I hate to say it. I really do. But at the risk of sounding like a cheesy broken record, I was sure I'd hate this dish when I first heard about it. It's fried rice, but it sounds like breakfast: eggs, bacon, maple syrup. When I think of fried rice, I don't think of waffles. I was sure this would just be strange.
Sigh. But if you've read posts of mine before, you know the ending: I loved it. Of course. How predictable. One of these days (maybe even later today) I'll post a recipe that I was sure I'd love . . . and did.
This recipe originated (in my life, anyway) with my mother-in-law. For years, my in-laws tapped sugar maple trees and had the sap boiled down into syrup, which they then sold. It was quite an operation: they would work out a system with their neighbors wherein they'd tap their trees, and in exchange for this privilege, they'd give the homeowners a share of the syrup. Each tree would be drilled several times and have surgical tubing inserted for the sap to run through, then the tubing would run over to a central barrel which would collect the sap. Then, every day or so, someone in Abe's family would come along with a truck with a massive collection tank on it, and use a pump to empty out the barrels. Then, the sap would be delivered to a man who ran a syrup-making operation. He'd process and bottle the syrup for them, then they'd collect it and sell to others. In fact, one of my first dates with their son was an afternoon of collecting sap from all the trees in the neighborhood and taking a tour of the syrup-making building. It was a grown-up field trip.
So as you can imagine, they're all about maple syrup in their household. His dad will pour it over ice cream, drink it in coffee, even use it to sweeten water for drinking. Still, I thought using it in Chinese food was a stretch. When I saw Nancy pouring it over rice and celery, I thought she was nuts. But then I ate it . . . and ate some more. And, man--it was different, but in a really good way. Really good.
I've made a few modifications to her original recipe to (marginally) up the nutrition- and Asian-quotient. I know it will still sound strange when you read the list of ingredients, but it's delicious! Give it a try!
Maple-Sesame Bacon Fried Rice
4-5 c. cooked rice (preferably made the day before)
4 eggs, scrambled
3 ribs celery, diced finely
1 c. minced onion
9 strips of bacon (but I've used more on occasion), 3 Tbsp. rendered fat reserved
1/2-2/3 c. frozen peas
2 Tbsp. sesame oil
3 Tbsp. maple syrup
1 1/2-2 tsp. soy sauce
Fry up bacon in large frying pan until almost crisp and fat is mostly rendered. Remove bacon from pan to drain and cool, and reserve 3 Tbsp. of the rendered fat. (if it hasn't rendered that much, add a little vegetable oil to the pan to make approx. 3 Tbsp. of fat to fry in.) When the bacon is cool, chop it up into pretty small pieces--larger than bacon bits, smaller than slices. Simultaneously, scramble the eggs (I do this in a separate pan, but you could also do it in the hot pan with the other stuff--that's up to you.).
To the pan (and the 3 Tbsp. fat), add the celery and onion, and saute over medium heat until the celery is beginning to get tender. Then add the rice, bacon, scrambled eggs, and peas. Up the heat to medium high, and start stirring.
In a small bowl, whisk together the sesame oil, maple syrup, and soy sauce. Drizzle over the warm rice mixture and stir to combine.
You can be the judge of when it's done--make it piping hot and a bit crispy, or just warm it all the way through. Either way, just make sure the peas are thawed and warm. Then enjoy!