Shanghainese Sausage & Veggie Rice
Shanghainese caifan (菜饭), or vegetable rice, is an old style, slow cooked rice that deeply absorbs the fresh and savory flavor of bok choy.
Moderation makes this dish healthier. We use brown rice, which is more nutritious and holds a better texture for this dish than white. The traditional recipe uses lard for flavor, but we replace that with broth, which is just as tasty but cuts the fat. We add a bit of sweet Chinese sausage, just enough to balance the lingering bitterness in the bok choy. Lastly, this version finishes the dish in a wok or wide skillet to get a crispy bottom layer of rice that tastes amazing.
2 cup of brown rice
3 cups of chicken or veggie broth
1 Chinese sweet sausage link
12 heads of baby bok choy
4 shiitake mushrooms
1 tablespoon of oil
1 tablespoon of soy sauce
1 cup of water
Step 1: semi-cook the rice
Place the rice and broth in a pot over medium heat. Chop the sausage into thin slices and add it to the pot. Once everything is boiling, lower the temperature to a simmer. Let the rice cook for about 15-20 minutes until most or all of the liquid is absorbed, then take it off the heat. The rice will absorb the broth and sausage flavor, and come out partially cooked and ready for the vegetables.
Step 2: cook the bok choy
Finely chop the bok choy and slice the mushrooms. Get a non-stick wok or wide bottomed pan (so the rice won’t stick when we add it later). Add the oil to the wok and place it over medium heat. Add the bok choy and the soy sauce. Cook until the bok choy is wilted and turns a darker green. They should release plenty of liquid into the pan. This liquid is going to absorb into the rice, which provides a nice flavor.
Step 3: add rice & mushrooms
Add the chopped mushrooms and the rice and sausage to the wok with the bok choy, and mix. Turn the heat to medium low and cover the wok. The rice will look slightly raw when first added. It will finish cooking on a slow simmer with the vegetables.
Step 4: Let the Rice Cook
Let the rice cook and watch for the liquid to get completely absorbed. Don’t stir! To get a brown crisp, leave it alone and give it time to cook. After there’s no more liquid, the rice should continue to cook for 5 minutes, without stirring, so the bottom can brown. Total cook time is about 20 minutes. Use a spatula to scrape under the rice and check the bottom for crisp – once it’s there, the dish is done.
Step 5: Mix the rice & Serve
Use a spatula to mix up the rice, breaking up the fried bits at the bottom to distribute their crunch throughout the dish. The result is a delicious, savory dish of healthy brown rice and nutritious greens with a crispy texture and very little fat. Enjoy!