Sweet & Spicy Fried Rice

Using a real wok is scary business. I did it for the first time in 2009 during a cooking school outing in Thailand. The burner is nothing like what we're used to here—America is far too obsessed with safety to allow that much flame anywhere near food. The wok actually tucks itself down into the fire and the flames lick up the high sides to make the pan the most molten surface ever cooked upon. And while whatever you're stir-frying likely took a good deal of time to chop, it takes only seconds to cook entirely. That's exactly the kind of balance I like with my meal prep. This stir fry takes slightly longer due to the lack of readily-available combustion, but comes together incredibly fast without a ton of chopping. There are some bonus chips that cook while you prep, which add a great boost of nutrition to this spicy, sweet take on a dish that I learned about from the incredible Melissa Clark. Starting with her great flavors, I bulked this up with greens, fermented goodies, rice, and made it friendly for my soy-free self. Not sure if my Thai instructor would approve of my non-stick wok, but hopefully he'd at least enjoy the meal.

1 bunch mustard greens, washed, dried, de-stemmed, torn into pieces

2 Tbsp toasted sesame oil

1/2 tsp red pepper flakes

2 1/2 tsp salt, divided

4 Tbsp sesame oil, divided

2 inches fresh ginger, peeled and sliced very thinly

6 garlic cloves, sliced thinly

8 scallions, sliced into 1/4-inch pieces

3 Thai chiles, sliced thinly

1/2 c cashews

1 lb boneless skinless chicken thighs, cubed into 1/2-inch pieces

1/4 c mirin

3 Tbsp coconut aminos, divided

4 dates, sliced

2 c cooked, day-old brown rice

1 1/2 c fresh basil

Juice of 1/2 a lime

Kimchi, for serving

Preheat oven to 300°. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicon mat.

In a large bowl, combine half the mustard greens, toasted sesame oil, red pepper flakes, and 1/2 tsp salt. Massage well until the greens wilt slightly. Spread evenly on the prepared baking sheet, careful to separate the greens so they can get crunchy. Bake for 15 minutes. Remove from oven, flip the leaves, and return for another 15 minutes, or until crisp, but not burnt.

Meanwhile, heat an empty wok or large sauté pan over very high heat for 2-3 minutes. Add 2 Tbsp sesame oil and swirl around. Add in ginger, garlic, and scallions, flipping constantly until the ginger and garlic begins to brown at the edges—about 3 minutes. Add the chiles, cashews, and chicken and sauté until the chicken is browned on the exterior—about 4-5 minutes. Pour in mirin, 2 Tbsp coconut aminos, dates, and remaining mustard greens. Reduce heat to medium and cook for 5 minutes, or until the liquid is nearly evaporated and the greens are wilted. Move to a bowl and set aside.

Reheat the wok over high and add in the remaining 2 Tbsp sesame oil. Add in the rice and stir fry constantly until it begins to brown and get crisp. Add in the remaining Tbsp of coconut aminos and 1 tsp salt and continue to stir fry. Add the chicken mixture back to the wok, along with the basil and combine well. Remove from heat and season with lime juice and additional salt to taste. Serve with mustard green chips and kimchi on top.