Boy’s 5th grade class had a “Far East Fest” yesterday. They have been studying Asia in Global Studies and yesterday was the culmination of weeks and weeks of learning. There were presentations, demonstrations, decorations, libations, and, um…food (I can’t think of a word for food that ends in “-ation”, so we’ll just let that little pattern die right there.)
Boy did a presentation on Samurai Warriors with some buddies. There were demonstrations on origami, abacuses (abaci? abacusi? what’s the plural of that darned word?) and lots of other cool topics. Lots of parents banded together and brought TONS of food. There was Teriyaki chicken, fried rice, lo mein, egg rolls, sushi, potstickers, cool Japanese soda with a marble in the lid, almond cookies, fortune cookies, Korean pears, ginger candy and on and on…. Well, I was tasked with bringing massive amounts of plain, steamed white rice (for the Teriyaki to be served over, etc. and for the kids that are too picky to try the other things.) I took this responsibility VERY seriously. I brought in both my rice cooker (which is large) and my mother’s (which is GIGANTIC) and cooked a whole, large bag of Thai Jasmine rice (over 10 cups). Well, Boy’s fancy school has some pretty adventuresome eaters: the eggrolls were gone; the potstickers were decimated; the sushi was inhaled; the Lo Mein was dispatched (welcome to “Feed Your Kids, the thesaurus edition”), but the plain white rice, well, it was just too plain. Kids took a sampling, but I was left with an AMAZING amount left over. I momentarily considered making the family of raccoons that are currently living under my deck VERY happy, by leaving it for them (they LOVED our gingerbread houses this year), but decided that I didn’t want them to get too friendly and figured I would use the leftover rice (about 15 cups, I think) to make something creative.
So…here’s the first use of this massive amount of leftover rice:
Pork Fried Rice
2 Tbsp dry sherry, divided
2 Tbsp soy sauce, divided
1 Tbsp (about 2 large cloves) garlic, minced or run through a press
1 Tbsp fresh, minced ginger root
1 Tbsp toasted sesame oil
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
3/4 cup chopped red bell pepper
1/2 cup sliced green onion
1 cup frozen green peas, thawed
about 2 cups fresh sugar snap peas
about 1 cup coarsely chopped carrot, blanched or steamed in water (microwave is fine) until slightly softened, and then drained
1 pound boneless pork chops, thinly sliced (loin or sirloin, your choice)
2 Tbsp oyster sauce or hoisin sauce
about 6 cups leftover cooked white rice
peanut oil (about 1/4 cup, but have more on hand, just in case)
a little fresh cilantro, optional
NOTE: This recipe is VERY adaptable. Feel free to use your favorite veggies – whatever you have on hand or whatever might be seasonal (suggestions: small broccoli florets, bean sprouts, snow peas, corn kernels, mushrooms, onion). I bought some canned water chestnuts (Girl’s favorite), bamboo shoots and baby corn, but forgot to put them in. They would have been a nice addition (make sure they’re very well drained and rinsed.) 13-year olds are SO polite when they’re disappointed that you’ve left out their favorite ingredient. Umm…yeah, no.
OK – a word on stir fries: it’s very important that everything is ready to go and “put in place/mise en place” before you get started; you need to be able to move fast to toss things in the pan.
OK – a word on pans. They should be big and wide and heavy (capable of holding lots of heat). Ideally, you would make this in a wok. Oddly, I don’t have a wok, even though I just had a birthday and dropped TONS of hints. Oh, well…
OK – back to mise en place. Here’s mine…
Yes, a cocktail is an essential part of the mise en place. We have used a “Cape Cod” cocktail here (for illustration purposes only, of course.) Cocktails substitutions are OK and will not impact the final flavor of the dish.
OK…let’s get started…
Toss the pork with 1 Tbsp of the sherry and 1 Tbsp of the soy sauce. Set aside for 30 minutes to let it marinate. Drain, discarding the sauce.
Heat about 1 Tbsp of the oil (use a little more if you need it to lightly coat the ENTIRE inner surface of your pan) over medium-high heat, until the oil looks a little “wavy” but has not started to smoke. Add the beaten egg and lightly tilt the pan until the egg makes a thin sheet over the surface of the pan. As soon as the egg has started to cook through on the bottom (do NOT let the egg brown), flip the entire “sheet” of egg over the lightly cook the other side. Err on the side of undercooking here; the egg will finish cooking off the heat and can cook a little more when you toss it into the rice at the end. You want it nice and golden, not brown at all. Remove the egg from the pan and set it aside on a plate.
Add a little bit more oil (1 to 2 Tbsp) to the pan and reheat it to medium-high. Add the pork and very lightly stir it until all of the pork pieces are lightly coated with oil. Keeping the pan on fairly high heat, let the pork pieces rest relatively still. *See note below. When they have browned on one side and are starting to cook in the middle, flip/stir the pieces over to brown on the other side. When the pork is lightly browned on all sides, remove it from the pan and set it aside. Pour the oyster sauce or hoisin sauce over it.
*As the pork cooks, cut the egg into small pieces.
Add a tiny bit more oil to the pan (1 Tbsp) and bring it back up to medium-high. Add the sugar snap peas, carrots, ginger and garlic. Stir to lightly coat all ingredients, making sure to not let the garlic burn. When all ingredients have heated through and peas are starting to turn a brighter green, quickly pour in the remaining sherry and let it boil off, stirring quickly to scrape up browned bits (from the pork) from the bottom of the pan.
Add the red bell peppers and peas and continue stirring until they are slightly softened. Add the pork and hoisin or oyster sauce mixture, stirring gently to warm and combine. *See note below.
Crumble in the rice, about 1/2 cup at a time, breaking up any large clumps with your fingers, until you achieve the desired pork/vegetable/rice ratio.
*This would be a GREAT place to add things like WATER CHESTNUTS, bamboo shoots and/or baby corn, if you want to make your 13-year old happy – but why in the world would you want to do that???
Toss in the egg and green onions.
(Feel free to make a donation to pay for desperately-needed photography classes.)
Pour in soy sauce, and sesame oil and toss gently to distribute. Sprinkle with cilantro, if using. Serve immediately.
Serving size will vary. Plan on a double portion for 11-year old boys. Serve with sriracha for any Hubbys that might be lurking around.