Serious Eats: Recipes

Eat for Eight Bucks: Pork Fried Rice

[Photograph: Robin Bellinger]

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1 1/2 pounds pork butt: $4.27
Scallions: $0.69
Bok choy: $1.64
2 eggs: $0.50

Pantry items: Rice, onion, ground ginger, sugar, soy sauce, garlic, salt, pepper, oil, red pepper flakes.

Total cost (for 4 portions): $7.10

When you only have dinner delivered once or twice a year, you have to develop your own versions of fondly remembered takeout staples. Chinese food meant pork fried rice for me when I was growing up, and it took me many years to work out a home version that lived up to my memories of lip-smacking, meaty, salty abundance.

You must start with cold rice and a very hot pot. You must use soy sauce. You must resign yourself to the fact that your pot will probably require some scrubbing. But in all other aspects, fried rice is very flexible. I sometimes make it with brown rice, and if I don't have scallions in the refrigerator, onions will do. When I overcooked the bok choy I meant to serve by itself on the side, I simply chopped it and stirred it into the cooking rice, where its limpness would go unnoticed.

Although I usually make meatless fried rice, this pork, adapted from How to Cook Everything (as was the rice), made a very tasty addition. A pound and a half may sound like a lot of meat for four people, but it cooks down to half that weight in the oven, becoming dense, chewy, and crisp all at once. In fact, it reminds me of the Chinese takeout ribs I used to love.

Pork Fried Rice

About the author: Robin Bellinger is a freelance editor and shameless cookie addict. She lives in San Francisco and blogs about what she feeds her husband and her daughter at home*economics.

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