Monday, January 23, 2012

Chinese New Year

Photo: Becky Luigart-Stayner and Jan Gautro,
I have long been interested in genealogy--although my mother's family tree has been difficult to trace because her ancestors came from an area which was once part of the USSR, my dad's family originated in the British Isles. We've been able to trace back for centuries. Likewise for my husband. husband's surname, although British, is also a common Chinese surname. And we love Asian food. So it seems appropriate to think about preparing a Chinese dish today.
Fried rice is ever so easy, but also ever so easy to mess up. Let's take it step-by-step:

Carb Diva Chinese Fried Rice
4 cups cooked rice (see note below)
2 tablespoons vegetable oil, divided
1 (14-oz) pkg. firm tofu, drained and cut into 1/2-inch cubes (see note below)
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup sliced green onions
1/2 cup frozen peas, thawed
1/2 cup bias-cut carrots, thinly sliced
2 teaspoons bottled minced garlic
1 teaspoon bottled minced fresh ginger
2 tablespoons sake (rice wine)
3 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
1 tablespoon hoisin sauce
1/2 teaspoon dark sesame oil
Thinly sliced green onions (optional)


Prepare rice (see below) and set aside.

Heat 1 tablespoon vegetable oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add tofu (see note below for preparation); cook 4 minutes or until lightly browned, stirring occasionally. Remove from pan.

Add eggs to pan; cook 1 minute or until done, breaking egg into small pieces. Remove from pan. Add remaining 1 tablespoon vegetable oil to pan. Add 1 cup onions, peas, and carrots, garlic, and ginger; sauté 2 minutes.

While vegetable mixture cooks, combine sake, soy sauce, hoisin sauce, and sesame oil. Add cooked rice to pan; cook 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Add tofu, egg, and soy sauce mixture; cook 30 seconds, stirring constantly. Garnish with sliced green onions, if desired.

How to Cook Rice (crock-pot method)
2 cups long grain converted rice or jasmine rice
2 1/2  cups water
1 tsp. butter (optional)

Spray the inside of the crockpot  generously with cooking spray. Add rice, water, and butter. Stir and cover.Cook on low 1-1/2 to 2 hours. Lift lid. Check to see if all the liquid is absorbed and taste to see if the rice is done. If not, add a little more water and cook 1/2 hour longer.

How to Prepare Tofu
Remove tofu from packaging. Slice horizontally to form two squares. Place tofu on double thickness of paper towels. Place another double thickness of paper towels on top and then weigh down the entire thing with a heavy weight--a cast iron skillet for example. Let "squeeze" for at least 30 minutes, draining off the excess liquid several times.


This recipe is very adaptable. You can add sauted chicken, shrimp, or leftover cooked pork or beef if you wish. You can omit the tofu if you don't have it on hand, or don't care for it. And as far as the vegetables go--use whatever you like. I love broccoli and Chinese cabbage in my stir fries. You can even toss in zucchini, tender baby green beans, or red bell pepper strips.

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