Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Asian Sauté and Food Bank Fried Rice -- Part of the Hunger Challenge

As part of my participation in the Hunger Challenge I tried to add variety and convenience into a budget that only allowed for $1 a day per meal per person.

I’m told some of the basics San Francisco Food Bank customers often receive are onions, carrots, rice and cabbage. I’ve put them to work in this recipe, however, even if you had to pay for those ingredients, the recipes still cost out at a $1 per serving or less. You can see my shopping list, my other recipes, how this fits into my week’s menu, how to donate to your local food bank, and more by clicking here.

First up, make the sauté and rice. Leftover rice and sauté will be used with some other basic ingredients to make the Food Bank Fried Rice.

This is family dinner fare with an Asian flare; the techniques and seasonings are simplified to keep costs and prep time down a bit. If you have some Chinese or Japanese chili or sesame oil handy, you could mix in a teaspoon or to taste a minute or so before the sauté finishes cooking. Another nice addition would be a sprinkle of freshly minced cilantro or green onions on top the finished sauté and fried rice dishes. A good add-on to the stir fried veggies would be a chopped red bell pepper. I couldn’t “afford” any of these additions on my Hunger Challenge “budget” however. Even without the extras my 17-year-old son couldn’t believe these dishes were part of the Hunger Challenge because, according to him, they looked and tasted like something I would “normally” serve.

Some other suggestions: You could substitute a few packs of the soy sauce that comes with takeout Chinese food (if you have some) and save buying the soy sauce. For the lowest cost soy sauce, look in Asian grocery stores. These grocery stores often have very reasonably priced produce and meats. If you have access to one it might be a way to save a bit on food costs when you shop.

Asian Sauté

Note: Use whatever green vegetable you have on hand. My menu had a half pound of frozen chopped broccoli left so I would use that. I’ve also made it with snap peas and green beans. Use what is cost effective and tasty for you.

2 tablespoons of vegetable oil
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into 1” cubes,
½ cup chopped onion,
2-4 cloves of garlic, minced
1-2 small hot red jalapeno or Serrano chili peppers (seeded if you prefer milder), chopped
1 ½ to 2 tablespoons peeled, minced ginger (you’ll need a piece of ginger approx. 1” long and 2 inches wide)
2 medium carrots, shredded or chopped into small pieces (larger ones will take too long to cook)
About a third of a pound of green cabbage, shredded or chopped
½ pound green vegetables, fresh or frozen, chopped. If using frozen, do not defrost (see note)
1 package (14 to 16 ounces) firm or extra firm tofu, rinsed, drained and cut into 1” cubes
16 ounces of chicken broth or water
2 tablespoons soy sauce or more to taste

Heat the oil in a large fry or sauté pan or a wok until a bit of onion sizzles when it is dropped in. Working in batches if necessary so as not to overcrowd the pan, brown the chicken pieces. When browned on all sides, remove from the pan and set aside on a plate.

Add in onion and sauté or stir fry until it begins to turn golden brown and soften. Add the garlic, peppers and ginger and fry, stirring often, until garlic begins to color. Add carrots and cook, stirring often for a few minutes until they begin to soften. Add cabbage and cook, stirring, until it begins to soften and wilt. Add the chopped green vegetable, and mix well to combine, stirring often as the mixture cooks.

Add in tofu and the browned chicken with any juices the chicken may have exuded. Cook for a minute or two, stirring often so tofu doesn’t stick but picks up a little color. (Add some of the broth or water if you need to prevent the tofu from sticking.) Add chicken broth and the soy sauce, cook, stirring often, until chicken is cooked through and the liquid has cooked down to make a sauce that just covers the bottom of the pan. Taste and add more soy sauce if needed.

The recipe makes about six cups. Reserve two cups of the sauté mixture for the fried rice recipe. Makes 4 servings, 1 cup each of the sauté. Serve on top of rice. (Note: you’ll need at least four cups of leftover rice for the fried rice recipe, so make plenty. Generally 1 ½ cups of raw rice will make about 4 cups of cooked rice, but check your package for specific quantities.)

Next, make the Food Bank Fried Rice. (One tip -- I made it the same night after dinner. The rice had cooled and the pan was dirty already, anyway. The fried rice reheated just fine in the microwave the next night. Or you can reheat in a large fry pan with a bit of oil or water.)

Food Bank Fried Rice

Note: To prep the leftover rice for this recipe, spread it out on plates or in a baking dish so the grains don’t stick together as much as it cools. Once it has cooled to room temperature you can go ahead and make the fried rice or store the rice in a container or storage bag in the refrigerator. Let the chilled rice come to room temperature before using.

2 tablespoons vegetable oil
¼ cup chopped onions
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 small red jalapeno or serrano chili pepper, minced
2 stalks celery, chopped
3 eggs
2 cups leftover Asian Sauté
4-5 cups, leftover cooled rice
3 tablespoons of soy sauce or more to taste

Heat the oil in a large fry or sauté pan or a wok until a bit of onion sizzles when it is dropped in. Add in onion and sauté or stir fry until it begins to turn golden brown and soften. Add the garlic and peppers and fry, stirring often, until garlic begins to color. Add celery and cook, stirring often for a few minutes until they begin to soften.

Break the eggs into a small bowl or cup and beat well. Drizzle the beaten egg slowly into the vegetable mixture, letting the eggs rest about 20 seconds until they just begin to set, then quickly stirring hard and thoroughly until the eggs resemble strands of cooked scrambled eggs mixed throughout.

Add leftover sauté and cook, stirring often, until chicken is beginning to warm through. Add a few tablespoons of water if need to prevent the mixture from sticking. Stir in the rice, breaking up any clumps and incorporating into chicken and vegetables. Stir in the soy sauce, mix well. Heat until dish is heated through. Makes 4 servings about 1 ½ cups each (using 4 cups of leftover rice).

1 comment:

Sophie said...

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