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
- 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
- In a small bowl, whisk together rice vinegar, soy sauce, sesame oil and sugar. Set aside.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
Up to 5 days, refrigerated.
Year round, but with scallions and early-season bok choy, this makes a nice Spring dish.