On My (Chinese) Kitchen Table: Ground Pork Fried Rice with Green Onions

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Rice has always been a part of my life.  Coming from a Chinese girl like myself, that probably doesn’t sound any alarm bells, but hear me out.  Rice has played a role in some of my funniest memories (according to my uncle, my aunt was enjoying her fried rice so much she flung a few grains into his ear with her rapid fire chopsticks), and in my early stages of socialization in true-blue Chinese culture where my great-grandmother would cook me baby portions of congee as a toddler.  It wasn’t until I finished high school and started university though that I started feeling restless about the consistent rice noshing.  I wanted to experiment, I wanted to try new things.  My dad has never had any qualms about inhaling on an everyday basis, but I knew my mum and I wanted to branch out and eat other kinds of meals.  In short, my mum and I started feeling bored and we could feel ourselves falling into a food rut. 

Mixing things up has pushed us to get more creative and to leave behind the safety net of the traditional Chinese white dinner, all the while reminding us that rice is still very much an integral part of our food culture.  The whole point was to seek a balance and I think we’ve found it: don’t necessarily abandon it, but don’t rely on it too heavily for the sake of tradition and routine.  For this reason, fried rice has functioned as a happy-medium, as a way of breaking up any form of monotony in the kitchen without denying the fact that we are Chinese and hey, we consume a lot of rice!  Even though I don’t consider fried rice in particular to be the defining dish in Chinese and/or Cantonese cuisine (this quick association actually makes me cringe because it’s so awfully misguided and stereotypical), I don’t know anyone who doesn’t love fried rice, or at the very least enjoys one specific kind.  Pineapple and chicken, egg and shrimp, seafood, mixed vegetables – I love them all, especially when I have it at the really nice sit-down Chinese restaurants with the banquet-style set dinner meals and the little dim sum tea cups! 

My mum has always made fried rice every so often as a treat for my brother and I when we were growing up, and my mum’s ground pork fried rice is one of my all-time favourite comfort, home-cooked meals.  Similar to the lemon green onion rice I posted a week and a half ago, it’s a white rice dish comprised of lean ground pork, chopped green onions, lots of minced garlic, sautéed buttom mushrooms on occasion, olive oil, and our special light-hearted touch: red pepper chili flakes!  Normally, I would sprinkle on some Worcestershire sauce (geep-jup, as we call it in Chinese) or sweet chili sauce, but this time around I felt like something cold on top of the hot rice, something with a little bit of tanginess to it: sour cream!  With a plate of pork and green onion fried rice, a dollop of sour cream, and a smattering of chili flakes, I have myself a plate of home-cooked comfort.

Happy First Day of March! To Celebrate: Lemon Thyme Porkchops and Veggies

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Happy first day of March, everyone!  I know for those of us living in snow land, it looks disgusting out.  Snow is melting, it’s kind of rainy, and it’s gray, brown, and black out.  Spring is just around the corner though and there’s so much to look forward to!  I was out and about today with my boyfriend and although it was a bit chilly this morning, it warmed up by the afternoon and it was beautiful out.  Maybe not aesthetically beautiful, but it FELT beautiful.  The sun was out, the air was breezy and fresh, and it made you feel invigorated just walking and being outside.  And given how I love seasonal things and celebratory occasions, March and April are full of them: Mardi Gras, St. Patrick’s Day, the first official day of spring, and Easter.  Seeing pastel colours gets me excited and I’m SO looking forward to spring activities and outdoor farmer’s markets busting out, so I’m crossing my fingers that spring will makes its appearance sooner rather than later.  So, to kick start the month, a dish with vibrant colour: lemon and thyme porkchops with lots of veggies!

So much veggies they all covered up the porkchops except in the first photo, ha.  The porkchops were marinated with lemon juice, black pepper, and fresh thyme and served with lots of chopped red bell peppers, sliced button mushrooms sautéed with white onions, and a heaping handful of freshly chopped flat leaf parsley finished off the dish.  You can either marinate the porkchops overnight or do them first thing in the morning if you’re preparing them for dinner.  My mum tenderizes them real good with her butcher knife before marinating as the meat needs to be loosened up and softened before cooking.  I absolutely love the pairing of bell peppers and mushrooms, especially red ones because they have a bit of sweetness to it that complements the savouriness of the button mushrooms.  And thyme is our new favourite herb!  It smells and tastes amazing and we’ve been buying a lot more of it for things like pork and fish.

Enjoy every ounce of sunshine and breath of fresh air and I’ll see y’all tomorrow!

Rainbow in a Fish Dish

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Mum’s colourful fresh fish fillet dish!  My mum will often do variations on this one, sometimes including shrimp and other times making a dish with just the fish and lots of yummy vegetables like this one!  Flaky and soft pangasius basa fish fillets (a type of catfish) marinated, coated, and cooked with cornstarch, cooking wine, and lots of black pepper and basil flakes.  Served with white button mushrooms, celery, and red and orange bell peppers. 

They’re kept frozen in their packaging and many times we’ll find this fish in various Chinese supermarkets in our neck of the woods here in Markham, specifically in grocery stores such as T&T and Foodie Mart.  Given how they’re fillets, they are boneless and come in packages about the size of your laptop.  The black pepper really gives it a nice kick, the celery gives the dish crunch, the peppers are fresh, sweet, and juicy, and the cornstarch makes the fish very soft, and it contributes to a nice fish sauce while the fish and vegetables are cooking.  It’s like eating a rainbow for dinner!