In this unique recipe, Chef Elise Kornack turns fluffy, fragrant rice into a crispy treat. She presses spiced basmati into a hot skillet to give it a crunchy bottom layer, similar to Persian tahdig. Flip the rice cake onto a plate, slice it into wedges, and serve it with perfectly fried eggs for an impressive brunch or a fun dinner!
Rice: Place rice in a strainer set over a medium pot. Rinse rice several times under cold running water until the rinse-water turns clear. Combine the drained rice and fresh water in the pot, and bring to a simmer over medium-high heat. Meanwhile, in a small pan over low heat, toast spices until aromatic, shaking the pan and stirring occasionally, 1–2 minutes. When aromatic, transfer spices to a bowl to prevent residual heat from burning them. When rice is simmering, add the toasted spices and salt. Stir, cover, reduce heat to low, and cook for 10 minutes.
After 10 minutes, remove rice from heat and allow to rest, uncovered. Meanwhile, preheat a cast-iron skillet over high heat for the rice, and preheat a medium nonstick pan over low heat for the fried eggs. The cast-iron skillet is sufficiently hot when you can feel the heat radiating from 1 inch above the bottom of the skillet. Add 3 tablespoons of olive oil to the skillet and swirl to thoroughly coat the sides and bottom; place skillet back on the stove. Break up the rice in the pot with your hands: the rice should feel soft and almost overcooked, which will help the cake keep its shape. Add rice to the cast-iron skillet in an even layer, enough for a ½-inch thick cake. (Reserve leftover rice for another use, or for a second cake.) Use the back of a greased spoon to press down the cake, shaping it and removing any air pockets. Once the rice has been evenly pressed, use a fork to poke holes into 3 spots around the rice cake so steam can escape. Drizzle remaining 2 tablespoons of oil evenly around the outside edge of the cake so the sides don't stick. Turn heat to medium-low and cook, uncovered, for 15 minutes. Meanwhile, fry the eggs.
Eggs: Raise the heat under the nonstick pan to medium and add the oil; swirl the pan to coat, then add butter. When butter is melted, foamy, and slightly brown with a nutty aroma, reduce heat to low. Crack two eggs into the pan without letting them touch. Turn heat to high, season with a pinch of salt, and cook until whites have begun to set but the yolk is still runny, 1–2 minutes. Meanwhile, check to see if the sides of the rice cake are beginning to pull away from the skillet. Press down with the back of a spoon once more to keep the cake solid.
For a sunny-side-up egg: Baste only the whites with the hot butter-oil to finish cooking them (without cooking the yolk). Transfer the egg to a plate. For over-medium egg: Turn the heat to low, gently flip the egg, cook for 10 more seconds, then transfer to a plate. Repeat with remaining eggs.
The rice cake is done when the grains are audibly crackling and popping, and the edges of the cake pull away from the sides of the skillet. Turn off heat and lay a large plate on top of the skillet. Using towels or pot holders, grab both the plate and the skillet on opposite sides. Carefully but quickly flip the skillet and plate to release the rice cake from the skillet (you should hear it dropping onto the plate). Lift the skillet to reveal a golden, crispy rice cake.
Assembly: Slice the rice cake into 6 wedges. Top each wedge with an egg, sprinkled with red pepper flakes. Sprinkle a pinch of salt over the rice; place a spoonful of raspberry jam on the side. Grate Parmesan over the top. Tear bitter greens into bite-size pieces and plate on the side. Serve.