Thanksgiving is just around the corner, so I decided to make a Shortcut Pho Ga, Vietnamese Chicken Soup. And now, I’m sure you’re wondering “What on this side of heaven does Pho Ga have to do with the Great American Turkey Day?” Ahem. Thanksgiving, that is.
Since I’ve been helping out the folks, I’ve been “forced” to step up and find creative ways to use up extra steak. This time, it’s Steak Lo Mein and it HAS to be my best “secondary” steak dish, ever. Hands down.
Chicken Soup – it’s so familiar to so many cultures – I had to try my hand at Pho Ga. Rich golden stock and rice noodles make the backbone of the soup, but it’s the garnishes that make the meal.
When meat prices aren’t what I think they should be, I start looking for alternative ways to fill up my family and still get some vegetables and protein into them.
Every culture has their go to dishes that have been developed and refined over the years with frugalness in mind – and as much as I love recipes passed down from my Mother and my Grandmother, I love this one, Fried Rice, even more – passed down by the Asian Grandmother.
My Fried Rice was lackluster, mushy and only just edible…what can I say – I come from a mostly German, Scottish and Irish background with a smidge of French and dash of English just to spice things up…
Pat from the Asian Grandmother’s blog saved me! And she’ll save you, too! Pat gives so many tips on how to make Fried Rice successfully in her Five Secrets to Making Fabulous Fried Rice, I can’t even go into them now – please go to her blog and look them over; I’ve noticed a new posting on her blog, too: How to Cook Rice Three Ways.
My first batch, following Pat’s careful instructions, was a vast improvement, and the taste was out of this world. I shared a second batch with a neighbor, who thought I was a genius, and by the third batch, I started feeling like a pro! Fried Rice has actually become a “go to” recipe for me when I have left over veggies in the fridge…or extra rice. Heck, I make extra rice now, just to make this Fried Rice.
I want to stress that this is Pat’s recipe, adapted to what I prefer…Pat gives more options on ingredients and advice. By the way, I have a whole list in my head of recipes from the Asian Grandmother I want to try – if I can ever stop eating this rice!
3 to 4 cups (about) cooked long or medium grain rice, leftover from the day before or refrigerated for at least 2 hours.
- 2 tablespoons canola or other neutral oil (see note)
- 1 to 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 medium yellow onion, coarsely chopped
- 1 cup carrots chopped into small pieces
- 3 eggs, mixed together in a small bowl
- 1 cup of frozen peas, defrosted and well drained
- 1/2 of small can of bean sprouts, well drained
- 2 tablespoons oyster sauce
- 2 scant teaspoons fish sauce
- 2 scant teaspoons Soy sauce
- White pepper powder (see note)
- a few shakes of sesame oil (see note)
- Green onion for garnish, if desired
You’ll want to cook this in two batches, so mentally divide the ingredients but prep them all at once. Mix eggs together and use about half in each batch. Have everything ready because it cooks in minutes.
Break up large clumps of rice and separate the grains.
Preheat a 14-inch wok or 12-inch skillet over high heat for about 1 minute. Swirl in the oil and heat until it becomes runny and starts to shimmer. Reduce heat to medium and add garlic and onion and stir until fragrant, about 15 to 30 seconds. Add the carrots and cook until tender, about 2 to 3 minutes.
Move all the ingredients to one side of the wok. Pour half the eggs into the pan and stir to scramble until they are almost cooked through but still a little soggy, about 1 1/2 to 2 minutes.
Add the rice, then the peas and bean sprouts, stirring and tossing between each addition. Use your spatula to break up any clumps.
Add the sauces, and salt, white pepper and stir everything swiftly around the wok until the rice is well-coated and colored (little bits of white here and there is OK) and heated through, about 3 to 4 minutes. Add more oil if the rice begins to stick to the wok; reduce the heat if it starts to scorch. Sprinkle with sesame oil, carefully; it can be strong. Taste and adjust seasonings if necessary.
Divide the rice among 2 serving plates. Serve immediately, and cook second batch.
- A full can of bean sprouts can be overwhelming. Drain a can into a container, catching the liquid. Use half of the sprouts but put the rest, covered in liquid in a ziploc and freeze. No waste.
- White Pepper and Sesame Oil – these add the elusive taste so many feel can’t be recreated at home.
- Even with no meat the nutritional values show there is enough protein, but many leftover meats can be added to fried rice.
from the kitchen of www.frugalhausfrau.com, adapted from the Asian Grandmother
Let’s talk about how to save money/time on this recipe:
- Use a coupon matching site! One of my favorites in my area is Pocket Your Dollars, but every store has a group of enthusiastic Coupon Matchers. Do not discount the savings! I check their site every week, even if I don’t “need” to go to the store and often find bargains I can’t pass up.
- Follow my 12 Strategies – You’ll see them on the upper drop down menu of every page and how I apply them, below.
- Don’t get discouraged if your prices don’t match mine! Keep shopping at the best prices and your fridge/freezer and pantry will be stocked with sales priced ingredients.
- Read below for additional tips as well as throughout the recipe, for saving time and managing food.
Per Serving (estimation based on 3/4 cup of rice, four servings total): 276 Calories; 14g Fat, 10g Protein; 58g Carbohydrate; 8g Dietary Fiber.
Put your own spin on it:
- You can vary Fried Rice with all kinds of ingredients, and use leftovers as the meat option, and even play with the sauce flavors until you get your own exact favorite blend.
- See the Asian Grandmother’s site for even more ideas.
My Payoff –
A quick budget meal that I can feel good about, and a great, frugal use of left over rice. The whole recipe is much, much less than I’ve paid for one serving of fried rice when I’ve been out.