L’shana tova, everybody!
It’s Rosh Hashana, the Jewish New Year. If there was ever a time for reflection and renewal, this is it. Today is the day we eat apple slices dipped in honey, so that the rest of the year may be sweet. I love this day–it’s quiet and suffused with warmth, and even for a severely lapsed Jew like me, it offers an opportunity to burrow down inside and find the parts of me that are ready for change.
I’m not a big believer in New Year’s resolutions, but I do like the idea of a surface wiped clean, ready for another year of markings. So that’s what today is for me–an opportunity to wash away last year’s labels and lines, and write myself some new ones. This year feels different, because I’m finally feeling out what my body needs and wants, and I feel like I can shape a year around that. I can eat more of the foods I love that nourish rather than drain me; I can get my rusty limbs moving, a little more every day.
So here’s a recipe for the day. Not traditional by any means–my mother points out that writing about pork fried anything on a Jewish High Holy Day is the height of irony–but still somehow fitting. I’ve been meaning for years to eat more quinoa–I love the pebbly nuttiness of it, and it always makes me feel whole and warm and satisfied. So this year, I’ll be eating more quinoa, in simple ways that make me feel at home. And one of my favorite homey preparations–fried rice–turns out to be a perfect vehicle for quinoa too.
This is fried grains my way: lighter and less greasy than familiar fried rice, with ham and vegetables and a quartet of fridge-standby sauces to lend depth and a little stickiness. As with so many things, this is tasty enough on its own, but downright transcendent with a runny-poached egg on top. If today’s intentions hold, I’ll be eating a lot more of this stuff in the future. I’m excited.
Pork Fried Quinoa (serves 4)
Adapted from Food Wishes
1 cup quinoa
1 tbsp neutral oil (peanut, canola, or vegetable)
4 oz smoked sliced ham, finely diced
1/2 medium red bell pepper, finely diced
3 oz shiitake mushrooms, stemmed and diced
2 scallions, thinly sliced, white and green parts separated
2-3 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 tsp minced or grated fresh ginger
2 tbsp soy sauce, or to taste
1 tbsp unseasoned rice vinegar, or to taste
1 tsp hoisin sauce, or to taste (optional)
Sriracha or other hot sauce to taste
1-2 eggs per person
Cook the quinoa according to the package directions. Once it’s done, turn off the heat and let it sit, covered, for 10 minutes. Fluff the quinoa with a fork, and set aside.
In a large heavy skillet or frying pan, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add ham, pepper, mushrooms, and the white parts of the scallions, and stir-fry for about 5 minutes, or until the vegetables are starting to get tender and the ham is crisped around the edges. Add the garlic and ginger and fry for an additional 30 seconds. Add quinoa and continue stir-frying for 2-3 minutes, or until the quinoa has absorbed the juices from the vegetables. Stir in rice vinegar, soy sauce, hoisin sauce (if using), and hot sauce. Taste and adjust the seasoning as needed.
Reduce the heat to low to keep the quinoa warm while you poach the eggs. My favorite way to do this is to bring a small saucepan of water to a bare simmer, salt it generously, then crack the eggs gently into the pot. Let the eggs poach 3 minutes for runny yolks, or 4 minutes for thick gooey yolks. Remove the eggs from the water with a slotted spoon and place them on a paper towel to drain briefly.
Remove the quinoa from the heat and top each portion with poached egg(s). Garnish with the reserved minced green scallion parts, and serve immediately.