Hangover Helper: Spicy Potato, Bok Choy, and Shallot Hash
This is the kind of breakfast that happens when I plan to go grocery shopping on a Friday night. This is never a good idea. Let me give you an idea of how it works:
The Plan: I wake up Friday morning fresh and dewy-faced, ready for a full day of work, followed by a trip to New York Mart for some produce, a quick subway ride home, and a few hours of cooking. My wife gets home, we enjoy dinner, play a couple rounds of online Jeopardy!, catch an episode of How I Met Your Mother, and hit the sack early, ready to face a hearty breakfast in the morning.
The Reality: I wake up Friday morning barely getting over a cold from earlier in the week, head in for a day at work, get caught in meetings all morning before finally getting to start my real work in the late afternoon, don't get as much done as I hoped, and decide to say, "screw it, it's Friday, time for happy hour." Rather than grocery shopping, I get a cocktail, realize that New York Mart is now closed, acknowledge the grave error I've made in my meal planning, and send down another cocktail to keep the first one company. My wife ends up meeting me downtown for another cocktail, followed by dinner out (that's a bottle of wine and an after dinner drink), and since we've already decided to make a night of it, we might as well really make a night of it. Next thing I know, it's noon on Saturday, the dog needs to be walked, and I've got nothing but a bag of bok choy, a shallot, a few potatoes and a couple of eggs in my pantry to nurse us back to good health.
Thank god for hash, right?
Hash is the ultimate leftover-consumer. All you need is a starchy root vegetable to form the base (potatoes are the usual choice, sweet potatoes or beets are great too), whatever leftovers you have on hand—cooked meat, greens, vegetables, whatever—a good cast iron skillet, and a couple of eggs and you've got on hand the makings of a breakfast that will frighten any hangover into quiet submission.
The best way to get good fluffy/crisp texture out of your potatoes is to boil them, dry them, then fry them, but who's got time for all that when there's a headache that needs tending to?
Instead, it's much easier to just slice the potatoes, put them on a plate, and microwave them for the initial cooking step. This'll let you soften them and cook them through without having to worry about them getting waterlogged or too wet on their exterior, and what takes 10 minutes in a pot takes under 3 minutes in the nuker. Once par-cooked, I add the potatoes to a hot skillet to begin the crisping/charring process while I roughly chop up some baby bok choy (brussels sprouts or cabbage would do great in its place) and slice a shallot (yes, you can use an onion if you prefer). With the potatoes half cooked, the other vegetables hit the pan.
Cabbages (like bok choy) develop an awesomely nutty, sweet flavor when they char. By the time the potatoes are completely crisp, the bok choy is perfectly wilted, nutty, and crisp in spots, the shallots are soft and sweet, and the hangover has begun to let out a faint, high-pitched whimper of fear.
The nail in the coffin? A small handful of chopped chilis (I use ultra-hot Thai bird chilis because New York Mart sells them in unreasonably large packages and thus I constantly need to find uses for them—you can use serrano or jalapeño), and a dash of hot sauce for the vinegar and the heat.
I like to serve it directly in the hot skillet, topped with a runny egg or two for oozing and a little spoonful of hot pepper relish (I used Pastene brand Hot Crushed Pepper). Start to finish, it takes under 15 minutes, which means it's hot and on the table all before my wife is even back with the dog.
A great way to start your Saturday afternoon bright and early.
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About the author: J. Kenji Lopez-Alt is the Managing Editor of Serious Eats where he likes to explore the science of home cooking in his weekly column The Food Lab. You can follow him at @thefoodlab on Twitter, or at The Food Lab on Facebook.