By Evan George and Alex Brown
Forget to make that reservation at the new bistro for Valentine’s Day? Get stuck with a 4:45 p.m. seating time? You know, there’s no shame in cooking for one another. Like Adam and Eve sharing the apple tarte tatin of knowledge, or whatever.
For this V-Day, we wanted to make something indulgent enough to present to sweeties as a St. V present but simple enough to eat by yourself: sticky rice with sweet, tempura-fried baby beets. The recipe isn't too time consuming, so you can spend most of your night cuddling.
Sticky Sweet Baby Fried Beets
2-3 baby red beets, stemmed and trimmed to resemble hearts
1/2 cup sushi rice
1/2 cup warm water
1 1/2 cups coconut milk
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
3 tablespoons sugar, plus a few pinches
2 pinches salt
1 cup tempura flour
The inner scrapings of 3 vanilla beans (or 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract)
Canola oil for frying
1) Bring a small saucepan of water to boil for the beets. Drop beets in for about 8 minutes, or until slightly tender to a fork jab. Remove and cool under water.
3) Skin the beets by running the edge of a spoon gently along the skin. The beets will naturally look a little like hearts; embellish by cutting a “V” in the flat top. Place them on a cutting board and make 4 heart-shaped slices, about 1 centimeter thick. Finely dice the remaining beet matter.
4) Make sticky rice: We use a super-easy microwave method. Start by soaking your rice in warm water for at least 10 minutes. Cover bowl with a plate and nuke for 2 1/2 minutes. Remove, stir and repeat. Rice should be translucent, sticky and fully cooked. Set aside.
5) Put coconut milk in a small sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add cardamom and stir well. Once nearing a boil, remove from heat and stir in sugar and salt. Mix 3/4 cup of the spiced coconut milk into sticky rice and stir thoroughly.
6) In a large mixing bowl, mix tempura flour with the vanilla bean scrapings and 1/2 cup of the coconut sauce to make a thick batter.
7) Bring about 2 cups of canola oil up to high fryin’ temperature (set to high heat for close to 10 minutes) in a small or medium wok. Batter the beet slices, letting excess batter drip off, and quickly fry them, about 1-2 minutes each. Remove, blot gently and let rest on paper towels. Sprinkle tops with sugar while still hot.
8) Divide the remaining coconut sauce between two bowls. In one bowl, add enough diced beets to make a pink sauce. Keep the other sauce white for contrast.
9) To garnish: Tightly stuff a 1 or 2-inch biscuit or cookie cutter with the sticky rice to form two rice cakes. Spoon a tablespoon of of pink sauce on to each cake, then top with 2 beet hearts each. Finish with white coconut sauce and diced beets for contrast. Serve and kiss.
Soundtrack: Al Green’s “Let’s Stay Together”
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