Ever since I ate at my first cha chaang teng in Hong Kong earlier this year, I’ve been obsessing about one of the classic dishes – baked pork fried rice.
The cha chaang teng is a Chinese diner with affordable comfort food, and the dishes are a mix of Chinese and Westernized cuisines. The baked pork fried rice dish is an excellent example, with the bottom layer of fried rice (Chinese) and the topping of tomato sauce and cheese (Western, more specifically, Italian).
Now when I go to a cha chaang teng, I like to order this dish and see the variations. What makes this dish successful, IMHO, is when the thick pork chop is cooked perfectly and the tomato sauce has a nice, slightly sweet flavor instead of acidic.
Recreating this dish at home is both simple and laborious. Simple because it’s just a matter of some basic parts coming together, but laborious because it’s like making three different dishes (fried rice, pork chop, then tomato sauce). The recipe below works out for a single serving for myself because the baking dish I had only can fit one pork chop comfortably. (It’s also a little healthier because I pan fry instead of deep fry the pork chop.) But you can easily adjust the ingredients to make enough to serve you or your family. Enjoy!
Baked Pork Fried Rice
Makes 1 to 2 servings
1 to 2 pork chops (preferably 1-inch thick)
1/2 cup bread crumbs
1 T mixed shredded cheddar cheese (white and yellow)
extra virgin olive oil
For fried rice
1 to 2 cups leftover steamed rice
1 egg, whisked
1 t ground white pepper
pinch of salt
For tomato sauce
1 can (14.5 oz.) whole peeled tomatoes
1/2 onion, diced
1 clove garlic, finely diced
1 T Worcestershire sauce
1 t sweet basil
1 t Italian seasoning
1 T brown sugar
1 T tomato paste
1 T cornstarch with 1/4 cup water
Preheat oven to 400 degrees
Start by making the tomato sauce. In a medium saucepan, warm a tablespoon of oil over medium heat and add onion and garlic. Cook until translucent, about 2 to 3 minutes. In a bowl, pour out tomatoes from the can and roughly crush them with your hand. Then add to the saucepan of onions, along with Worcestershire sauce, sweet basil, Italian seasoning, brown sugar, and tomato paste. Bring pot to a boil and then reduce to a simmer, cooking for about 30 minutes to let the flavors blend. When almost done, prepare the cornstarch by adding cold water and stirring. Bring the pot to high heat and then slowly add a little cornstarch slurry at a time, allowing the sauce to thicken. Add more of the cornstarch until you get the thick consistency like gravy.
While the tomato sauce simmers you can be making the fried rice. In a non-stick skillet or small wok, warm a tablespoon of oil over high heat, then add the rice. Season with white pepper and a pinch of salt. Cook for a minute, and then push rice to the side and add egg. Quickly mix the egg with the rice until cooked, then set aside. (TIP: It helps if the rice isn’t sticky, so if your rice is fresh, put it in the refrigerator for a few hours before cooking.)
For the pork, season with a pinch of salt on both sides and then dredge in the bread crumbs. Then warm oil to cover the bottom of a non-stick pan, and pan-fry the pork chop over medium high heat to brown the pork chop, about three minutes on each side.
Assemble the dish: Using an oven-safe baking dish, I start with the fried rice on the bottom. Place your partially cooked and browned pork chop on top. Laddle on enough tomato sauce to cover the pork chop and rice. Sprinkle the cheddar cheese on top. Then place in oven and cook for about 20 to 25 minutes. (The cooking time should be adjusted based on the thickness of your chop.)
When done, remove from oven and let cool for a few minutes before serving.
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