Tag Archives: White rice

My favorite Asian take-out comes from Trader Joe’s

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I generally try to avoid frozen foods, but when I’m burned out in the kitchen, the first place I turn to is Trader Joe’s.

I know they have an amazing selection in the freezer, but I’m really only interested in two things: the orange chicken and the teriyaki chicken. Both are only $5 per bag.

First, I’d rather someone else make these two specific items than for me to make them at home. Second, I’d rather buy at least the orange chicken this way and bake it instead of heading off for take-out and picking up a deep fried, over-sauced version of the exact same dish.

I prefer the orange chicken to the teriyaki because I’m fat and love meats/cheeses lovingly embraced by batter/breading. There are 320 calories per serving (approximately, but not always, 5 servings to a bag) and a serving really isn’t much on the plate. If I have some wiggle room, I’ll go two servings; if not, one and a half. Lay the pieces out on a sheet pan, blast at 400 degrees for 20 minutes, flipping once if you can, and you’ll have little nuggets of chicken that are a good enough to stand-in for the double-fried stuff you find at Asian chicken joints. Add the sauce, a bunch of scallions and it’s a wrap.

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Alternatively, I’ll use the Trader Joe’s BBQ Chicken Teriyaki on days where I need something lighter and less batteriffic. It’s 150 calories per serving and has 3.5 servings in a bag. I add veggies and a little bit of rice to stretch the meal into four solid portions.

For the dish above, I let the frozen strips of chicken sit out for a half hour to soften up. I cut them into bite-size chunks; then I halved 8 oz. of whole baby crimini mushrooms so they’d be a similar size. To finish prep, I tossed two servings of rice in the rice cooker and separated and halved the leaves of four baby bok choi heads.

You liven up the frozen chicken by building flavor, but it’s all very easy: With a little bit of oil in the pan over medium heat, saute 1/2 a shallot and 2 or 3 cloves of garlic, both minced, until soft, about 2 minutes. Add the mushroom and a generous pinch of salt; cook for 3-5 minutes until most of the water has cooked out of the mushrooms and the pan is dry. If you have it, deglaze the pan with a splash of mirin and add the chicken. Cover with a lid and turn the heat to medium-low, allowing the steam to bring the chicken to temperature. When the chicken is ready, mix in the raw bok choi. The heat will wilt the thin pieces. Finish with the teriyaki sauce and dig in.

If you do it this way, this one makes four portions. The orange chicken is best fresh from the oven, but the teriyaki is perfect packed up and ready for the next day’s lunch. Clearly, it doesn’t suffice for going out to actual Chinese/Japanese (Vietnamese/Thai) restaurants, but if I’m not eating out every day, this is a solid way to split the difference.

Yucatecan classico: Cochinita pibil

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I’ve had a continual craving for pibil–the classic southern Mexican pork (cochinita) or chicken (pollo) dish of braised meat wrapped in banana leaf–ever since I was introduced to the chicken variety in a town outside of Chichen Itza, Yucatán, two Novembers ago.

There’s a satisfactory version on the menu at Taco Mesa, and Gustavo Arellano, OC Weekly’s editor, says Conde Cakes in SanTana carries Yucatecan cuisine, but I’ve been cooking a variety of Mexican dishes at home lately and wanted to end the run on a high note. It’s a 27-hour wait from start to finish, and you’ll be left with orange, achiote-stained hands, but making the dish yourself leaves you with a happy belly and a true appreciation for this classic Mexican dish.

Read the full how to over at OC Weekly’s Stick a Fork In It blog.

Stretching your pesos: Fat Dude’s Mexican Fiesta, Part 7—Shrimp fried Mexican rice

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This is the last post of my “Stretching your pesos” series, which I essentially wrote because I made too much chicken for Nadia’s cousins and I had to figure out what to do with it.

On a small scale, the series taught me to use my leftovers to their full extent. And that’s important to do, considering people in this world are starving while Americans waste 33 million tons of food annually, according to NPR.

I only had a few shrimp, some Mexican rice and pickled red onion in the fridge by the end of this experiment, and I wanted to mix it up a bit, so I took inspiration from Orange County’s Dos Chinos food truck which fuses Asian and Mexican cuisines.

Enter: Shrimp fried Mexican rice.

I found the blueprint at Epicurious:

  • 3 tablespoons canola oil
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1 bunch scallions, roughly chopped
  • 1 cup leftover pork, chicken, or beef, diced
  • 1 cup frozen peas and carrots, thawed (plus any leftover vegetables you have on hand)
  • 4 cups cold cooked white or brown rice (In this case Mexican rice, recipe here)
  • 4 tablespoons soy sauce
  • Salt and pepper to taste

The recipe makes four servings, but here’s a couple of ways to make it a little healthier if you aren’t using leftovers like I was: Use 2-3 cups of rice, so each person has less than 1 cup, with 1/2 cup per person being the target–and go brown rice; use low-sodium soy sauce. You can also reduce the oil, but this rice does need to crisp and you’re at less than 1 T per person. Try using 2 T, and add a tablespoon if necessary.

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Follow the link above for the full step by step, but the method is fairly simple and the result far less greasy than any box of takeout I’ve ever brought home.

You start by cooking the egg and the scallions with some of the oil. Then the meat and veggies get tossed in the pan and scrambled around. The rest of the oil goes in to crisp up the rice and you wrap it up by adding a mixture of soy sauce and water to flavor the rice.

Garnish with fresh cilantro and lime, and dig in.

Week 9, Meal 3: Cuban braised pork with peppers and onions over black beans and rice

It was nice to come home yesterday to a kitchen filled with the smell of pork that has been slow cooking in tomatillos all day.

The flavor of Week 9, Meal 3: Cuban braised pork shoulder with peppers and onions over black beans and rice was even better than the smell though.

I’ll say, for an  unorganized, lazy dude like myself, these recipes have been a pain in the ass to put together — I was up at 5:30 a.m. yesterday browning pork! — but once it’s on the fork, it makes all of the hard work worth it. Continue reading Week 9, Meal 3: Cuban braised pork with peppers and onions over black beans and rice

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