We finally made it to the giant Asian supermarket yesterday, so be forewarned this week’s dishes will more than likely revolve around the things we found there—some common (lemongrass, dried mushrooms), some not so common (sawtooth herb, white fungus).
This recipe, adapted from “Hot Sour Salty Sweet” by Jeffrey Alford and Naomi Duguid, makes use of some leftover rice from last night’s beef stir-fry. This dish is served all over the place in Thailand, although all the times I saw it there, it had egg in it. If you want to go all the way and add one, be my guest. Our chickens are still refusing to lay.
This makes a light dinner for two, served family-style. (Or a large serving for one, if you’re super-hungry and not budget- or calorie-conscious.) If you’re scaling this recipe up, cook one serving at a time to avoid crowding the pan. Otherwise the rice won’t sear, and that’s where most of the flavor comes from.
6 garlic cloves, finely chopped: 18 cents
2 T oil (canola, peanut, or anything with a high smoke point): 6 cents
2 oz. thinly sliced pork loin ($1.98/lb): 24 cents
2 cups cold leftover rice (preferably Thai jasmine, but that’s not what I used last night, so it’s not what I’m using now) (also, technically free since you’d be throwing it away anyhow, but just in case): 8 cents
2 small green onions, sliced (59 cents/bunch): 14 cents
2 tsp fish sauce: 2 cents
1/4 cup cilantro leaves: 12 cents
6 thin cucumber slices (1/4 of a 79-cent cucumber): 20 cents
2 lime wedges to squeeze over the top: 8 cents
1/4 cup fish sauce to serve on the side as a condiment (if you like it spicy, add some sliced chiles to this): 24 cents
TOTAL: $1.34/2 = 67 cents
This dish goes very fast and needs your full attention for the few minutes it cooks, so be sure to have everything sliced, chopped and ready to go before you start. (The jar in the picture is the fish sauce, to which I added a sliced chile we had sitting, abandoned, in the fridge.)
Heat a cast-iron skillet (10-12 inches is fine) over high heat, add oil and continue to heat until smoking. Add the garlic, stir for a few seconds, then add the pork slices, making sure both sides have changed color; less than 30 seconds.
Add the rice, stirring well, pressing down with a spatula to ensure a crusty sear, then flipping over and repeating until most of the grains are visibly fried, about a minute and a half. Add the green onions, stirring constantly until bright green, a few seconds, then add the 2 tsp fish sauce and stir well. Turn out onto a dinner plate garnished with cucumbers. Sprinkle with cilantro and lime wedges and serve.
To eat, squeeze the lime wedges over the top and spoon fish sauce over to taste. (The fish sauce is very salty, so use it sparingly and be sure to taste the rice first to make sure it even needs it.)