Another week, another semi-illicit Farmers’ Market Challenge pick-up. For this week’s secret ingredient, Joe sidled up to the table where I was having dinner with Mr. T and some friends to hand me a white plastic bag full of unruly green snakes–garlic scapes–before melting back into the crowd. It’s all very exciting, you see, particularly since I’d never cooked with garlic scapes before. Uncharacteristically, I didn’t do any research at all, merely took a look and a nibble and decided what I wanted to do. They look very Asian-y, and while I’d not eaten them either, I though the garlic scapes would make for a lovely fried rice.

Raw, the scapes were quite bracingly garlic-y. Cooked, they took on a vegetal sweetness, but retained a powerful garlic flavor as well–much to my surprise. They also had a pleasingly substantial crunchy-tender texture that provided a nice contrast to the rice and chewy sausage.  All in all, this was a winner. The scapes definitely were front and center in this dish, but everything else came together behind them to make a tasty, coherent dish that wasn’t overpoweringly garlic-y. Or scape-y, for that matter. I’d be happy to serve this to anyone’s po-po or nai-nai, should they come to dinner.

Garlic Scape Fried Rice
Yield: 6 side servings

2 c white rice

12 oz garlic scapes
4 oz Chinese sausage
2 cloves garlic
2″ piece fresh ginger
3 tbs soy sauce
2 tbs oyster sauce
1 tbs dark sesame oil
1/4 c Shao Xing wine, or dry sherry
1/4 c water
1 tbs vegetable oil
Freshly ground black pepper & salt
2 tbs chopped fresh cilantro

Cook the rice according to package instructions. (If you’re super organized, do this a day in advance and put in the fridge overnight.) If you’re, like me, slightly less than super organized, cook the rice a la minute and immediately spread it out onto a large, rimmed baking sheet to dry out a bit while you pull the rest of your ingredients together.

While the rice is cooking and cooling, slice the scapes into 1″ lengths and set aside. Thinly slice the Chinese sausage on the bias–you’re looking for oval pieces about 1″ long and 1/4″ thick–and set aside. Grate the garlic and ginger on a ginger grater or–VERY CARFULLY–on a microplane and set aside in a small bowl. (The little porcelain teeth of the ginger grater are really the best thing for this job, btw, and as an added bonus, you can’t really shred your thumb in the process.) Combine soy, oyster sauce, sesame oil, shao xing or sherry, ground pepper, and water in a medium bowl and set aside.

Once the rice has been allowed to cool for at least 1o minutes, preheat a wok or really big frying pan over high heat. Add the sausage to the dry pan and cook for a few minutes, stirring rapidly, till the fat renders out and the sausage browns lightly. Remove the sausage and add the vegetable oil to the pan. Bring up to temperature–it should be shimmering if not smoking–and toss in the garlic scapes. Stir fry, tossing energetically, for about two minutes or so, then add the garlic-ginger paste and stir through. Immediately dump in the sauce mixture and stir to combine. Return the sausage to the pan, reduce heat to medium-high, and add the cooled rice.

Mix the rice into the garlic scape mixture carefully but with authority till the rice is evenly colored. This will take a few minutes and that’s fine. Things will be sizzling away. This is good. Just take care to get to the bottom and sides of the pan every go round so that nothing sticks too horrifically. You want the rice to be a little crisped in places. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary. Once the rice is evenly colored and the sauce is fully absorbed, scoop into a serving dish and garnish with the cilantro.