Today, it finally caught up with me... When McDreamy came home from work, I told him that undead zombies have more energy than me! Looking at the fridge, I only had enough energy to whip something out of leftovers *in zombie mode*: BBQ Pork Fried Rice.
My father taught me this recipe and it is genius how a recipe that uses good, basic ingredients can make something so incredibly delicious. Thank goodness he taught me this recipe or else it would be forever lost.
Lately, I have been having an atrocious time trying to find recipes for certain honest, home-cooked Cantonese dishes. Instead, I have found 5 completely different versions of the same recipe. Asking friends and family members was also entertaining: I got very vague amounts for ingredients and equally perplexing instructions! OR the classic response "Go buy it from T&T!". Ummm.... I live 6.5 hours away from the nearest T&T Asian Supermarket and I really do want to make these classic dishes from scratch.
Because of this frustrating experience, I vow to document my family recipes and hand it down to further generations. Now the irony: I normally *guestimate* this recipe in true Chinese cooking fashion because this dish is so forgiving.
I am not usually so organized but this recipe is pretty easy to get the stuff together in no time: leftover rice, beaten eggs, frozen veggies, diced cooked meat.
Preheat wok or large 6L/6qt pot to medium-high heat and add canola oil. Add just enough oil to cover the bottom of the pan. The bottom of my wok is 7-inches, so I used about 1 Tbsp oil. For my 6L/6qt pot, about 1-2 Tbsp. This is a rough estimate, as you need just enough to cover the bottom so the beaten eggs don't stick to the pan.
Boy, I am so lucky to get lovely farm fresh eggs! These eggs were from a friend that lives just 5 minutes away.
Add the beaten eggs to the pan and cook 1-2 minutes. It will spread out and look like you are making an omelette.
When the eggs are half-cooked, dump the cold (and hardened) day-old rice into the undercooked eggs. I used about 8 cups of cooked rice. With a spoon or spatula, mix the rice and eggs up occasionally. The eggs will break up and distribute into the rice evenly. The rice will soften as well.
My tip: use cold, day-old rice. If the rice is too freshly cooked, then the fried rice will get mushy and break up. A lot of Asian food is based on texture, so unless you like mushy fried rice, day-old rice straight from the fridge is best.
I have used leftover white rice, brown rice and a mixture of both. It's all good... use what you like.
Let the rice and egg mixture cook for another 2-3 minutes. Notice how the cooked egg is nice and golden and already in little pieces? Beautiful!
Now you can add the thawed and precooked (microwaved) peas and stirfry for another 2-3 minutes. I noticed that my father and authentic Chinese restaurants used only green peas. Our local Chinese/Western restaurant used mixed frozen vegetables and I thought it was a great way to get those extra veggies into the kids. The beauty is that I don't have to wash, peel and cut any veggies!
Since most of the ingredients are already cooked, it is just a matter of warming them up in the wok. Next goes 2 cups of BBQ pork into the mixture. My father was so creative in his fried rice. His ability to adapt it to different kinds of meat shaped how I change other recipes to my needs. He has made different versions with deli black forest ham, diced hot dogs, grocery store rotisserie chicken, BBQ pork, spam...well, whatever we had in the house.
The dish is almost finished. Now it's time to season it. I grew up using Lee Kum Kee's Premium Oyster Sauce Brand. I'm sure there are other brands but my family has always stuck to this one and I know that my dishes are going to taste like "Dad's". There is also a vegetarian stir-fry sauce and I think Lee Kum Kee had originally labelled it as vegetarian mushroom oyster sauce many years back.
What I normally do is add 1 Tbsp oyster sauce at a time. 2 Tbsp max. as there is a strong oyster flavour nuance. With the right amount, it gives the dish umami, or that "je ne sais quoi" pleasant savory flavour that one can't exactly pinpoint. Then add salt in 1/4 tsp increments until it tastes just right. I usually add about 1/2 tsp kosher salt and it is flavourful and salty enough. Some people are watching their salt intake, so seasoning is very subjective. Some may need more or less. *Disclaimer - so that people won't say this dish is too salty or too bland!*
Garnish with finely chopped green onions (toss it about) and serve. I usually omit this for the children, but the green onions add a bit of freshness to the dish.
Mmmmm... Almost like Dad's!
OK, here's another shot since it looks yummy...
Woody's BBQ Pork Fried Rice
1-2 Tbsp canola oil (I use 1 Tbsp oil for my 7-inch bottomed wok)
8-10 cups cold, cooked rice (white, brown or both, preferably from the night before)
2 large eggs, beaten
2 cups frozen peas, thawed, cooked (I used mixed frozen vegetables, thawed in microwave)
2 cups diced BBQ pork or char siu, or any kinds of cooked meat or extra-firm tofu.
2 Tbsp oyster sauce
1/2 tsp kosher salt, or to taste
1 stalk green onion, finely chopped (optional garnish)
Heat oil in wok or large 6L/6qt pot under medium-high heat. Use barely enough oil (1-2 Tbsp) to cover the bottom of the pan so the eggs will not stick.
Add the beaten eggs to the hot oil and cook 1-2 minutes. When the eggs are half cooked, dump the cold rice into the eggs and mix well with spatula or large spoon for 2-3 minutes. During this time, the eggs will quickly cook and distribute evenly.
Then add the precooked vegetables and cook for 2-3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Mix the diced cooked meat or tofu into the rice and cook for another 2-3 minutes. Season with oyster sauce and salt, accordingly to your taste. Garnish with finely diced green onion, if desired and serve.
Dinner is served! Some kiddies (like mine) don't like their food touching, so I bought these divided Corelle dishes. I got them at our local hardware store, but I've seen them at Walmart. It's a huge dinner sized plate. Instead of fighting their quirks, I work around it. At least the kids know that their main food groups are covered.
My children's dinner: sliced BBQ pork tenderloin, Greek salad and BBQ pork fried rice. My 7 year-old had 2 helpings of Greek salad and 3 helpings of rice!