During the eighties Chinese food cooking was all the rage. The hot chefs who were inspiring everyone were Martin Yan, Ken Hom, Barbara Tropp, and Wolfgang Puck (fusion). Everyone was buying a wok and learning to cook spring rolls, won tons, Chinese rice and hot and sour soup. I was among them. And I bought books too: Chinese Snacks: Wei-chuan’s Cook Book, Ken Hom’s Chinese Cookery, and The Modern Art of Chinese Cooking by Barbara Tropp, and there were more, but somewhere along the way some were lost, or misplaced.
I was just starting to cook and learning something different and exotic (time warp), made cooking just that much more fun. We bought chop sticks too, and everyone in the family struggled as they learned to control the stick between their fingers. Some learned faster than others, some have yet to learn, myself included. I’m an expert at holding the bowl under the chin and scooping food into my mouth, but the fine art of picking up small pieces of food with long thin sticks has eluded me.
Last year Mary Bergfield’s blog group covered Gourmet Online’s 50 Women Game Changers; Barbara Tropp was on the list and it was fun revisiting her food. I made a modified version of her Won Ton Hamburger and it was really tasty. This week I thought it would be entertaining to revisit her book again. In The Modern Art of Chinese Cooking, she presents a recipe for the classic and iconic Chinese fried rice. I like fried rice, but I always found it a little boring and uninteresting. I pumped the recipe and modified it to make it healthier with whole grain rice and added vegetables for more color and flavor, and I skipped the frying which is unnecessary with whole grain rice because it has more fat than white rice.
- 2 carrots (about ¾ cup when chopped)
- 2 teaspoons olive oil
- 2 eggs
- 3-1/2 to 4 cups whole grain rice, cooked
- 1/4 pound, spinach, cooked, squeezed and chopped
- 6 ounces asparagus
- 3/4 cup frozen peas, thawed
- 2 teaspoons sesame oil
- 1 to 1-1/2 tablespoons rice vinegar
- 6 stalks green onions, chopped to 1/4-inch
- 1-1/2 tablespoons Tamari soy
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 spicy sausage, cubed to 1/3-inch (you may also us tofu sausage, or marinated tofu)
- Chop the carrots into 1/3-inch cubes and then blanch in boiling lightly salted water for 2-1/2 to 3 minutes. Test for doneness. They should be tender but not mushy. Rinse with cold water and drain.
- If the peas are frozen, cook them just enough to thaw them, and then rinse them and let them drain.
- Break the eggs into a small bowl and lightly whisk with a fork..] Heat the olive oil in a 8 to 10-inch frying pan. When it is hot, add the egg and swirl it around in the pan so the egg completely cover the bottom of the pan. The idea is to cook one side and then flip the eggs to finish cooking the other side. It should look like a flat disk when it is done. Allow it to cool, and then shred it into small pieces with a chef knife.
- Break off the ends of the asparagus stalk and discard them. Steam the stalks until they are tender but still slightly crispy. While they are cooking get a pan with 3 cups water and 2 cups of ice. When they are cooked to the correct point plunge them into the ice water to stop the cooking process. Drain them and then chop them into 1/3-inch pieces.
- Place the rice in a bowl with the eggs, asparagus, green onions, peas, carrots, spinach, sausage, sesame oil, rice vinegar, Tamari soy and salt. Stir well and check the seasonings. This dish can be eaten hot, or cold.
The final dish will look darker. I added the Tamari soy after I took the picture.