Whaaaaat? Clementines, in fried rice? There are all sorts of recipes in Asian cooking that use orange/Mandarin/tangerine. Orange chicken? Tangerine Beef (or chicken)? So why not fried rice? Oh, you noticed the bacon, too, did you? Many years ago a Chinese friend served us fried rice with bacon in it. I knew she was a clever woman, but bacon? Seriously, bacon? Who ever heard of such a thing? So I asked her about it. Without missing a beat, her response was, “Why not? I love bacon.” And that was that. I knew I liked her…a free thinker. Or a free-thinking cook! And she was right. It was incredibly delicious.
As for the Clementines, with salt, a little sweet is always nice, for balance. But, because Clementines are so delicate, I toss them in at the very last minute, just before serving. If you wish, remove strips of the zest with a potato peeler, cut them into very, very finely julienne and toss in with the rice. It is delicious, too, with a much more pronounced flavor. This time I just used the fruit, no zest.
And I’ve always heard you simply cannot fry fresh rice. BOGUS!!!! You absolutely can. I’ve done it successfully, but I rarely do use fresh rice, because fried rice is how I use up leftovers…lovely leftovers! I usually make extra rice, just so I can have leftover rice to make fried rice later in the week. I also know the common wisdom is to fry the rice first, so it browns and gets chewy. That chewiness isn’t my thing, so I don’t do that.
One thing I will tell you for certain. Have all your dicing, cutting and chopping (you mis en place) done before you even turn the heat on. This part of the meal will take you longer, than actually cooking the dish. But, if you do not want the veggies over-cooked, do your mis en place ahead. Then, off you go to the wok! I just ever so briefly fry the “harder” veggies (carrots and mushrooms), then I add the rice and toss. I toss and stir-fry the mixture, leaving the mixture to “stick” a bit…about 30 seconds each time, for about 2-3 minutes. Add the ginger and garlic; toss and stir-fry for another 30 seconds. Those dark bits aren’t bacon; I used a purple carrot. Toss in the broccoli, peppers, peas and cabbage; and keep stir-frying, about another minute. Pour the seasoning mixture over; toss and continue to stir-fry for about 1-2 minutes. The steam produced from the liquid finishes cooking the veggies, but they still retain a bit of their crunch. Turn off the heat or remove the pan from the heat source. Add the scallions and Clementines; toss for about 20 seconds. Add the bacon bits, toss to combine and then serve! When I add cilantro or Thai basil, I add it with the bacon. I also like to toss a handful of dry-roasted peanuts in, too. And I absolutely love, love, love hoisin sauce, so I always put a dollop on top of my portion of fried rice. It’s my thing and I must say, I’ve sort of converted The Latin Lover to this way of eating.
That’s it. Dinner can be on the table in under 20 minutes, start to finish. But, here’s the added bonus. You can and should serve it just like this, but this mixture is the perfect foil for leftover. Add that little bit of leftover chicken breast, or that 1/4 cup of leftover corn and the leftover shrimp from the shrimp cocktail (yeah, right…sure you have leftover shrimp, but you never know), and you can even scramble some eggs to toss in, if that works for you. I am absolutely certain, this dish was created by clever, thrifty Chinese home cooks to get rid of their leftovers. I’m not going to even both researching this. I just makes sense. And if that’s not the reason, it should be. So, there!
Bacon-Fried Rice with Clementine Bits
- 2 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce (or gluten-free tamari)
- 1 1/2 teaspoons rice wine vinegar
- 1 1/2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
- 5 slices bacon, cut into 1/2-inch batons
- 2 tablespoons reserved bacon fat or vegetable oil
- 1 medium carrot, peeled and diced
- 4 mushroom, quartered
- 1/2 cup very small broccoli florets (or sliced stems)
- 1/2 bell pepper strips
- 4 medium cloves garlic, thinly sliced
- 2 tablespoons very finely julienned fresh ginger root
- 3 cups cooked white rice (see NOTE)
- 3 scallions, thinly sliced (include some of the green part)
- 1/2 cup shredded cabbage (I use Trader Joe’s Cruciferous Crunch™)
- 1/3 cup frozen peas
- 1 Clementine or Mandarin orange, peeled and each section halved
- Chopped fresh cilantro or Thai basil, to taste (optional)
- Hoisin sauce, if desired
In a small bowl, combine the soy sauce, rice vinegar and sesame oil; set aside.
Heat a large wok over high heat until hot, but not smoking. Toss in the bacon; stir it around, until it renders its fat and is crisp. Use a slotted spoon to remove; drain on paper toweling. Pour off all but 2 tablespoons of the fat; reserve extra in case you need more.
Increase the heat; add the carrots and mushrooms and stir-fry for about 30 seconds. Add the rice (you may need to add a bit of additional bacon fat or oil), and toss it with the vegetables. Stir-fry, but let the rice briefly “stick” to the wok, so it will brown a bit. Keep stir-frying the rice until it becomes fragrant, about 2 minutes. Add the ginger and garlic; toss and stir-fry for another 30 seconds. Add the broccoli, peppers, peas and cabbage; and keep stir-frying, about another minute. Add the soy sauce mixture, toss and continue to stir-fry for about 1-2 minutes. Remove from the heat, add the scallions, Clementines, and cilantro, if using; toss. Add the reserved bacon pieces. Toss to combine everything. Serve immediately. Serve with hoisin sauce, if desired.
NOTE: You may use either freshly cooked or day-old chilled rice. If using day-old rice, it’s a bit easier to break the rice up with your hands before proceeding, as it tends to clump. A handful of dry-roasted peanuts tossed in just seconds before serving is a nice touch.
Bacon-Fried Rice with Clementine Bits Recipe©Marcia Lahens 2018. All rights reserved.
I did sprinkle a few hot pepper flakes over my portion. I like when my fried rice bites me back! We poured a nice Vinho Verde, which is particularly good with any sort of spicy or Asian food.