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Here's What Happens When You Ask A Chef To Make You Breakfast

Jessica Koslow from L.A.'s Sqirl holds the key to your heart and it's crispy and spicy and topped with an egg.

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It feels like Los Angeles is beating most other cities in the battle for satisfying, trend-setting food right now, and that's partly because of chef Jessica Koslow her tiny (even by NYC standards) spot Sqirl. What started as a seasonal jam operation at farmers' markets ("You never quite know when her blueberry jam with thyme is going to be sold out for the year," wrote Jonathan Gold in 2012) is now a 20-seat, "sort-of cafe," in the city's hipster SIlver Lake neighborhood. When you go to Sqirl, you will likely wait in a long line of young people, squint at an overwhelming chalkboard menu, order at the counter, then have to passive aggressively fight someone wearing an all denim, drop-crotch jumpsuit for a table while you wait. You will possibly become cranky, but then get your food and decide it was all definitely worth it.

Initially Sqirl got a lot of press because of Koslow's toasts — brioche smothered with things like Santa Rosa plum jam, thinly sliced pecorino and topped with bacon and a fried egg — lots of "OH MY GOD PEOPLE IN L.A. ARE PAYING $7 FOR TRENDY TOAST" headlines. And while Famous Toast And Jam seems like an obvious choice for our BuzzFeed Breakfast column, the Sqirl dish to show you how to make right now, since it's not exactly preserving season, is Sqirl's spicy, herb-y crispy brown rice bowl with house-fermented hot sauce.

Here's why: This dish and others at Sqirl seem to combine the Asian flavors made hot by chefs like David Chang and Andy Ricker with the grain bowls and eggs on top made hot by Pinterest. The magic here is the crunchy rice, which you have to boil the night before, let it dry out overnight, and then fry until it's golden brown and crispy. The good news is that once you've gone to the trouble to make it, crispy rice keeps for months in an airtight container at room temp and you will want to put it on everything because it's amazing. To make it, Koslow uses locally grown organic brown rice from Koda Farms, the oldest family-run rice farm in the U.S. She discovered them in an effort to try to find farmers that are doing interesting work close to where the restaurant is, she says, and Sqirl now has a separate storage facility reserved for this rice because they order about 2,000 pounds of it every month. That amount seems insane until you taste it fried and understand its popularity.

The secondary magic of this dish is a fermented jalapeño hot sauce that we will show you how to make, but you can also just use Sriracha. And Koslow will definitely be back to the BuzzFeed Test Kitchen to show us how to make her Famous Toast and Jam some day, don't worry. —Emily Fleischaker

A heads up before we start: One of the best parts of this dish is a fermented jalapeño hot sauce that takes four weeks to make. You should probably make it because it's so good, but you can use Sriracha instead.

Lauren Zaser / BuzzFeed

Get the fermented jalapeño hot sauce recipe here. That said, if you want to eat this rice bowl NOW...well, I understand. You can substitute Sriracha for the hot sauce or, if you're in the Los Angeles area, you can buy a jar of it from Sqirl.

1. Start with the rice: You need to boil it the day before you cook this breakfast so that it can sit in the fridge overnight to dry out.

Lauren Zaser / BuzzFeed

Bring a pot of salted water to a boil, then add 1 cup short grain brown rice and cook for 45-50 minutes, until it's tender. You can use any short or medium-grain brown rice for this recipe. At Sqirl, chef uses Koda Farms whole grain brown rice, which she thinks is the absolute best.

7. Another reason this rice bowl is delicious is that it's tossed in lemongrass and ginger-infused lemon juice. You should make this in advance and let it sit in the fridge overnight. First, juice 2 lemons.

Lauren Zaser / BuzzFeed

If you forget, you can totally make it in the morning and just let it sit for at least half an hour before assembling the rice bowl.

10. Use something heavy to crush the lemongrass. We used a pot, but you can use a mallet if you have one.

11. Cut the lemongrass into pieces about 4 inches long and add them to the lemon juice. Let all of that sit. If you're refrigerating it overnight, cover it with plastic wrap.

12. The morning you want to eat this, you'll prepare the remaining components of the rice bowl. First, thinly slice 2 Persian cucumbers. If you don't have a mandoline, you can use a knife.

Lauren Zaser / BuzzFeed

Persian cucumbers are small (4-5 inches long) and sweeter than other cucumbers. If you can't find them, you can just use one seedless English cucumber and cut it in half, lengthwise, before slicing it.

14. Thinly slice 3 scallions.

Chef likes to cut some on a severe bias (so that the pieces are long and pointy) and some just slightly diagonally (so that the pieces are short and round). This just adds some variation in texture to the rice bowl.

16. Once the rice has dried out in the fridge overnight, it's ready to fry. Put it in a bowl, then line the baking sheet with a new layer of paper towels. This is where you'll put the rice after it's fried, to let it cool and drain some of the oil.

17. Heat about an inch of oil in a large cast-iron skillet* over medium-high heat until it's about 350°F. If you don't have a thermometer, that's OK. Once the oil is hot and shimmering but not smoking, add the rice.

Lauren Zaser / BuzzFeed

*A cast iron skillet works best, but you can do this in any heavy-bottomed skillet or sauce pan, as long as the sides are high enough that the oil won't overflow and low enough that you can still reach in and take the rice out with a fine mesh strainer.

18. Fry the rice until it's golden brown and crispy, about 2 minutes, moving it around the pan occasionally. Use a fine mesh skimmer to pick the rice up out of the oil.

At Sqirl, this dish is served at room temperature. We think it's best that way, so try and let your rice cool for 20 minutes or so. That said, if you're super hungry, I guess you ~could~ eat it warm.

20. Chef doesn't like fried eggs with a crispy bottom, so she cooks them halfway on the stove and halfway in the oven. To do this, first preheat your oven to 400°F, then melt a tablespoon of butter in a large, ovenproof nonstick skillet over medium-low heat.

Lauren Zaser / BuzzFeed

If you want, you can fry your eggs on the stove. A couple of months ago, chef Jamie Bissonnette was at the BuzzFeed Test Kitchen and he showed us a really great way to fry eggs on the stove without browning the bottoms.

21. Crack two eggs* into the melted butter, season with salt and pepper, then put the skillet into the oven.

Lauren Zaser / BuzzFeed

*Yes, there's only one egg pictured. You're making two rice bowls, though, so fry two. They'll both fit.

25. Add some of the lemongrass and ginger-infused lemon juice, and mix everything up.

Lauren Zaser / BuzzFeed

Probably 2-3 tablespoons of dressing, but it really depends on your taste.

Crispy Rice Bowl with Lemongrass, Mint, Cucumber, and Ginger

Serves 2

Recipe by Jessica Koslow

INGREDIENTS

1 cup short or medium-grain brown rice, uncooked

Juice of 2 lemons

2-inch knob of ginger, cut into rough 1-inch pieces

1 stalk lemongrass

2 Persian cucumbers (or 1 English cucumber), thinly sliced

1/4 cup mint leaves

1/4 cup cilantro leaves, roughly chopped

3 scallions, whites and greens, thinly sliced

Canola oil, for frying (about 2 cups)

kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

2-3 tablespoons fermented jalapeño hot sauce or Sriracha

Sea salt (optional)

1 tablespoon unsalted butter

2 large eggs

PREPARATION

1. The night before you plan to make the rice bowl, cook the rice according to the package directions, then lay the cooked rice out over a large baking sheet lined with paper towels. Refrigerate overnight.

2. You can also make the infused lemon juice the night before: Cut the root end off of the lemongrass, and peel off the outermost layer. Use a mallet or sauce pan to crush the lemongrass (this brings out the flavor), then cut it into 3-inch pieces. Combine the lemon juice, chopped ginger, and lemongrass in a medium bowl. Refrigerate overnight. (If you're not making the lemon juice the night before, let it sit for 30 minutes before adding it to the rice bowl.)

3. When you're ready to make the rice bowl, preheat the oven to 400°F and line a large, rimmed baking sheet with paper towels.

4. To fry the rice: Fill a large cast-iron (or other heavy-bottomed) skillet with enough canola oil so that it's about 1 inch deep. Heat the oil over medium-high heat until it's 350°F. (If you don't have a thermometer, heat until it's hot and shimmering but not smoking.) Carefully add the rice to the hot oil. Fry until it's golden brown and crispy, about 2 minutes, moving the rice around the pan occasionally. When the rice is done, use a fine mesh skimmer to pick the rice up out of the oil. Put the finished rice on the paper towel-lined baking sheet, then season it with salt and pepper.

5. Let the rice cool to room temperature. When the rice has cooled, transfer it to a large mixing bowl. Add the sliced cucumbers, mint leaves, chopped cilantro, and sliced scallions. Set the bowl aside while you fry the eggs.

6. To fry the eggs: Melt the butter in a large, ovenproof nonstick skillet over medium-low heat. Crack 2 eggs into the pan, then season with salt and pepper. Transfer the skillet to the preheated oven and cook until the whites are set but the yolks are still runny, 3-4 minutes. When the eggs are cooked, let them sit in the skillet while you dress and toss the rice bowl.

7. Add 2-3 tablespoons lemon juice and 2-3 tablespoons fermented hot sauce (or Sriracha) to the mixing bowl with the rice mixture. How much you use depends on how acidic or spicy you want the rice bowl to be. Season with salt and pepper, and toss everything together to coat and combine.

8. Divide the mixture between two plates or bowls, then top each with an egg. Sprinkle a little bit of sea salt on top, if you want, and serve immediately.

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