This dish underscores the cosmopolitan versatility of ramps. A truly native American vegetable, ramps are equally at home in French quiches, Italian pastas, Argentinean chimichurris, and Chinese fried rice.
Fried rice is one of those universally adored dishes, and an excellent way to use leftovers and make use of the last couple of eggs, carrots, and onion halves in your refrigerator. Have some leftover roast chicken or pork tenderloin from the other night? Perfect. Throw that in there, too. And don’t forget that half bag of peas in the freezer!
Fried rice is also a cook-friendly dish and tastes great even with innumerable tweaks and substitutions. This recipe is no exception. Yet it is still rooted in the traditional concoction of leftover rice, aromatic vegetables, dashes of soy sauce and sesame oil, and eggs, of course. Any dish that combines ramps and eggs is a winner, so this recipe seemed a natural.
My version here is light on seasonings and aromatics, to allow the ramps (and rice) to shine. Since ramps have a strong oniony-garlicky flavor, they take the place of garlic and scallions that are commonly added to fried rice. I have also omitted the peas, preferring to let the ramps be the attractive, toothsome green note in the dish.
I like the color and flavor of roasted carrots with a little sweet cream butter, so I start this recipe in the oven. Of course, traditional fried rice is cooked entirely in the wok, and if that’s what you prefer, go for it. The rest of the dish comes together very quickly, and requires constant attention, so measure and prepare all the remaining ingredients before firing up the stove.
¾ cup carrots, peeled and given a small dice
1 tablespoon butter
2 tablespoons neutral flavored oil with high smoke point (avocado, grapeseed, canola)
3 cups day-old rice, chilled in the refrigerator and clumps broken
1 cup ramps; small dice for the white bulbs, rough chop for the greens and burgundy stems
½ cup white onion, finely chopped
1 tablespoon tamari (or soy sauce)
1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
2 eggs, beaten
Salt and black pepper to taste
Heat oven to 425-degrees. Place diced carrots and butter in a pie tin and roast for 10 minutes or until the carrots are tender and begin to caramelize.
Cook the rice in two batches. This is important, because you are frying the rice, not steaming it. Overcrowding the pan—be it with pork chops, Brussels sprouts, or rice grains—will lead to steaming the contents, not frying. Heat a wok or large cast-iron skillet over high heat. Add 1 tablespoon of oil, and as soon as it starts to smoke, add half the rice. Stir frequently, and once the grains gain the slightest color, the palest of browns—about 3 minutes—remove and place in a bowl. Add the remaining tablespoon of oil and repeat the process with the second half of the rice.
Add the first half of the rice back into the wok or skillet and push the grains around the rim, creating open space in the center. Add the ramps, onions, and roasted carrots, and cook for about 30 seconds, undisturbed. Gradually mix the vegetables with the rice, adding the tamari and toasted sesame oil as you continue to stir.
Push the rice mixture to one side of the pan and add the beaten eggs to the other side. Using a spatula, scramble the eggs, and as soon as they set, gently incorporate them into the rice and vegetables.
Season with salt and pepper to suit and serve immediately with chopsticks and Tsingtao.