People are so worried about what they eat between Christmas and the New Year, but they really should be worried about what they eat between the New Year and Christmas.
‘Tis the season… Does joy, peace, or chaos reign in your home this time of year? Far too often, the frantic pace, stress, and crowds define December rather than the solace of meaningful traditions, family, and faith. Year’s end is often a time of reflection, and regrouping in preparation for the upcoming year. Now is the time to think about creating your well-stocked pantry, and starting the New Year with a sense of purpose… bringing healthy and delicious food like this Pork and Shrimp Fried Rice to your table.
In a previous post, I introduced the topic of the well-stocked pantry. I plan to return to this topic periodically, as I feel strongly that a well-stocked pantry is key to improving the quality and variety of your meals. It may also provide inspiration to prepare a home-cooked meal after a long day at the office rather than stopping at the local drive-through or calling for take-out.
So, I’ve discussed taking an inventory of what types of food appeal to you, and planning your pantry around those flavors and items. For example, does your family love Asian food? After work on a busy weeknight, you may be tempted to call for Chinese take-out or even delivery. The food may be edible or even enjoyable, but it is an expensive alternative, and may or may not be healthy.
A paradigm shift is in order 🙂 Stock your pantry with quality Asian ingredients that allow you to throw together a tasty and nutritious meal in short order… probably in less time than you can get it ordered and delivered, and for less money. Where does one start in selecting Asian ingredients? The photo below shows ingredients I pulled from my own pantry, all used regularly in Asian cooking.
I will start with the basics, lest the list become overwhelming. An Asian market will, of course, be the best source for Asian ingredients. However, many of these items can be found at supermarkets and specialty markets like Trader Joe’s. Sesame oil, good soy sauce, oyster sauce, hoisin sauce, sriracha sauce, chili garlic paste, rice wine vinegar, rice wine, fresh ginger, and whole or minced garlic will provide many options for throwing together a tasty Asian-inspired meal. I would then add fish sauce, Thai curry paste, miso, tofu, kombu (dried kelp) and katsuobushi (bonito flakes) for dashi stock, lemongrass, kaffir lime leaves, etc. I am never without jasmine or basmati rice, and dried udon and soba noodles. I try to keep Thai rice noodles (sticks and vermicelli) as well. As I mentioned in a previous post, fresh noodles are preferable but not always available.
As you begin to gather items for your “well-stocked pantry,” you should find that you have more options for quick, weeknight Asian-inspired meals. An added benefit to this approach is that if you find you want to venture further with Asian cooking, you will already have many of the ingredients. While a stir-fry or fried rice are perfect for a weeknight, Indonesian Rendang Daging (Spicy Beef in Dry Curry) is best saved for a relaxed weekend day… Download a copy of my My Pantry Checklist, and customize the excel file to suit your family’s preferences. It’s free!
One of my favorite ways to use my Asian pantry – and leftover rice – is in fried rice. Fried rice can be anything from a simple, flavorful side dish to a more ambitious main course with one or more proteins. The versatility of this humble dish makes it a perfect choice for utilizing your pantry. This recipe is for a Pork and Shrimp Fried Rice, but feel free to vary the proteins and vegetables to suit your taste and the contents of your refrigerator and pantry 🙂
When I stir-fry anything, I cook in stages. With fried rice, I typically stir-fry the proteins, remove them from the wok, stir-fry the vegetables, remove them from the wok, and then stir-fry the rice with the sauces. I combine the proteins and vegetables for 1-2 minutes to combine all the flavors. Lastly, I garnish with the egg and chopped scallions. I hope you will give this tasty weeknight dish a try! As the ancient proverb suggests, “All the proofe of a pudding is in the eating.” The Oxford Dictionary of Quotations.
Use your well-stocked pantry to create a delicious weeknight Asian-inspired dish...
15 minPrep Time
20 minCook Time
35 minTotal Time
- 1-2 tbsp. vegetable or canola oil
- 1 tsp. sesame oil
- 3 cloves garlic, finely minced
- 1 tbsp. fresh ginger, finely minced or grated
- 8 ounces medium or large shrimp, shelled and deveined
- 8 ounces boneless smoked pork chop (about 2)*
- 1 red, yellow, or orange bell pepper, julienned
- 8 ounces sugar snap peas, stem ends removed if necessary
- 12 ounces bean sprouts
- 4 eggs, whisked enthusiastically
- 4 tbsp. oyster sauce
- 2 tbsp. soy sauce
- 2 tsp. sriracha sauce (to taste - it's hot sauce)
- 3 scallions, chopped
- 4 cups cooked rice
In a large wok, heat oils on high heat. Add garlic, ginger, and pork. Stir-fry until pork is nearly cooked - about 2 minutes. Add shrimp, and stir-fry until shrimp is nearly opaque. Be careful to not overcook. Remove to a large bowl.
Add bell pepper and sugar snap peas to the hot wok. Stir-fry 1-2 minutes, until the bell pepper barely begins to soften. Add the bean sprouts, and stir-fry an additional minute. Remove to the bowl with the shrimp and pork.
In a separate non-stick saute pan coated with cooking spray, cook the eggs as for an omelet. Flip when the eggs are set, and turn off the heat.
At this point, you may wish to add a bit more oil to the wok. When it is hot, add the cooked rice to the wok. Give it a good stir, and then add the soy sauce, sriracha sauce, and oyster sauce. Stir over high to combine the sauces with the rice. Continue stir-frying the mixture until the ingredients are well-combined.
Return the shrimp, pork, and vegetables to the wok. Stir-fry to combine all ingredients. Turn off the heat on the wok.
Slide the omelet on to a cutting board. Cut in half and then julienne.
Garnish the fried rice with scallions and julienned egg. Serve.
* This recipe calls for smoked pork chops and shrimp. Use your favorites or what you have on hand. Make it vegetarian with tofu in place of the pork and shrimp.
Use your favorite veggies in place of the sugar snap peas, peppers, and bean sprouts if desired.
I keep fresh ginger in a zip bag in my freezer, and grate it using a micro plane. Minced ginger and minced garlic are available at many markets, and are great time savers.
Macro nutrients depend on your serving size. I do weigh and measure ingredients, and practice portion control.