One of the things Angela Dimayuga loves most about California is the scent of eucalyptus in the air. She captures it in this rice dish by perfuming it with both ground dried bay leaves and fresh ones. That aroma also reminds her of Turkey and its hammam spas. This dish not only delivers that fragrance, it also makes you feel as if you’re relaxing in a hammam because it’s both light and satisfying. You can buy both dried and fresh bay leaves at the market and use the beautiful fresh ones to decorate your serving platter as well. Recipe adapted from Angela Dimayuga.
Hammam Bay Leaf Rice
Use a spice grinder or mortar and pestle to grind the dried bay leaves into a fine powder.
Place the rice and quinoa in a rice cooker bowl and add enough cold water to cover by an inch. Massage the rice and quinoa with your hands, then carefully pour out the water, leaving the rice mixture behind. Repeat until the water runs clear, about 2 more times. Add the fresh bay leaves, dried bay leaf powder and 3 cups water. Stir well, then put the bowl in the rice cooker and set to cook.
Just before serving, pour the ghee over the rice and quinoa. Use a rice paddle to loosen the rice-quinoa mixture and mix until the ghee is evenly incorporated. Season to taste with salt, then spread on a serving platter and scatter dill on top. Nestle the egg yolks in their shells into the mixture, if using. Garnish with more fresh bay leaves, instructing your guests to not eat them. Serve immediately, giving each guest one yolk with an equal portion of rice and telling them to tip the yolk onto the rice and mix it in before eating.
Soy-Cured Egg Yolks
Give an egg a firm tap on a hard work surface or kitchen counter. Split the shell in half crosswise and gently pour out the egg white into an airtight container. Pour the egg yolk and any remaining white in the shells into one hand and let the remaining white slip through your fingers and into the container while you steady the yolk on your fingers. Carefully slide the yolk back into one half of the shell without popping it. Add a teaspoon of soy sauce and swirl gently so that the soy sauce runs under the yolk. Stand the shell with the yolk up in the egg carton. Repeat with 5 more eggs. (You may pop some yolks or end up with unevenly cracked shells in the process. If that happens, save those eggs with the whites and reserve them all for another use.)
Close the egg carton top and refrigerate for 2 to 3 hours to allow the yolks to cure.