BROWN RICE AND BOK CHOY
WITH SPICY PORK SAUCE
Pork sauce: really, could something called that be anything but a winner? Happily, this is one dish that entirely lives up to its name. This afternoon, taking a version in Naomi Daguid and Jeffrey Alford’s book “Seductions of Rice” as inspiration for a little improv, I jazzed up what was going to be an entirely-too-virtuous meal of bok choy and brown rice with a heaping scoop of spicy, sweet, quasi-Asian sloppy joe. Lunch ladies: take note!
2 cups brown rice
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 teaspoons sesame oil
2 large garlic cloves, thinly sliced
3 shallots, thinly sliced
8 shitake mushrooms, de-stemmed and sliced
3/4 lb. ground pork
1 cup water + more as needed
3 tablespoons dried red chile, ground
1/2 teaspoon Colman’s mustard powder
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1 star anise
2 tablespoons soy sauce, plus more to taste
6 baby bok choy, rinsed and trimmed
2 scallions, cleaned and sliced thinly
1 thai chile, chopped finely
1. Prepare brown rice in manner of your choice. (Are you a stovetop or a rice cooker person? I’m not going to take sides.)
2. In a wide skillet or wok, heat olive oil and 1 teaspoon of sesame oil over a medium-high flame, until pan is quite hot. Add garlic and shallots and saute — stirring frequently so the garlic doesn’t burn — until both are softened and the shallots have turned translucent, about 5 minutes. Add mushrooms and cook for 2 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add pork. Using a rubber spatula or wooden spoon, stir and separate the grains of pork so that it does not clump. Reduce heat to medium, add 1 cup water and simmer for 5-7 minutes, allowing the pork to cook and the liquid to reduce. Add chile, mustard, sugar, ginger, cinnamon, star anise, and soy sauce and stir. Continue simmering, adding water little by little to loosen the pork mixture as it cooks. Lower flame to keep warm.
3. Heat a large frying pan or grill pan over a high flame. Drizzle with a scant teaspoon of sesame oil. Fill with rinsed, trimmed bok choy stems and cook for 2 minutes, until the bok choy is wilted and tender but still bright green.
4. To serve, scoop one cup of brown rice into a bowl. Cover rice with wilted bok choy and top with a generous ladle of pork sauce. Strew with chopped scallion and chile and additional soy sauce or sriracha to taste.