I’ve never been much of one for resolutions, but the holidays have a way of making you think about life, don’t they? Or maybe it’s just turning 30 that’s finally catching up with me. Either way, I keep thinking about just how necessary it is to do–and try, and feel–new things. The first two decades of my life were definitely characterized by seeking out new challenges and having new experiences. Pushing myself. And while the past five or ten years have certainly not been lacking in the new experiences realm, the focus of my life is no longer all about me. There’s a “we.” An “us.” A “her.” Yet, still, I need to remember the “me.” I need to cultivate my interests and find new ones. I have to encourage myself to try things. Things that might be a little bit scary. (So many clichés I could use here!) I have pork roast to thank for that reminder.
Yep, pork. I made a pork roast for Christmas. Roasted Pork Loin with Cardamon-Currant Jelly Sauce. It was a giant hunk of meat with six bones sticking out the top (side?). I had to use a meat thermometer. (Well, I actually made my husband use a meat thermometer, and we somehow managed to break two of them.) I should have used a roasting pan, but I don’t have one. A baking dish was a good stand in.
It was exciting to cook something I’ve never made before. I felt pretty darn accomplished to take an unknown cut of pig all the way from the Whole Foods meat counter to the Christmas dinner table. And guess what? It was delicious. I left my comfort zone and didn’t fail. That was a Christmas joy.
But you can’t stay out of your comfort zone too long. It’s good to return to what’s easy and known. Fried rice, my friends. Fried rice. The day after Christmas we went out to dinner, but the next night, I used the leftovers in the fridge to feed the crowd. I knew I could make something serviceable. But the fried rice that ended up on the table, steaming hot in the electric wok, was notable. It was a fried rice I’d like to eat over and over again. And a mighty fine way to use up holiday leftovers.
Fried Rice with Pork and Brussels Sprouts
Measurements are approximate. The best thing about fried rice is it doesn’t matter if the proportions are a little off; more rice, more veggies, more meat, it’s all good. Use up what you have, and tweak the amounts to your liking. Don’t skimp on the eggs though, they’re key!
peanut or sesame oil, for frying
1-2 cloves garlic, minced
1T fresh ginger, minced
2c leftover cooked pork, chopped into cubes
2c brussels sprouts, thinly sliced lengthwise
1c asparagus, chopped
1c shiitake mushrooms (soaked if dry), chopped
5c cooked rice
5 eggs, lightly beaten
1/2c cilantro, chopped
sriracha or other hot sauce
1. Heat 2-3 tablespoons of oil in a wok or other large pan. Once hot, add the aromatics and stir for 30 seconds or so. Add pork and cook, stirring occasionally, until browned.
2. Add brussels sprouts and asparagus. Stir-fry until vegetables are cooked through and starting to brown.
3. Add mushrooms and continue to cook for 1-2 minutes.
4. Add rice and stir to combine.
5. Once rice is incorporated, move the entire mixture to side and pour in the eggs. Allow to cook, undisturbed, for a few minutes. Once they begin to set, use a spoon or spatula to scramble them on the side. When they are almost cooked through, stir them into the rice mixture. Mix well.
6. Remove from heat and stir in cilantro. Season to taste with soy sauce and sesame oil.