Friday, January 17, 2014

Lunch Week 3: Pork and Pickled Mustard Greens with Rice Cakes and Chinese Broccoli

So every Sunday, I head over to the kitchen to whip up a big batch of food for lunch the next week. Yes, I brown bag. And I almost always do it every week unless I become too busy to even buy cold cuts from the deli. I do it for several reasons being health, finance, and laziness. Now, you may think that spending hours on a day off to prep and cook five meals at once is hardly lazy. But let me remind you, I hate it when the time comes to decide what to eat for lunch every day. I work in Midtown so the choices are endless. My problem, the more choices, the harder it is for me. So it's much easier for me to have my lunch ready and already decided.

So my lunch for the week: Pork and Pickled Mustard Greens with Rice Cakes and Chinese Broccoli
This is truly a classic Asian dish that is the epitome of comfort food. Basically anything rice based is comfort for me. This time, the rice is in the form of cakes. And you'll be amazed by how easy it is to make this dish. Let's do this!

First the pork. I used sliced pork chops. A leaner cut is perfectly good here. No need for fatty pieces. It'll actually make the dish a bit too heavy.
And now the pickled mustard greens. They come vaccum packed and ready to eat. Just open and drain the package of liquid. It can be found in almost any Asian grocer.
Chop up the mustard greens into a small dice. Use the leaves, core, and all.
Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add salt and oil. Then add your washed Chinese broccoli. I like to use the tips because they tend to be slightly sweeter and more tender. Blanch them quickly and bring back to a boil. Remove from pot and drain. Reserve the boiling water.
With the leftover water, cook your rice cakes. Cook for a few minutes until they've completely softened. I know a lot of recipes tell you to just cook them as a stir fry without boiling first but that only works if you're eating the rice cakes right away. If you're like me and you cook meals ahead of time, this step is important. Otherwise, you'll have very hard rice cakes. Not good. Once softened, remove from heat and strain. Rinse under cold water to remove some of the starch.
While your rice cakes cook, cook your pork. Here, I'm stir frying the pork in hot oil. Salt and pepper. Then right before the pork is cooked through, add dark soy sauce. Mix well. Allow the soy sauce to caramelize a bit. I use dark soy sauce because it's slightly sweeter and goes really well in this dish. After the soy sauce is almost completely absorbed by the pork, add your diced mustard greens. Mix well and continue cooking until the greens are warmed through.
Remove from heat and then add everything together except for the Chinese broccoli. I used the same large pot that I cooked the Chinese Broccoli and rice cakes. Toss until the rice cakes are well coated with the juices from the pork and mustard greens.
And that's it. Just 4 main ingredients (Chinese broccoli, pork, pickled mustard greens, and rice cakes) along with salt, pepper, oil, and dark soy sauce. This dish is best eaten right away. However, if you're packing it for lunch as I did, it's best to reheat it to a very hot temperature. I zapped it for 2 minutes on the highest setting. This ensures that the rice cakes soften enough to be delectable again. They harden when cold.

I'll try to provide a recipe next time.

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