Crispy Pork Rice Salad with Fish Sauce

Crispy Pork Rice Salad with Fish Sauce

Earlier this month I had the privilege to travel to Arkansas with The Feedfeed and USA Rice to visit Ralston Family Rice Farm. Now over the years I have visited plenty of vegetable farms, fruit orchards, dairy farms, and even some farms that grow walnuts, almonds and hazelnuts. But a rice farm? This was new to me! So when presented with the opportunity I jumped on it, as I realized I knew nothing about rice farms, and especially how they grow rice in the U.S. 

During our trip we learned about Ralston’s sustainable farming practices, using the nearby river as their water source to flood their fields. Ralston Family Farms only mills and packages rice that they grow and because of this they can offer their customers 100% traceability. While we were there we not only got to tour the farm, but we also were treated to eating most of the rice varieties that Ralston grows. Some of my favorites were the Purple Rice, Red Rice, Golden Rice and the Rice Grits!

Now I don’t know about you, but rice is a big staple in my house. And now that I have a new rice cooker, we are cooking rice in the evenings before bed about 2-3 times a week. That way, the following day we already have rice cooked for dinner. Plus I prefer when the rice has a little time to sit and cool before you cook with it. We like to mix it up during the week and cook off a few different varieties of rice, making sure to have one of the speciality varieties that offer whole-grain and antioxidants.

Crispy Pork Rice Salad with Fish Sauce
Crispy Pork Rice Salad with Fish Sauce
Crispy Pork Rice Salad with Fish Sauce

This Crispy Rice Salad with Fish Sauce is a combination of some of my favorite things to eat. First you make the Cilantro Peanut Rice, which I could eat just on it’s own. To make things simpler, cook the U.S.-grown long grain white rice the day before that way it’s ready to go when you want to make the cilantro peanut rice. Then you make a quick and easy Lime Fish Sauce that I like to serve on the side that way everyone can determine how little or much they want. Next is the Crispy Caramelized Pork. This is a game-changer, and can also be made with ground turkey or chicken if you prefer. Serve with cucumber, limes, and handfuls of mixed fresh herbs. Sometimes I’ll even set out some little gems and the family makes lettuce cups with this crispy rice salad. This salad keeps well in the fridge as the flavors mold together, just keep the Lime Fish Sauce served separately that way the pork stays crisp.

Crispy Pork Rice Salad with Fish Sauce
Crispy Pork Rice Salad with Fish Sauce

Crispy Pork Rice Salad with Fish Sauce

Cilantro Peanut Rice

3 cups cooked U.S.-grown long grain white rice (from about 1 cup dry rice)
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1 teaspoon kosher salt
½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 cup roasted, unsalted peanuts
1 shallot, sliced into thin rings
2 tablespoons chopped cilantro leaves with tender stems

1 small English cucumber, halved, and thinly sliced 
1 lime, sliced into wedges
1 cup herbs total (mix of cilantro, basil, and mint)

Combine rice, lime juice, and salt in a large serving bowl; set aside.

Heat ¼ cup olive oil in a small skillet over medium heat. Add the shallot rings and cook, until brown and crisped, about 5-7 minutes. Strain the shallots and let cool (and continue to crisp) onto a paper towel.

Return pan to medium-low heat and add peanuts. Cook, stirring, until peanuts turn a medium shade of brown and become fragrant, 5–8 minutes. Add peanuts, shallots and cilantro to rice and toss together.

Taste and add more salt and lime juice, if needed. Set aside 

Lime Fish Sauce

1 small shallot, thinly sliced into rounds
2 tablespoons fish sauce
¼ cup lime juice from about 2 to 3 limes, plus more for serving (optional)
½ teaspoon sugar
½ teaspoon red-pepper flakes, plus more to taste
2 scallions, thinly sliced

In a small bowl, whisk together shallots, fish sauce, lime juice, sugar, chile flakes, and scallions. Set aside.

Crispy Caramelized Pork

3 tablespoons canola oil, or other neutral oil
1 pound ground pork
2 tablespoons fish sauce
2 teaspoons caramel sauce (you can also mix 1 teaspoon molasses + 1 teaspoon water)
1 teaspoon sugar
2 green onions, green parts only, thinly sliced 

Warm the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the pork, breaking it up into small pieces for 3-4 pieces until no longer pink. Add the fish sauce, caramel sauce and sugar, stirring to combine. 

Turn the heat to medium-high and cook for another 5 minutes until deeply browned. Keep stirring and spreading out the pork to cover the bottom of the skillet. Lower the heat to medium and cook for another 3 minutes, stirring to avoid burning. 

Remove the skillet from the heat and stir in the green onions. 

Using a slotted spoon, add the crispy caramelized pork to the cilantro peanut rice. Top with cucumbers, cilantro, mint and basil and serve with lime wedges and the lime fish sauce. 

This post is sponsored by USA Rice and The Feedfeed