Friday, August 19, 2011

Teppanyaki Fried Rice with Pork

Thursday lunch: Ham sandwiches.

That was what I had jotted down on Saturday when I had decided to try my hand at planning a whole week's menu in advance. OK, I'll admit it. I'm an impromptu grocery shopper and I can be over eager at the store, often buying more than what I can use (especially vegetables). Then I'll end up feeling guilty when I have to throw out mushy, rotting produce a week or two down the road. No longer! I'm proud to report that I've stuck to my menu like wallpaper glue (GG will appreciate this analogy - inside joke, sorry) and have so far, cooked every dish specified for that day...that is, until today.

Scratch the ham sandwiches. Today, I broke off from my menu and made this pork teppanyaki fried rice for lunch instead. I have a good reason though. My son's best friend had stayed the night and he happens to love my cooking, especially my fried rice. I won't go into too many details except to say that this poor kid has suffered through quite a bit of bad luck and heartache this year. I feel for what he's gone through and for what he's still going through so if my fried rice can bring him some comfort and delight, then it's totally worth it.

When I go to a teppanyaki restaurant, their fried rice is often the biggest draw for me, next to the fancy knife work. I usually watch in fascination as they slather ungodly amounts of butter onto the super hot grill followed by garlic, peas, carrots, rice and a good amount of soy sauce. The chef will then deftly chop up some green onions for garnish and finish it off with a few sprinkles of sesame seeds on top before dishing it out to the eager crowd.

Although this is an easy recipe to emulate at home, I try not to make this type of fried rice too often because of the generous use of butter. However, when life calls for a good bowl of fried rice, this recipe won't let you down.

Serves 6.

(Note: I omitted peas in my recipe because my kids aren't fond of peas but feel free to add about a cup of it into yours.)

6 cups of day old rice, preferably Calrose or some other short grain rice
3/4 lb. of lean, finely diced pork
1 cup of finely diced carrots
3 cloves of garlic, minced
2 to 3 stalks of green onion, chopped, with green parts and white stem portions separated
3 large eggs, beaten
4 tbsp. of butter, divided
6 tbsp. of good quality soy sauce
1 tbsp. of sesame seeds
A few sprinkles of pepper (to taste)
A sprinkle of salt (to season the pork)

On left: day old rice, minced garlic and butter.
On right: beaten eggs, finely diced pork, finely diced carrots and chopped scallions (white part)

I recommend using a good quality soy sauce.
I like the Lee Kum Kee brand.

(Note: Due to the high heat of the teppanyaki grill, the restaurant version will typically have a charred, smoky flavor. It won't be as easy to replicate this flavor at home due to the fact that most stoves don't get that hot. Therefore, I highly recommend cooking the rice in two to three batches in order to maintain a very high level of heat while frying the ingredients and rice. If you don't break it up into batches, your fried rice will become soggy so be warned!)

1. Season the pork with a little salt and pepper.

2. Heat a wok over high heat. Add a tablespoon of butter to it and allow it to melt. Add the minced garlic to the work and cook for half a minute, stirring constantly to prevent it from burning. When the garlic is fragrant, add the minced pork to the wok and stir fry for a few minutes until no longer pink. Next, add the diced carrots and white stem portions of the green onion to the wok. Continue to stir fry for a few more minutes so that they soften up.

3. Move the ingredients off to the side of the wok and add the beaten egg in the center. Scramble the egg quickly. Once it has solidified, mix it into the rest of the ingredients.

4. Add the rice, soy sauce and remaining butter into the wok. Break up the rice and mix well with the other ingredients. Stir fry for 5 to 8 minutes or until the rice has softened and is heated through, and the soy sauce and butter has coated the grains. Pepper to taste.

5. Transfer to a large dish or serve in individual serving bowls. Garnish with chopped green onion (the green part) and sprinkle sesame seeds on top. Serve hot.

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