Thursday, November 18, 2010

Pork Fried Rice

For a long time, I was afraid to attempt to make fried rice because I thought it would be too difficult. I'm not sure why... somehow I was afraid that any rice I made simply wouldn't live up to the restaurant creations I had grown to love. But about a year ago, I was feeling adventurous and found this recipe from It was an instant hit.

This is one of the few recipes I've made so many times that I actually have it memorized. It's definitely one of my go-to recipes these days.

It's funny to me now that I was once so afraid of this dish, because it's really very easy... especially if you let the grocery store do half the work for you! The key is to do all the prep work before you get cooking and have everything ready, because it really goes fast once you get going.

Normally, I'm all for starting with whole ingredients and doing the extra prep work myself. But this is one case where it's really worth it to shop for convenience. Yes, you could use unboiled rice, but I find that minute rice works just as well and takes a third of the time to prepare. Sure, you could buy the green beans, carrots, and peas all separately, but the bag of frozen mixed veggies provides everything for only the effort it takes to cut open the bag. And the ham? Not only do I find it more convenient to buy the pre-cubed package, but I find that it's actually cheaper! But if you splurge on only one thing, I strongly encourage you, friends, use sesame oil! Don't bother with any of your standard cooking oils... it just won't taste the same, trust me. Plus once you get a whiff of that warm, toasty sesame oil wafting through your kitchen, you won't ever want to use another oil again.

What's nice about this recipe, too, is that it goes quite far. With our busy schedules and limited food budget, Dane and I find that it's nice to make enough food for dinner that we can eat it again the next day for lunch, and this is one of the few recipes that not only tastes just as good reheated, it actually tastes better the longer it sits. This recipe will make at least 4 meal-sized servings if not more, so there's plenty for lunch the next day and maybe even the day after. Plus, it smells so good that people at work get jealous of what you're eating... and that's got to feel good, right? :)

So how to? Click to read on.

Pork Fried Rice
2 cups of brown rice
5 tbsp of toasted sesame oil
about 2 cups of cubed ham
half of a medium yellow onion, finely diced
3-4 scallions, thinly sliced, whites and greens separated
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1 small bag (about 2 cups) of frozen mixed vegetables (corn, peas, green beans)
4 eggs, beaten
salt and pepper

Start with the rice.  You don't want soggy rice for this dish, so follow package directions but use just a little less water. I like to make enough rice for 4 servings according to the package.

Next, in a large wok, heat 1 tbsp of the sesame oil over medium heat (I like to set my stove one click toward the high side). You'll be able to smell when it's hot enough. Add the ham all at once, stir to coat evenly, and let brown. I like to let it sit until the little ham pieces start popping... stir a couple of times and let brown on at least two sides.

Add the onion to the ham. Let the onion begin to brown, then add the garlic and the scallion whites. Allow the garlic to heat but be careful not to let it burn. Once the garlic is fragrant, add the mixed veggies, stir well, and lightly cover the wok with foil (or a lid, if yours has one). Season with a generous pinch of salt and a few grinds of pepper (I never measure, haha). Allow the veggies to cook, stirring every so often, until they are tender and heated through. I find the green beans take the longest to cook, so tasting one is a good way to know if the veggies are ready yet. Transfer everything to a large bowl.

Next, heat another tbsp of oil. Scramble the eggs with another pinch of salt and a grind or two of pepper, and be careful not to overcook. Transfer to the large bowl with the other ingredients and combine.

Heat the remaining 3 tbsp of oil... you'll want the oil very hot for this step. Add the cooked rice all at once, stir to evenly coat, and let sit for about a minute to get crispy. Add the scallion greens and season with another pinch of salt and some pepper. Stir thoroughly, and let sit again for another minute. Transfer to the large bowl with the other ingredients and combine. Allow the final product to rest for a few minutes before serving.

Add a little soy sauce if desired, and enjoy. :)

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