Soup with rice in it is not unusual. There's chicken rice, tomato rice, and turkey rice, to name just a few. But who's ever heard of soup with a side of rice? Probably no one, aside from those who regularly dine at Shopsin's.
Kenny Shopsin, author of this week's Cook the Book selection Eat Me: The Food and Philosophy of Kenny Shopsin, and chef/owner of the eponymous restaurant in New York's Lower East Side, dedicates an entire section of his menu to "Yin/Yang Soup Combinations." Patrons can mix and match as they please to suit their outlandish tastes: Asparagus and Blue Cheese Soup with Hot Vegan Sausage Rice; Rutabaga Pumpkin Soup with Fried Mushroom Rice; Smoked Beef Brisket BBQ Soup with Guacamole Rice. I could go on and on.
In his book, Kenny says that the idea for the Yin/Yang combinations stems from his aversion to throwing away ingredients, even if they are slightly past their prime: "I guess I'm like Alice Waters in that way, only instead of using the freshest vegetables I can find, as she does, I use the oldest vegetables I can find."
Today's recipe is for a simple Coconut Rice, which is the base for all of Kenny's variations, including Tofu Peas, and Peanut Rice, and Pistachio Ricotta Rice, for which I will also provide instructions. Don't feel stymied by these dishes—the formulas are anything but strict. Use "whatever you have around and like to eat."
- Yield:2 servings
- 2 cups cooked white rice (preferably day old)
- 1/3 cup heavy cream
- 1/2 cup chicken stock, or any stock or broth, or more as needed
- 1/2 cup sweetened angel flake coconut (more if you really love coconut)
Preheat a griddle or large sauté pan over high heat until very hot. Add the rice, cream, and stock. You want the liquid to cover the rice but not so much that a lot of liquid leaks around the sides of the mound of rice. Sprinkle the coconut on top of the rice, cover, and steam until the rice is warm and the liquid had been absorbed. If there is too much liquid, remove the lid to cook off the excess.
Tofu, Peas, and Peanut Rice
Use half a small package of firm tofu, a handful of frozen peas, and a handful of crushed peanuts. Follow the instructions for Coconut Rice, but add the tofu, peas, and peanuts instead of the coconut.
Pistachio Ricotta Rice
Use a handful of pistachios and 1/4 cup fresh whole-milk ricotta cheese. Follow the instructions for Coconut Rice, but add the pistachios instead of the coconut and fold in the ricotta when the rice is done.