Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Char Siu Fried Rice

When Wei and I first started dating, he made me fried rice. Hah, those were the days when he cooked for me. The fried rice was great, but I asked him where was the roast pork. "You know, the little red pieces of pork that Chinese restaurants put in fried rice." "Oh," he said. "You buy that at the Asian grocery store."


Well now, years later, I've found a way to make a pretty close approximation of char siu at home. The recipe comes from the Low-Fat chapter of How to Eat; it uses lean pork tenderloin instead of the traditional, but more fatty, pork shoulder. Nigella says that it "is not quite char siu, it's just char siu-ish." I agree; the flavor is almost perfect. It was a great addition to the fried rice. Speaking of, the rice can take more vegetables besides those that I've listed here; this is just my basic list. Some of my favorites are frozen peas and shiitake mushrooms, but you can really use whatever suits your tastes.

For the char siu:

One pork tenderloin, trimmed of silverskin and excess fat
4 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon tomato paste
3 tablespoons hoisin sauce
2 tablespoons sherry
2 tablespoons honey
2 scant tablespoons brown sugar
1 tablespoon Thai chili sauce
1 teaspoon sesame oil

For the fried rice:

2 eggs, beaten lightly with a little bit of salt
1 onion, chopped
3 medium carrots, peeled and sliced into thin coins
4 garlic cloves, chopped
2 cups of cooked rice, at least a day old
Soy sauce
Chicken broth
Peanut oil
White pepper (optional)

Cut the pork tenderloin in half lengthwise. Whisk together all of the marinade ingredients in a small bowl. Place the tenderloin pieces in a large plastic bag and pour in the marinade. Squish everything around to coat the pork. Leave in the fridge for 24 hours or overnight.

To cook the pork, preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Take the pork out of the marinade, reserving the marinade. Line a baking dish with tin foil and place the pork in it. Bake for 15 minutes, then turn the oven down to 325 degrees F. Take the pork out and brush over some of the reserved marinade. Bake for another 15 minutes, brushing more of the marinade over the pork at 5 minute intervals. Remove from the oven and let the pork cool before cutting it into bite sized pieces for the fried rice.

Warm up a tablespoon of peanut oil in a large wok over high heat. Pour in the beaten eggs and leave them to cook for about a minute--do not touch them! The idea is to make a rough omelette, not scrambled eggs. Flip the egg over to cook the wet side for another minute. When the egg is fully cooked, remove it to a plate.

Warm up another tablespoon of peanut oil over high heat and toss in the onion. Cook until soft, a few minutes. Add the carrot and garlic to the wok and stir fry until the carrot loses its bite, 4 or 5 minutes. Break up the rice into small clumps and put it into the wok. Add a couple of splashes of chicken broth and a couple of tablespoons of soy sauce. Cover contents of the wok with your largest lid and let the rice steam for a couple of minutes. Uncover and stir to combine everything. Add the chopped pork and cooked egg and stir to combine again, breaking up the egg as you do so. Taste and add a bit more soy sauce if you think it needs it. Sprinkle over some white pepper to finish.

Rating: this is awesome

I am really excited about the char siu-ish recipe! It would be great in soup or a noodle dish. I'll definitely be making it again.

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