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Criminally good home-cooked Chinese dishes

BY MARIALISA CALTA Published: May 14, 2012
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"Chinese Food Craving Lands Burglar in Jail," read the headline in The (Cedar Rapids, Iowa) Gazette.

According to the newspaper, a man caught shoplifting $8 worth of Chinese food from a local supermarket was, upon further investigation, found to be a suspect in a home burglary.

The credit cards and electronics he allegedly had stolen were recovered.

Fortunately for the burglary victim, the thief apparently did not have in his possession a copy of the new "What's for Supper" cookbook from Southern Living magazine (Oxmoor House, 2012). Had he owned it, he might have whipped up his own dish of pork fried rice and sidestepped arrest.

Most of us are not driven to crime to quiet our hankerings for Chinese food. But not all of us are able to satisfy those cravings on our own. What if, for example, your favorite takeout restaurant is closed?

Rather than risk arrest, consider adding a few easy recipes to your repertoire. Southern Living's "What's for Supper" has recipes for pork fried rice, lo mein, sesame ginger shrimp and several other Asian-inspired dishes.

The cookbook also includes more than 200 recipes that borrow from Mexican, Italian, French, Irish and all the other cuisines that make up the American canon. Even better is that all the recipes are touted as taking 30 minutes or less of prep time.

The recipes here just go to show that interesting, tasty, satisfying food does not need to be time-consuming, or require mail-order ingredients or professional chef skills.

If you want to cheat a little, serve the food in white paper takeout boxes with some packets of soy sauce you've squirreled away from previous feasts. Don't feel pressured to divulge the source. After all, you have the right to remain silent ...

PORK FRIED RICE

Yield: 6 servings

1 pound boneless pork chops, cut into 1/4-inch strips

1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

1 tablespoon sesame oil, divided

3/4 cup diced carrots

1/2 cup chopped onion

3 scallions, chopped

1 tablespoon butter

2 large eggs, lightly beaten

2 cups cooked long-grain white or jasmine rice, chilled (see note)

1/2 cup frozen English peas, thawed (optional)

2 to 4 tablespoons soy sauce

Season the pork with pepper. Heat 1 1/2 teaspoons sesame oil in a large skillet over medium heat, and cook pork 5 to 8 minutes or until no longer pink. Remove pork from skillet.

Heat the remaining 1 1/2 teaspoons sesame oil in the skillet; saute carrots and onion 2 to 3 minutes or until tender. Stir in scallions and saute 1 minute more. Remove the mixture from skillet and wipe skillet clean.

Melt butter in the skillet.

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