We’ve loved working with Jessica Koslow in the past, she’s shown us around LA’s farmers markets, and cooked for us at LA events. Now, she’s been kind enough to share a recipe from her recent cookbook – the signature dish at the ever popular Sqirl. The rice bowl is delicious on its own, but rewards experimentation. (We recommend adding bacon pieces for that little extra something).
Fermented jalapeño hot sauce
3 cups (600 g) medium-grain brown rice, preferably Kokuho Rose
fine sea salt
½ cup plus 2 teaspoons (130 ml) extra-virgin olive oil
1 cup (25 g) lightly packed kale leaves (stems removed)
2 cups (50 g) lightly packed chopped sorrel leaves
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill, plus more for serving
1 preserved Meyer lemon, flesh removed, peel finely chopped
2 to 4 small watermelon radishes, very thinly sliced
¼ cup (60 ml) fermented jalapeño hot sauce (see below)
¾ cup (85 g) crumbled sheep’s-milk feta
6 poached eggs
fleur de sel
freshly ground black pepper
Fine sea salt or diamond crystal kosher salt, as needed
Makes about 2½ cups (600 ml) (gluten free and vegan)
20 jalapeño peppers (1 pound/455 g total)
Fine sea salt or diamond crystal kosher salt, as needed (see Note)
1 cup (240 ml) distilled white vinegar
Fermented jalapeño hot sauce
Boil the rice in plenty of salted water until it’s tender, 30 to 45 minutes. Drain and let cool.
Meanwhile, make the sorrel pesto: In a blender or food processor, combine ½ cup (120 ml) of the oil, kale, sorrel and 1 tablespoon of the lemon juice. Blend until smooth, stopping and scraping down the sides as needed. Season with salt to taste.
In a large bowl, toss the rice with the dill, preserved lemon peel, 1 tablespoon of the lemon juice and the pesto. Taste and add a bit more salt, if needed. In a small bowl, toss the radish with the remaining 1 tablespoon lemon juice, the remaining 2 teaspoons oil and a pinch of salt. Set aside to marinate for a few minutes, until the radish is pliable and tender.
To serve, divide the rice among six bowls. Spoon a line of hot sauce across the rice. Arrange a little clump of feta on one side and a rosette of radish slices on the other side. Set a poached egg in the middle of each bowl and season it with fleur de sel and black pepper. Garnish with a tiny sprig or two of dill.
Make it yours
Think of this rice bowl as a solid base for you to build upon. Don’t like poached eggs? Leave them out. Make it a Meat Lovers’ by adding bacon and breakfast sausage. Or go the vegan route and substitute kale for the feta and eggs.
Preserved Meyer lemons recipe
With one hand, hold a lemon stem-side down on a cutting board. With the other hand (and a knife), cut down through the middle of the lemon, stopping when you have almost reached the stem. Rotate the lemon 90 degrees and cut down through the middle once again, creating a cross-shaped cut. You should now have a lemon that is held together at the stem end and that flowers open into four quarters on the blossom end.
Hold the cut lemon over a bowl. Pull it open and stuff in a really big pinch (about 1 tablespoon) of salt. Continue stuffing the cut lemons with salt, picking up and reusing any salt that falls into the bowl.
Turn each lemon upside down so that the cut end is pointed straight down to the bowl, and press the lemon against the bottom of the bowl to make it splay open. It’s okay if the quarters break apart. Put the flattened lemon into a crock or a nonreactive container such as a jar, and press down to compress it. Add more lemons as needed to fill the container.
If you’re using a crock, set a ceramic weight or plate on top of the lemons to weigh them down. If you’re using a jar or some other container, you’ll need to fill a plastic bag with a brine made of 2 cups (480 ml) water and ¼ cup (35 g) salt. Get as much air out of the bag as possible, then seal it well. Pack the bag weight into the jar on top of the lemons, sealing the salted lemons from the air. Instead of using a bag weight, you could use a smaller jar that fits inside and weighs down the salted lemons. Cover with cheesecloth and secure it with a rubber band.
Label and date the jar, then let it sit in a dark, cool spot, covered, for about 2 weeks. During summer, it only takes about 10 days, but during winter, it sometimes takes 4 weeks. You’ll know the lemons are done preserving when the white pith is not white anymore; it will be translucent.
Once they are preserved, they will keep in the refrigerator for months.
To use the preserved lemons, discard any seeds, scrape off the juicy flesh part (and save for making salad dressing), and use only the rind.
During the first few hours, the lemons should release enough liquid to stay fully submerged. If they don’t, dissolve 2 tablespoons salt in 1 cup (240 ml) water and pour in enough of this brine to cover.
Fermented jalapeño hot sauce recipe
This hot sauce is lacto-fermented right up to the point when we boil it.
Cut the tops off the jalapeños, then slice each pepper in half lengthwise. Remove and discard the seeds. Chop the peppers into big pieces, put them in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a metal blade, and blend until mostly pureed but still a little bit chunky. Weigh the blended jalapeños, then use this equation to figure out exactly how much salt to add: grams of blended jalapeños x 0.075 = grams of kosher salt. Stir the salt into the blended jalapeños, then scrape the mash into a clean jar. (You’ll need a jar that is slightly bigger than 1 pint/480 ml.)
Now choose a slightly smaller jar that will fit within the jar holding the jalapeño mash, weighing the mash down so it is fully submerged. Alternatively, if you don’t have a smaller jar, make a brine using the same ratio of salt to water. So, for 480 ml (2 cups) water, you’ll need to add 36 g/¼ cup of salt. Pour the brine into a plastic bag, get as much air out of the bag as possible, and then seal it well. Put the brine-filled bag directly on top of the mash in the jar, making sure the bag is covering the mash completely so that no air can get to the mixture. Label and date the jar, then let it sit in a dark, cool spot for 4 weeks.
Don’t be afraid if you see white mold or some Kahm yeast growing on top of the mixture. Just skim it off and make sure the bag is still sealing the fermenting mixture from the air.
After 4 weeks, transfer the fermented pepper mixture to a nonreactive pot and stir in the vinegar. Bring to a boil. Remove from the heat, then carefully puree in a blender on high speed until uniform and saucy.
Store the fermented jalapeño hot sauce in an airtight container in the fridge. It will keep for at least 6 months.
Book: Everything I Want to Eat: Sqirl and the New California Cooking by Jessica Koslow, published by Abrams
Photography: © 2016 Jaime Beecham