My brother loves a ‘lobby’. The kind of thing where you just lob everything into the pan and hope for the best. Despite his enthusiasm for throwing caution to the wind, I tend to be marginally more scientific about it – I start with a recipe, pick it to pieces, keep the bits I like the look of, and change everything else. I don’t apply this principle to baking, I hasten to add – in that case, I would definitely try the recipe first, then make modifications.
This ‘lobby’ started life as a recipe I found on the LCBO (the Ontario alcohol monopoly) Food & Drink website when we were on holiday in Canada a long time ago (that is ‘Jayne speak’ for ‘I have no idea when – it could have been last year or 1923). Over the years, I have modified it again and again, until I ended up with something that suits us perfectly. It is particularly useful, because it is also absolutely delicious served cold the next day, sprinkled with a bit of rice vinegar for sweetness.
The original recipe is for chicken thighs, but I have tried it with both chicken thighs and breasts, sliced pork fillet, any good cut of beef steak, as well as prawns – one of my favourites. I’ve also made this many times with leftover roast pork, beef or chicken – if you are using prawns or cooked meat just add them at the end with the vegetables. On diet days, I halve the amount of rice and whichever protein we choose, and add extra veggies. For a vegan/vegetarian version, either add tofu or miss out the protein element altogether.
As with all ‘lobbies’, you can substitute whatever you have in the fridge. However, I would say that beansprouts are pretty essential here for crunch, as are mange touts or sugar snaps, and some sort of mushroom. I haven’t given exact quantities for the vegetables – just add whatever you think you will eat, bearing in mind this has no accompaniment, it doesn’t need one – and the leftovers are absolutely delicious, so more is good here!
This is one occasion where I would definitely recommend coming over all a bit ‘cheffy’ and having everything minced, sliced and diced before you start. There is a bit of chopping, so depending on your veg chopping speed, and how often you have to stop to put a plaster on, the entire thing shouldn’t take much more than half an hour.
Here’s my version of the recipe:
Asian ‘lobby’ rice pot
Serves 2 – 3 people (or 2 with leftovers)
1 – 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 chicken thighs or one chicken breast, sliced into thin strips, or similar quantity of pork or beef, or a handful of prawns (omit for vegan version, or substitute tofu)
A large knob of ginger (at least 2cm x 2cm) grated or thinly sliced
1 bunch of spring onions, green and white bits, sliced
1 red chilli, thinly sliced (remove the seeds if you don’t like your food too spicy)
1 red pepper, sliced
4 cloves garlic, grated or finely chopped
6 – 8 mushrooms, sliced
1 tablespoon soy sauce
190ml Jasmine rice (measured in a jug)
190ml hot vegetable or chicken stock (or boiling water with a stock cube)
Fresh coriander, leaves and stalks
Broccoli, cut in to small florets
Sugar snaps or mange touts
A couple of big handfuls of beansprouts
Salt & Pepper (optional)*
Heat a couple of tablespoons of vegetable oil in a large shallow sauté pan or wok (you need something on which you can at least balance a lid). Add the chicken or meat strips, or tofu, then add the ginger and cook, stirring constantly, until browned on all sides. Add the spring onions, red pepper and chilli, and cook for a minute or so.
Add the garlic and mushrooms, and cook for a couple of minutes, stirring from time to time.
Now tip in the Jasmine rice, and give everything a good stir – you want to make sure every grain of rice is coated with the oil – this stops it from going clumpy. Then add the chicken stock, the soy sauce and some of the coriander stalks, finely chopped. (I find it easiest to just chop the bottom ends of the stalks while they are still held together as a bunch – much of the flavour is in the stalks, don’t waste it).
Clamp on a lid, turn down the heat to its lowest setting and cook for 10 minutes. Add the broccoli florets (if using prawns or cooked meat, add them now), replace the lid and cook for 3 minutes. Add the mange touts or sugar snaps, replace the lid and cook for another 3 minutes. Finally stir in the bean sprouts until just wilted, add lots of chopped coriander leaves, and serve. As long as your pan is presentable, I would just serve directly from the pan – it keeps the rest hot in case you want seconds (which you inevitably will).
If you have any leftovers – amazingly, we often do – cool it quickly in a shallow bowl in the fridge, then seal. Sprinkle over some rice vinegar before eating, for extra zing.
*Because of the chilli pepper and soy sauce, and depending whether you are using a stock cube, you may not need to add salt & pepper. Taste once the rice is cooked and add if necessary.