Pork & Shiitake Fried Rice

August 26, 2011 § Leave a comment

Let me preface this recipe, which I made up today and makes possibly the best fried rice I’ve had, with a story. A brief story of my day today, which is also the story of a cat defecating and a thundergale. On my way to work today I noticed, trotting before me on a rather deserted uphill stretch of road, a very reasonable black-brown cat. He was moving as some speed. Having waited for such an opportunity for several months in which I might take advantage of some quality cat-socialization, I was afraid he might run off before I could catch up with him. Imagine my luck when he pranced aside into the long grass running along the roadside. How opportune! I was in view of no house or person and my fears of arousing some secret cultural custom forbidding foreigners from making free with cats was silenced. As I drew up alongside this very nice cat, I realized he had stopped to enjoy a bowel movement.

What I anticipated

I stopped and looked at him. He looked at me. We looked at each other awkwardly. I realized that I couldn’t exactly pat him while he was taking a shit. Standing there watching and waiting for him to finish seemed equally out of the question. Yet in those few seconds I had for contemplation, this is exactly what I did. I proceeded to exchanged awkward eye-contact with a cat shoving feces from its bottom. When he was finished I didn’t even have the opportunity to contemplate the appropriateness of a post-dump pat. The cat sprang away from me, horrified. I’m fairly certain I made such an impression on this cat that soon all the cats in the village will know me, wise to my cat-dump-watching-ways, allowing me nowhere near them and their furry, pat-inviting little heads. The damage has been done. I only hope others can learn from my mistake. If you ever find yourself in such a situation, I strongly recommend doing the cat the courtesy of pretending to be ignorant of its bowel activities by continuing on your way. This will save yourself and the cat some embarrassment.

When I got home there was a violent thundergale. This was, perhaps, God’s Judgement.

Afterwards the hawks were drying their feathers in the sun above my front yard.

Here follows a recipe for pork & shiitake fried rice. I really love using Japanese rice in this because it sticks together in clusters, allowing the outsides to crisp while the inside remain pleasantly chewy. The crackly fried garlic and ginger (inspired by Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s fried rice) balance the flavor and texture of the crisp, chewy rice, sweet naganegi, and plush, meaty mushrooms.

5 shiitake mushrooms, sliced
1 naganegi, cut in 1/2 inch long lengths
3 cloves (or more) garlic, minced
equal amount ginger, minced
thinly sliced pork (belly meat preferable)
2 eggs
1 1/2 c (approximately) leftover, cooked short-grain rice (if clumped together, break up)
soy sauce
sesame oil
cooking oil

Heat oil in frying pan or wok till hot. Add garlic and ginger and stir fry until golden brown and crispy. Remove from pan and let drain on paper towel. Salt.
With oil left in pan (add more if necessary), stir fry the naganegi and shiitake mushrooms until soft and starting to change color. Add salt. Remove from pan and reserve in bowl.
Fry the meat until cooked. Place in bowl with naganegi and mushrooms, salt lightly.
Fry the two eggs, scrambling them in the pan until almost done, then remove to bowl.
Add oil to the pan. When hot (very hot!), add the rice and stir fry for approximately 5 minutes. Don’t worry if it starts to stick together, break it up as much as possible with a spatula and make sure to flip it so it cooks evenly and doesn’t burn. When it starts to crisp, turn the heat down and add the vegetables, meat, and eggs back into the pan. Mix together and add approximately 1 1/2 tablespoons soy sauce (to taste), salt, pepper, and finally a drizzle of sesame seed oil. Once combined, serve immediately, sprinkling with the reserved garlic and ginger.


Cream Cheese Pancakes and Lemon Curd

August 15, 2011 § 1 Comment

I made pancakes on Sunday. These pancakes, to be precise. Or, basically anyway. The stores are closed on Sunday and really I was in no mood to leave the house, so I omitted the lemon and blueberries (blueberries are also $1 a berry here). Of course, there is no buttermilk to be had in the northern reaches of Hokkaido. I substituted half whole milk and half heavy cream. Honestly, I will substitute heavy cream for any liquid, in any recipe.

I used a pastry blender to incorporate the cream cheese. It shouldn’t be completely blended, you want little pockets of  cream cheese in the finished product. A bite into these perfectly fat little pancakes rewards with silky mouthfuls of cream cheese. These are thick and fluffy and really really rich. I ate two, and two was too many. Really, when considering making these (meaning my heavy cream-filled version), you just need to ask yourself what kind of pancake girl, man, or horse you are. I like the thick, creamy, but not overly dense variety (yogurt pancakes being my favorite), so these suited me.

I think a nice, tart strawberry reduction and some crisp bacon would have provided the appropriate balance and cut through the richness, but they’re more than satisfying with warm maple syrup and a pat of sweet Hokkaido butter (don’t think about skipping the butter, I’m watching you…. is fattly an adverb? Can it be? It’s so much more sinister and obese than fattily). I cooked the rest of the pancakes and dolloped some of my leftover lemon curd in the middle, They’re in the freezer, waiting. Fattly, if you will.

The many uses of lemon curd. Generally, to be put upon a spoon and inserted into the mouth. I like this recipe a lot, Alton Brown generally being my go-to for everything, from carrot cakes to being a psychic wizard. I’ve actually made this recipe a lot and, like the people in the comments, never had the curd thicken properly (although honestly this isn’t a problem, it will thicken fine when it cools). This time it actually thickened when it was supposed to. This may or may not be beneficial, but I think the difference was using a metal bowl and also properly whisking it the entire time instead of just stirring. Worth a try!

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