Always Winning

21 Sep

I keep waking up thinking about Thanksgiving. It’s happened several times in the last few weeks. Imagine being deep in a dream where you’re following your father, an international spy, up a mountain/the Great Wall of China–he’s just about to give up the answer to the HUGE LIFE-ALTERING QUESTION you’ve had the whole time (even though you can’t quite seem to articulate what that question is) when BAM. You shoot awake wondering if your grandma will be okay with you making the pies this year. I have also awoken to sudden anxiety over the gravy and what will be used to thicken it, as well as the rolls and how instead of those sweet Hawaiian guys we will be having my own salt & pepper/parmesan drop biscuits. And then I start fantasizing and I can’t meditate because all I can think about is food. It’s honestly a wonder that I don’t weigh 5 times as much as I do, although I suppose thinking about food constantly is not the same as eating food constantly. Anyways, the point is that food is a big part of my life. I’m a musician by trade, so sometimes I feel like I’m having a love affair with food blogging. If it’s wrong then by golly I don’t want to be right!

My mom has Tivo. It’s pretty cool because there is nothing good on TV during the day and when I’m totally laid out sick all I want to do is eat chicken noodle soup and watch a show about chicken noodle soup. And when I visit my mom’s, there is usually a lot of food around and a lot of food TV recorded. I skipped the soup this time and just opted for cuddling the dog and watching Top Chef Masters. Interacting with the television is such a rarity for me that I forgot I can fast forward through the commercials and I end up passing out in a pile of tissues instead. This is not the point. The point of this story is that Top Chef Masters is not the most annoying or brain-melting thing you could watch on TV, and in fact featured one of my good friends, Takashi Yagihashi, for more than half the season! Takashi is an amazing chef who I have had the privilege of knowing for quite some time (I used to babysit his kids when they were tiny and now they’re all in high school or college…whaaaaaa???? how am I that old??). He has been living in Chicago for a while, though, and currently oversees a few of his own totally awesome restaurants there (Takashi and Slurping Turtle).

Anyways, I only watched this show because I enjoyed feeling biased whenever they would have competitions and would throw dirty tissues at the screen if Takashi didn’t win, which wasn’t actually that often. He was dubbed the Quickfire King after all. I also watched this show because it’s pretty impressive to watch people cook up these gourmet dishes with very few ingredients and very little time. However, it’s still a reality show, which means it’s still totally stupid most of the time. Especially when Takashi got voted off (SPOILER OOPS). It was extra stupid then. But Takashi was a great sport, and I think his participation in the show directed some much deserved attention to his food and talents. Yay! And following in such a fashion, today’s recipe is one of his: pork fried rice. To me, this is comfort food.


Note before you make this that some of the ingredients require pre-cooking:

-the barbecued pork is up to you. Char Siu is one of my FAVORITE foods and my (Chinese) uncle Bien makes it the best, but keeps changing/not divulging his recipe (but I know he uses ketchup now!). So for the time being, check out this recipe. You don’t have to skewer and grill tiny pieces, you can marinade the whole tenderloins and cook them in the oven instead.

-cold cooked rice: cook your rice ahead of time and spread it on a sheet tray to cool. You can put it in the fridge for about a half hour to speed things up.

3 Tbsp Tamari

5 tsp rice vinegar

1 Tbsp sesame oil

1/4 tsp sugar

1/4 cup solid vegetable shortening

3/4 lb Chinese barbecued pork (cooked), half cut into 1/2-inch dice and half sliced 1/3 in thick (or tofu or tempeh if you want it veggie!)

1/2 cup frozen peas, thawed

2 large shiitake mushrooms, stems discarded and caps thinly sliced

1 carrot, cut into 1/3-in dice

1 head baby bok choy, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced crosswise

4 large eggs, lightly beaten

6 cups cold cooked Japanese short-grain rice

2 scallions, thinly sliced

pinch of freshly ground pepper & Kosher salt

In a small bowl, stir the soy sauce with the rice vinegar, sesame oil, and sugar.

Heat a very large skillet. Add the shortening and let melt. Add the diced pork and stir-fry over high heat for 1 minute. Add the peas, shiitakes, carrot and bok choy and stir-fry until tender. Add the eggs and scramble just until set.

Stir in the cooked rice, scallions, Tamari mixture and pepper and stir-fry until the rice is hot.

Remove from heat and season with salt. Spoon the fried rice into bowls, top with the sliced pork and serve.


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