At 4:30 this morning, I was in the Detroit airport. That about says it all, doesn’t it?

Still — setting the red eye angst aside for a moment — there’s no feeling like stumbling home from a long flight and into your pajamas. And sleeping the sleep of the dead. And finally waking up in your own bed again.

The skies have cleared over Brooklyn and there are bright green leaves rustling outside my window that weren’t there a week ago. It’s time to make a cup of tea and a list and get reacquainted with my kitchen. With J left to his own devices, the pantry tends to get bare around these parts, so the first order of business this afternoon (after a looooooong shower) is definitely going to be provisioning. And after the crazy binge that was my week in Oregon, I’m looking forward to keeping things light and veggie-heavy for a couple of weeks.

I knew this recipe — for fried wild rice with favas and asparagus, topped with a few thin, crunchy slices of beer-marinated pork — was a keeper the first time I made it, while I was playing around with ideas for a wild rice feature I wrote recently for the LA Times. Based loosely on one of my favorite Japanese comfort foods, katsudon, it’s full of contrasting flavors and textures, with a tangy splash of sesame and soy, sweetness from the favas, earthiness from the rice — and of course, the pork’s satisfying crunch. But the recipe is flexible (and forgiving enough) that tweaks and substitutions are boundless. Add mushrooms, bok choy, sprouts, turnips, parnsips, carrots….

I’m going to clean out the fridge and see what happens.

Marinade for pork:
1/4 cup soy sauce
3/4 cup pale beer (lager)
juice of one lemon

1 ½ cups canola oil
4 pork cutlets
2 eggs
½ cup breadcrumbs, preferably panko
½ cup flour
salt and pepper

2 teaspoons olive oil
1.5 tablespoons sesame oil plus more for garnish
3 eggs
4 cups cooked wild rice
1 red onion, chopped
8 oz asparagus, trimmed and chopped into 1 inch pieces
12 oz fava beans, fresh or frozen, blanched and waxy white skins removed
1 tablespoon plus one teaspoon soy sauce
½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
2 scallions, chopped

1. Place cutlets between two sheets of plastic wrap; pound each cutlet to ½ thickness. In a medium bowl, combine soy, beer, and lemon juice. Put cutlets in the bowl, cover it, and place it in the refrigerator to marinate while you prepare the rice.

2. In a small bowl, gently whisk together 3 eggs, and sprinkle with a pinch of salt and pepper. In a large, wide frying pan, heat one teaspoon of olive oil and one tablespoon of sesame oil until hot. Pour in the eggs and after a few seconds, give them a swirl so that they coat nearly the whole pan. Cook for 1 minute, or until the egg sets into a thin pancake. With a thin rubber spatula, lift the edges of the pancake and fold it in half to transfer to a plate. Let cool for a minute, then cut into small pieces.

3. Using the same frying pan, add one teaspoon of olive oil and cook the onions over medium-high heat until they are soft and slightly translucent, about 2 minutes. Add the asparagus, favas, wild rice, and 1.5 tablespoon of sesame oil. Cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the rice has heated through and absorbed much of the sesame oil, and the asparagus has begun to soften. Add the reserved egg strips, one teaspoon of red pepper flakes, and one generous tablespoon of soy sauce. Stir a few times to combine evenly and let cook a minute or two more. Remove from heat, taste, scatter with scallions and season with salt and pepper. If desired, finish with a very light drizzling of sesame oil.

4. Remove cutlets from refrigerator and drain off marinade. Beat 2 eggs in a shallow dish and scoop flour and breadcrumbs onto two separate small dishes. One by one, roll each cutlet in flour. Then dip them in the egg mixture and roll in the breadcrumbs until they are well coated.

5. In a wide, shallow frying pan, heat canola oil over a high flame. Once the oil is hot, place two cutlets in the pan. (The oil is hot enough if the cutlets immediately begin to sizzle.) Fry the cutlets until they are golden brown, turning once (about 1 minute on each side). Transfer to a plate lined with a paper towel, and repeat with the remaining cutlets.

6. To serve, spoon 1 ½ cups of fried rice into four individual bowls. Working on the diagonal, slice each cutlet into 1 inch strips, and place them on top of the bowls of rice. Season with salt, pepper, and soy sauce to taste.


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