Yangzhou Fried Rice

Yangzhou Fried Rice1

So, I have this soft spot.

It’s pretty frequent that whenever I’m in a shopping center or a private small business or restaurant and I see that the workers/owners aren’t getting much business, I feel really bad and sympathetic towards them. Yes, even if they’re those people that set up the stands in the mall and try to accost you while you’re walking just to test/buy their product. I know that the retail/food industry business is cutthroat and very competitive. I know that it’s not my fault if they have slow business. I know that I’m not obligated to buy anything- and to be honest, I usually don’t. But it doesn’t keep me from empathizing with them either. They have to make a living like everyone else, and their ability to do so or not depends on whether or not they can convince complete strangers to open their wallets. It’s a real sticky, precarious situation when you think about it.

Yangzhou Fried Rice2

Why am I even talking about this? Well, when I was putting together this dish and this post, it made me think of this Asian restaurant that used to be in the food court of the local mall when I was still in grade school, years ago. I won’t say the name of the place, but it was independently owned by this couple that looked like they were in their mid-to upper 50’s. Every time I went to the mall, it just never seemed like anyone was buying anything from this place. The man and his wife would come in and out of the kitchen in the back, filling and emptying the dishes they had available, all the while looking at the passing shoppers as if wishing just a few of them to stop and buy something- anything- from their restaurant. If I can be completely honest, I’ll just go ahead and admit that there was a good reason that this place didn’t get much business. All of the ‘standard fare’ that you’d see in an American Chinese restaurant was on their menu, but the sad reality was that it wasn’t really well seasoned. Like, at all. Their recipes needed serious work.

I can still remember how sorry I felt for them, even as a little girl. And I wished I could’ve been able to tell that I really felt like they would’ve gotten more business if they changed up how they made their fried rice.

Yangzhou Fried Rice3

It’s just my personal opinion, but I do think that a good Chinese restaurant starts with how they make their fried rice. In my experience, if they make excellent fried rice, then chances are the rest of the menu is pretty spot on too. Because let me just say up front one thing that I’ve learned: all fried rice is NOT created equal. I’ve had some really good fried rice over the years, and then I’ve had some that was frankly, pretty terrible. It wasn’t until I decided to make some for myself that I realized how easy it is for fried rice to go wrong. And to be perfectly honest, there are a couple of Chinese restaurants I’ve been to that make fried rice that taste even better than this recipe. But nobody’s perfect, and I do have to say that I’m pleased with how it came out for my first time….er, maybe my second. Technically.

Yangzhou Fried Rice4

See, technically my first attempt didn’t turn out so well. I maaaaaaay have ruined the first batch of Jasmine rice that I made. The rice is supposed to be one day old, so I made the Jasmine rice the night before I wanted to make the fried rice. It was really late at night and I was in a hurry to get to bed, so long story short, I don’t think I let it cook long enough. There was too much moisture still in the rice by the next day so the grains stuck together. Have you ever tried to ‘stir-fry’ gummy rice? It doesn’t work very well. And turns out, it tastes pretty bad too.

As rotten luck would have it, that was all the fresh Jasmine rice I had. All that was left in my pantry was Minute rice that you steam in water in the microwave. So I was forced to call in the cavalry on this one, folks. It’s still rice, it just didn’t need that long to cook. You won’t hold it against me, will you? I mean, it turned out into a pretty yummy dish. And now, you guys know that this dish can me made with Minute Rice and still turn out pretty awesome. It’s all apart of Cooking is My Sport Quality Control, I swear.

I’ll be bringing this dish to this week’s Fiesta Friday #39, hosted by Angie@TheNoviceGardener and co-hosted this week by Suzanne @apuginthekitchen and Sue @Birgerbird, See you there!

 

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Yangzhou Fried Rice

Recipe Courtesy of Ching-He Hunag

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons peanut oil
  • 3 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 tablespoon peeled and grated ginger
  • 1 medium carrot, cut in 1/4-inch dice
  • 4 ounces cooked Chinese pork (char siu) or ham, cut in 1/4-inch dice
  • 3 fresh shiitake mushrooms, stemmed and diced
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • 3 cups cooked jasmine rice, a day old
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons light soy sauce
  • Sea salt and freshly ground white pepper
  • 1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
  • 1 to 2 green onions, sliced on a diagonal, for garnish

Directions

1. For the fried rice: Heat a wok over high heat and add 1 tablespoon peanut oil. Add the eggs and scramble, then set aside on a plate.

2. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon peanut oil to the wok. Add the ginger and stir-fry for less than 1 minute. Then add the carrots and stir-fry for 1 minute more.

3. Add the pork, and mushrooms and cook for 2 minutes. Then add the peas and cooked rice and toss together. Add the cooked egg back into the wok.

4. Season the mixture with the light soy sauce, salt and pepper. At the very end add the sesame oil, if using. Check the seasoning and adjust to taste with salt and pepper. Garnish with green onions and serve immediately.

Smothered Steak and Onions

Smothered Steak2

Did you guys know that today is National Comfort Food Day?

Did any of you know that there WAS a National Comfort Food Day?

Me neither. At least, not until I saw that it was through my Facebook news feed on on Food.com. I thought it was a great coincidence and surprise considering the newest post that I had for you all. This dish is as ‘comfort food-ey’ as it gets. The ingredients are short, sweet and to the point: meat, gravy, and a starch. Is there anything else you could possibly want from comfort food? I think not.

As a self-professed foodie, I love testing out new recipes that are different, or require a unique cooking or baking form that I haven’t really tried before. I like experimenting with new flavors and spices. There are very few things that I’m not willing to try. However, there are sometimes when I just want to have no frills, bells or whistles, stick to your ribs, comfort food.

Sometimes,I just gotta have the simple things.

Smothered Steak1

I had some steak in my freezer that I wanted to hurry up and use, as well as some onion leftover from Thanksgiving. I asked Ashley what she thought I should do with it, and she suggested making steak and rice with gravy.

Steak and rice with gravy is one of my grandpa’s favorite things for my grandma to make for him, so growing up, I ate my share of it. Hers is (of course) absolutely delicious. However, it’s also one of those recipes that she makes without a real ‘recipe’- meaning, she just throws all the ingredients together and it just turns out tasting fantastic every single time.

I’m working up to that level, guys. I am working on it. This dish was one of those efforts toward Grandma’s level. I took what I had in the kitchen, threw it together, and hoped that it would turn out right.

I also wrote down the amounts of the ingredients as I went along so that I could make sure that you guys could have it too.

I’m actually pretty proud of myself for making this dish off the top of my head: it’s delicious. The steak is made very tender when baked in the oven and thus ‘smothered’ by the thick, hearty gravy. It’s just asking to be served over some kind of starch- my family eats it with rice rice, but mashed potatoes or egg noodles would be just as delicious.

Meat lovers will LOVE this dish. And non-meat lovers? I’m pretty sure they’d like it too in spite of themselves.

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Smothered Steak & Onions

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Ingredients

*2  1/2 lbs of bottom round steak, pounded to about 1/4 inch thick

* 1 large Vidalia onion, thinly sliced

* 1 tablespoon of Weber Chicago Steak Seasoning

* 1 tablespoon Emeril’s Essence

* 1 tablespoon garlic powder

* 1 tablespoon onion powder

* Olive oil, for the skillet

* 1 teaspoon salt

* 2 cups low sodium beef broth

* About 1/4 cup flour

* 3 tablespoons heavy cream

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 350°.  Season steak with steak seasoning, Emeril’s Essence seasoning, onion powder and garlic powder.

2. Pour olive oil in bottom of a cast iron skillet or regular frying pan. Cook steak over medium- high heat until browned on the outside, about 3 minutes per side (note: it does NOT need to be cooked all the way through). Remove steak to a plate and cover with aluminum foil, leaving the drippings in the skillet.

3. Add onions to skillet and cook until they are limp, translucent and slightly caramelized. Remove from pan and set aside.

4. Lower heat to medium. Add flour to skillet, stirring for a minute or two. Add chicken broth and heavy cream, stirring until flour has cooked down completely and gravy has thickened.

5. Place steak and onions back to the skillet and stir to combine with the gray. Cover with aluminum foil and bake in preheated oven for 30 minutes.

6. Remove aluminum foil from skillet and check seasoning of gravy. If necessary, add the one teaspoon of salt. Stir steak and onions, then place skillet back in the oven uncovered, for ten more minutes.

7. Serve over white rice, egg noodles or mashed potatoes.

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