Filled with the early summer veggies, Leek, Beet and Radish Fried Rice with Buttery Lobster is a quick and easy recipe with sweet, salty and savory flavors.
In three short days, we’ll celebrate our third anniversary of moving to Maine. I’ll never forget that move — the rushed trip up here on June 26 to sign the lease and change my driver’s license to Maine (it was to expire on my birthday the following day in Connecticut), followed by a trip back to Connecticut for all our stuff and then a trip back to unload, unpack and settle in. Thank goodness for my family who helped me pack, unpack and get a little order in our new home. And now it’s been three years … and we’re still in the same townhouse. Wanting to move isn’t quite the same as finding a place to move to — and can we talk about how competitive the housing market is? No, no, I digress … we can come back to that another time. Hopefully when I have good news to share.
Moving here, I had a few preconceived notions that I’ve learned aren’t quite the case.
For instance, on the highway there are signs warning of moose crossings. Try as I might, I have never ever seen a moose crossing near them. Heck, I haven’t seen a moose at all. I am not sure they are even real. I mean, the state makes this big deal about moose. There’s those signs, there’s instruction on how to drive if you’re about to hit a moose and even a big lottery held each year for hunters to get permits to shoot a moose during moose season (they are eaten and it helps with population control). But no, I’ve never seen one at all. I wonder if they aren’t just some marketing ploy to bring more people to the northern reaches of Maine.
Kidding. I am kidding.
Well, sort of.
I also thought that lobster was the chicken of the state. On my trips here as I interviewed for my job and then prepared to move, I saw it on menu after menu — lobster club sandwiches, lobster wontons, lobster bisque. So surely it must be something eaten all the time, right? Well, sorry to disappoint, but not really. I mean it’s definitely plentiful and shows up often (there was a lobster and artichoke heart pizza that stole my heart a few summers back), but it’s not quite as common as chicken. And just because people live here doesn’t mean they like it.
My son pointed out recently how seldom we eat lobster. He loves it. So do I. But my daughter and my significant other don’t, so it’s just not a go-to for us. But with school out for summer and the kids having had an awesome academic year (and a pretty great year with their extracurriculars), it seemed like a good time for a treat.
So on a night when it was just the kids and me, Leek, Beet and Radish Fried Rice with Buttery Lobster was on the menu for my son and I. For my 9-year-old daughter, I whipped up an Easy Roasted Teriyaki Salmon filet to have with the rice instead of lobster. Everyone was happy.
Fried rice is something I love to play with. In this version, the veggies of early summer — namely baby beets and their greens, radishes and leeks — are the stars of the dish.
Start by prepping the veggies. The leeks need to be halved, thinly sliced and soaked to remove any dirt hidden between the layers. The itty bitty baby beets need to be removed from the greens, quartered and thinly sliced and the radishes do too. And then the beet greens need to be chopped — the stems should be cooked with the beets, leeks and radishes, while the leaves reserved for later. Once this is done, the cooking happens pretty swiftly.
Saute the leeks, beets and radishes until they’re tender and then add the beet greens. Once they just start to wilt, add the sesame oil and rice and stir well — first the rice into the oil and then together with the veggies. Finally, remove from the burner and drizzle with soy sauce. Stir well.
The rice is ready. Then you just have to warm the lobster. I buy lobster meat that’s already been plucked from its shell at our local fishmonger, Dorr Lobster Co., but you could also just buy a lobster, steam it and remove the meat yourself. However you do it, you need about a third of a pound of meat for this — that’s about the meat from a single 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 lb lobster.
Anyway, warm that lobster in a little melted butter. Mmmm …
Then divide the rice evenly among four plates or shallow bowls. Top with lobster and dig in.
The fried rice is earthy, savory and with a hint of saltiness from the soy sauce. The lobster is a buttery companion that compliments the flavor. And all together, it’s just delightful.
It’s Maine. Maybe we should eat lobster more.
Leek, Beet and Radish Fried Rice with Buttery Lobster
- 1 bunch beet greens (about enough for 4 cups greens) with baby beets attached
- 2-3 leeks , halved, thinly sliced and soaked
- 1 bunch radishes , quartered and thinly sliced
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- salt and pepper , to taste
- 1 tbsp sesame oil
- 1 cup dry jasmine rice , prepared
- 1/3 cup soy sauce
- 1 tbsp salted butter
- 1/3 lb lobster meat , chopped
- Remove the baby beets from the greens. Quarter and then thinly slice them. Also thinly slice the stems. Add stems and beets to a medium bowl with the drained leeks and prepared radishes.
- Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Once hot, add the beets, leeks and radishes. Season with salt and pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender.
- Meanwhile, chop the beet greens into small pieces. Add to the pan and stir to combine. Once they begin to wilt, push all the veggies to one side and add the sesame oil to the exposed pan. Immediately add the prepared rice and stir vigorously into the oil and then together with the veggies.
- Remove from heat and drizzle with soy sauce. Stir well. Season additionally with salt and pepper, as needed.
- Melt the butter in a sauce pan. Add the lobster and warm gently for 3-4 minutes, stirring continuously.
- Divide the fried rice evenly among four plates. Top each with 1/3 of the lobster mixture. Enjoy.
Sarah Walker Caron is a cookbook author, freelance writer and founder of Sarah’s Cucina Bella. Her latest cookbook is The Super Easy 5-Ingredient Cookbook, published by Rockridge Press, which focuses on quick, easy, from-scratch cooking for busy people. A single mother to two kids in middle school, Sarah loves nightly family dinners, juicy tomatoes plucked fresh from the vine and lazy days on the beach. She also adores reading and traveling.