimchi, pickled vegetables, dried seaweed, sesame seeds, gochujang or sriracha sauce
1. For 4 cups of cooked rice, use 2 cup dried rice. Rinse in a small mesh sieve, then place in a pot with 3 cups water. Cover and bring to a boil. Turn the heat to low and cook, covered for about 30 minutes, until the water is absorbed. Fluff with a fork. You can cook this ahead of time.
2. Boil 1/2 cup water and pour over the dried shiitake mushrooms to rehydrate them.
3. I prepare a meal for four in two individual stone bowls (for the adults) and a cast iron skillet of toasted rice for the kids, who prefer their toppings separate, which leaves one burner for preparing the toppings. Rub about 1 tsp of sesame oil into each stone bowl or 2 tsp into the cast iron skillet. Start to warm the bowls and skillet over medium low flames. Pack one cup of rice per person into each bowl (two in the skillet). Keep them warming over low heat for about 15 minutes while you prepare the rest of the toppings, and a delicious toasted rice coating will form on the bottom. You should hear the rice sizzling and should smell it toasting. If you are nervous that it is burning, use a spatula to pry underneath and take a peak, and you can always turn it off, but not before you have a good layer of toasted rice.
4. Rinse and chop your greens. You could blanch them quickly in boiling water, steam them in the microwave with a splash of water, or quickly sauté them in another skillet. When they are tender, but not wilted, toss them with a splash of sesame oil and a pinch of salt and layer them into one quadrant of the rice bowls or two opposite quadrants of the skillet.
5. Cube the meat or tofu. In your working skillet, sauté the cubes over medium high heat in a little canola oil , and when they are hot, add 1 tsp each of soy sauce and rice wine. Cook until these evaporate and then transfer to another quadrant of the rice bowls/skillet.
6. Slice the rehydrated mushroom. In your working skillet, sauté the mushroom slices over medium high heat, allowing the moisture to cook off, add 1 tsp soy sauce, cook down, and then transfer to another quadrant of the rice bowls/skillet.
7. Turn the heat under your working skillet to low and crack in four eggs. While these are frying, prepare the crunchy fresh vegetable toppings and gather your pickled toppings. When the egg are cooked to the desired stage, transfer them to the top of each hot pot or skillet half and sprinkle with sesame seeds.
8. Carefully transfer the hot pots or skillet onto coasters on the table. Have people add desired crunchy fresh and pickled toppings and hot sauce. Enjoy.