A couple of weeks ago, a friend asked me for the recipe for Cai Fan (cai means 菜 vegetables, fan 饭 means rice), a fantastic dish prepared with salted pork and green vegetables like bok choy. I grew up eating so much of it, and it carries so many memories.
When I was in school, my parents were busy with work and their careers. When on the days they were too exhausted to cook a few dishes for dinner, they would throw bok choy, salted pork, and rice in the rice cooker. Twenty minutes later, we will have a delicious and filling cai fan. You can also use a regular pot to make this dish. See the instructions below.
The main ingredients of this recipe are white rice, salted pork, green vegetables, and ginger. You can fancy it up with some Chinese sausage.
Salted Pork - Left
Chinese Sausages - Right
Yu Choy (Choy Sum) - Left
Bok Choy - Right
CAI FAN RECIPE
3 SERVINGS丨 TOTAL 40 MIN
2 cups of jasmine rice or short-grain rice
10 oz bok choy
3 oz salted pork. Prepare 6 oz if using pork only, no sausages
3 oz Chinese sausages
1 tbsp of thinly sliced ginger
Shaoxing cooking wine, good to have
Sesame oil, optional
Chili sauce or chili oil, optional
1. Rinse rice and discard starchy water. Add enough water to cover the rice and let it soak for 30 minutes.
2. Wash salted pork and sausages and pad dry. Cut sausages into thin slices and pork into cubes, 1/3 inch.
3. Add 1 tbsp of vegetable oil in the rice cooker or a medium pot. Saute ginger, sausages, and pork for 3 minutes until cooked. Add one splash of Shaoxing cooking wine to add more flavor and remove the gaminess of the meat.
4. Add soaked rice to the rice cooker or pot. Mix it with the meat. The water level should be slightly lower than when you cook plain white rice since there is moisture in green vegetables. 1/4 inch above rice is recommended. Cover and steam. If using a regular pot, cook on medium-high heat until the water bubbles. Then go to step 6.
5. Meanwhile, cut bok choy into 2 to 3-cm pieces. Add 1/2 tsp salt and toss bok choy. Then let it sweat for a few minutes.
6. When the rice water bubbles, add bok choy and mix well. Cover and let it cook for another few minutes until the cooking process finishes and the rice cooker switch to warm. If you use a regular pot, when the rice water starts to bubble, turn the heat to low and add the bok choy, then steam for another 12 minutes.
7. When the time is up, turn off the rice cooker or stove. Keep the rice covered and let it sit for 5 more minutes. Then serve with chili sauce or chili oil. This dish is also traditionally served with lard (pork fat). Substitute lard with sesame oil.
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