Everyday Gourmet (4/23/09)

Wok your talk

April 23, 2009

By Kim Dannies

As a nation, we talk skinny but we eat fat. Who among us has not indulged the paradox of serving up greasy, tasteless Chinese take-out and calling it a family treat? As the spring break draws to a close, why not gather the gang, dust off the wok and whip up a savory specialty everyone can brag about: Healthy Ginger Fried Rice. The rice is loaded with fiber and fresh veggies, and the protein works as a condiment rather than the main feature. Any combination of pork, shrimp, chicken, tofu and scrambled eggs works just fine. While not strictly Asian, the asparagus gives the rice a nice springtime perk. I like to use brown rice, but basmati or jasmine works well, too (and then you can call it “Princess Jasmine Fried Rice”).

Healthy Ginger Fried Rice

Rice: Prep ahead. Measure 5 cups of brown rice and cook in a rice cooker, or steam rice in a closely watched pot. Place cooked rice into a large prep bowl. (Let the kids stir it with a chopstick.)

Veggie prep: Chop 2 large onions; dice 3 cups baby carrots; slice 6 stalks of celery; seed and dice 3 large bell peppers (red, orange and yellow); slice a large bunch of asparagus into bite-sized pieces.

Reserve veggies (set aside for later): 2 cans water chestnuts, drained and chopped; 1 12-ounce bag of fresh bean sprouts; 2 cups frozen peas, thawed.

Final topping: Thinly slice 6 clean scallions; slice 1 head of bok choy width-wise into thin ribbon slices.

Protein prep: Dice bite-sized chunks of roasted pork, chicken or shrimp to make 3 cups. Scramble 3 eggs, chop up mass, cool.

Dressing prep (do this while veggies sizzle in the wok): In a food processor mince 6 large garlic cloves along with a 3-inch hunk of peeled fresh ginger; add 1 cup soy sauce, 1/2 cup orange juice, 2 tablespoons sesame oil and 2 tablespoons of chili garlic sauce; process 1 minute.

In a hot wok or large sauté pan, heat 2 tablespoons of peanut oil. Add onion and carrot and sauté for 10 minutes; season lightly with kosher salt, layering flavors with each veggie. Add celery, and cook 5 minutes more. Add peppers, cooking 5 minutes more. Add asparagus and protein for a final 2 minutes. Deglaze the wok with 6 ounces of sherry.

Add the cooked veggies to the rice. Add the reserved veggies. Pour dressing over rice, gently folding ingredients together. Place on serving platter and top with scallions and ribbons of bok choy. Makes 12-14 servings; the rice reheats beautifully, too.

Kim Dannies is a graduate of La Varenne Cooking School in France. She lives in Williston with her husband, Jeff; they have three college-aged daughters who come and go. For archived Everyday Gourmet columns go to kimdannies.com.