Lemons Lemons are one of my favorite flavor enhancers but you need to be careful of the white pith. If you cook the pith, it turns very bitter. Cooking the rind or pulp is fine but never use the pith or seeds. I remember discovering this disturbing fact cooking chicken piccata for the first time. I thought I could enhance the flavor by cooking lemon slices in the sauce but instead I got a bitter taste I couldn't correct with sugar.
My Favorite Pan My favorite pan is a twenty dollar cast iron pan. I remember vividly how my step-father coveted his iron pan and warned us about not using soap to clean it. Seasoned and maintained properly, an iron pan can last forever. It is better than any non stick pan and far more durable. It's thick base holds heat better than any pan in my arsenal and prevents food from burning by dispersing the heat.
My wife Aida taught me how to make this Filipino dish with leftover Jasmine rice and heaps of garlic. I instantly fell in love with it! It's great by itself, almost like fried rice, or as a side dish but with more pizzaz than plain rice. And who doesn't like garlic fried to perfection, right? If you are nodding you're head then Filipino food is for you!
Cut the hard brown end off the garlic clove as it's hard and doesn't taste good. Smash the clove lightly with the flat side of your Chef's knife and your hand to separate the garlic from the skin. Peel off the skin and smash it more heavily with your chef's knife to flatten and break it apart.
Fry the smashed garlic in a Wok over medium heat. If you don't have a wok, feel free to use any pan you feel comfortable with and is large enough to hold all the rice easily. A wok is nice since the oil pools at the bottom in the cylindrical well, making it easier to deep fry the garlic.
Continuously stir the garlic while it is cooking till all garlic pieces turn a beautiful golden brown. As the garlic cooks, it infuses the oil with that garlicky goodness often described as sweet and savory. Make sure not to overcook the garlic as it will become bitter.
Breakup the leftover rice in your hand as you are adding it to the wok. My wife says wet your hands and the rice won't stick but I found it sticks halfway through the crumbling process anyhow. You can use fresh rice but my wife swears by leftover rice so I have never broken the taboo, despite my curiosity. Cook the rice till it is warmed and soft again, breaking up the stubborn chunks of rice with a spatula.
Serve the rice as a bed for any dish like a stir fry, beef stew or anything with sauce. It also works well as a side dish for fish, shrimp or any protein, but especially seafood in my opinion. It's easy to make and so satisfying that you can even eat it by itself.