Pork Fried Rice

Now that St. Patrick’s Day is safely behind us, I can talk about this dish that has cabbage, lots of green vegetables, and pinkish meat, without it having anything to do with traditional Irish boiled dinner. A head of bok choi (frozen last Spring and unearthed from the depths of the chest freezer), a few farmer’s market finds, some leftover rice and the last of the pork spare ribs made for a quick, easy, yet very satisfying lunch.

According to Food & Wine, pork fried rice was Takashi Yagihashi’s favorite childhood after-school snack, which makes much more sense to me than the typical American way of eating it, as an accompaniment to another meat + vegetable dish, only this one without the starch. (Especially baffling to me are the people who order a Chinese noodle dish with pork-fried rice: I start feeling my Big Night starch-with-a-starch rage coming on.) On the rare occasions that we get take-out Chinese food, I don’t tend to order pork fried rice, because it is usually little more than white rice with a bit of sauce, a few lonely pieces of pork and a frozen pea or two. But, like so many dishes, done at home, where you control the amount, quality and proportions of the ingredients: well, it’s a whole new ballgame.

I made changes to Yagihashi’s original: because I’m not cooking for an army, or a restaurant, I cut the recipe way down; because I only had a few spare ribs left (1 and 1/2 oz of meat without the bones) I made the rice vegetable-heavy, with just a bit of pork for flavor; because I didn’t have peas or mushrooms, I substituted carrots for peas, and left out mushrooms altogether. Such is the joy of cooking for yourself: every recipe can be exactly, and only, what you want it to be. And this rice was exactly that: just what I wanted it to be. Fresh, flavorful, great texture, just enough pork to add a savory note: delightful, really. It may become my new favorite afternoon snack.

Adapted from Pork Fried Rice by Takashi Yagihashi at Food & Wine

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Pork Fried Rice

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 tbsp rice vinegar
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tsp toasted sesame oil
  • pinch sugar
  • 2 tbsp peanut oil
  • 2 to 3 oz cooked pork, diced (Chinese barbecued pork is best, I think, but I used leftover rib meat)
  • 1 large carrot, peeled and diced to 1/4-inch
  • 8 oz bok choi, chopped (I used frozen, thawed, and wrapped in a clean kitchen towel to remove excess water)
  • 2 scallions, sliced, dark green & white parts divided
  • 1 large garlic clove, peeled & minced
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • 2 cups cooked rice, cold (I used short-grain brown rice)
  • salt & freshly ground black pepper to taste

METHODS

  1. In a small bowl, whisk together rice vinegar, soy sauce, sesame oil and sugar. Set aside.
  2. In a large skillet or wok, heat oil over high heat until shimmering. Add pork and stir-fry for 1 minute. Add carrots, bok choi, and white scallion parts. Cook, stirring, until carrots are tender, about 2 – 3 minutes. Add garlic. Cook 1 minute. Add egg, stirring to scramble until cooked. Add rice, soy sauce mixture and green scallions (reserve a few fresh scallions for garnish); cook until rice is warmed through. Remove from heat, taste and adjust seasonings. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Serves 4 as a meal, 6 – 8 as a side.

OPTIONS

  1. I don’t like my fried rice to be overly eggy, so I added only one egg: if you like yours with lots of bits of egg throughout, increase it to 2 eggs.
  2. This wasn’t overly sweet, as I find many pork-fried rice recipes to be; I do think that the classic hoisin Chinese BBQ pork would have been a nice touch here. If you have regular pork shoulder, ribs or other leftover pork, a touch of honey or hoisin in the sauce might be nice.
  3. It’s best to use day-old rice, so it has dried out a bit. If you must use fresh rice, you may want to spread on a baking sheet and dry out in a 200 degree F oven for a few minutes, to keep the rice grains from sticking together in the stir-fry.
  4. I added a thumb-sized piece of minced ginger to my original attempt: the ginger was overpowering and didn’t really play well with the other ingredients, so I’ve omitted it here.

STORE

Up to 5 days, refrigerated.

SEASON

Year round, but with scallions and early-season bok choy, this makes a nice Spring dish.

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4 comments

  1. marmadukescarlet1

    I love this – one of my favourite comfort foods. Look forward to having some leftover roast, rustling this up and curling up on the sofa with a bowl of stirfried rice and some old reruns of CSI on the telly!

  2. I’d never dream of ordering fried rice in a Chinese restaurant (with or without noodles). Ugh. But it’s one of my favorite things to make at home. And makes an excellent dish to take to work for lunch. Yours looks wonderful!

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