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Shhh: Curry Fried Farro with Egg, Shrimp and Pancetta

fried farro bowls

I feel irrationally anxious about posting a recipe on this blog that contains meat. Now that I’ve announced to the world that I don’t eat it, you’d think I’d stand by that claim. To be fair though, I did say that my diet was largely vegetarian, not completely, and besides, I have a very good reason for this.

See, I love pancetta. I love its deep saltyness, love how it makes the flavour of any ingredient you pair it with come alive. They say that bacon is the one thing many vegetarians miss the most when they give up meat. Well, pancetta is my bacon of choice.

Perhaps coincidentally, (or perhaps not, seeing as I used to cook with it all the time), it’s also my boyfriend’s bacon of choice. So for Andrew’s birthday earlier this month, I bought 100g of pancetta at the supermarket, in order to make one of his favourite dishes. Of course the recipe (Shrimp and Beans by Giuliano Hazan- you must try it, it’s delicious) only called for half of that, and the leftover sat in the fridge for about a week while I fretted. Surely one meaty meal, for a loved one’s birthday, is forgiveable? But two? I wasn’t sure. But letting the remains go to waste- that’s got to be worse than eating it, right? In the end my desire for pancetta waste reduction won out, and I decided to use up the leftovers with this fried rice dish. 

Of course the rice here is not actually rice. I love this classic Chinese dish, but had been getting a little bored of it earlier this year. Ever since I saw this post from The Kitchn, however, I’ve fallen back in love. I love farro, the ancient grain of the Romans, and using it in place of rice makes perfect sense. Barely changing the flavours at all, the chewy, nutty grains simply improve the texture of the dish. 

The addition of the pancetta might seem odd at first. I’ve been doing this since high school, but I can understand how the addition of something so clearly Italian to a dish so obviously Asian might seem strange to some purists. But trust me: with the shrimp, vegetables and curry powder, this is fusion at its best.




fried farro

  • Curry Fried Farro with Egg, Shrimp and Pancetta
  • serves 4
  • 2 Tbs. neutral oil
    1 small onion
    1 bell pepper (any colour), cored, seeded and roughly chopped
    50g pancetta, chopped or sliced finely
    g raw shrimp, peeled and de-veined
    3/4 cup fresh or frozen peas (if frozen, defrost them first)
    1 tsp. minced fresh garlic
    2 tsp. minced fresh ginger 
    1 small red chili, de-seeded and chopped finely
    2 tsp. hot curry powder
    2 to 3 cups cooked farro
    2 eggs, lightly beaten
    2 Tbs. soy sauce
    2 Tbs. sesame oil 
    1/4 cup finely chopped green onion
    2 Tbs. finely chopped coriander
  • 1. Once you’ve got everything mise en place, (which can take some time with so many ingredients, but is very worth it for a recipe like this!), heat 1 Tbs. of the oil in a large nonstick pan over med-high heat. Add the onion and pepper and cook for 5-10 minutes, until they soften and begin to brown. Transfer to a bowl and set aside. 

    2. Turn the heat up to high and add the pancetta. Cook for about a minute, then add the shrimp. When they are pink all the way through and the pancetta is getting crispy (about 1-2 minutes later), add the mixture to the bowl with the onion and pepper. 

    3. Briefly add the peas to the pan to warm them through, about one minute. Add to the bowl with everything else.

    4. Put the remaining oil in the pan and heat through. Add the garlic, ginger and chili, and cook for about 30 seconds. Add the curry powder, mix quickly, and then add the farro. Stir so that the farro gets evenly coated with the oil/garlic/ginger mixture. 

    5. After a minute or so, when the farro is warmed through, push it  to the sides of the pan so you have a space in the middle. Add the beaten eggs and leave to cook for about 30 seconds without touching them. Then start to scramble the eggs- you can either scramble them in the well completely, to leave more curds, or mix into the farro mixture, in which way they act like a thickener. 

    6. Add the veggies, pancetta and shrimp back into the pan, and stir to heat through. After a minute or two, stir in the soy sauce, sesame oil, green onions and coriander. Remove from heat and serve immediately. 


  1. Chris says:

    LOL this reminds me of Lillian’s story about walking away from the vegetarian life due to some misplaced bacon on a sandwich. m is for mmmMMmm m is for Meat, coincidence? I think not!

  2. Ele says:

    Chris, are you kidding me? Lillian gave up being veg because she ate some bacon? Was it just too delicious to resist, or what?

    M could also be for mmmmm mung beans.

  3. Hilary says:

    Your eco credentials are impeccable. You should feel free to enjoy some (free-range, non-cruelty) pancetta once in awhile! Ele, could you enlighten me on the difference between farro and quinoa? Are they in the same family?

  4. Ele says:

    Good question, Hil. As far as I know farro and quinoa aren’t related- they certainly look very different. Have you honestly not had either? Tsk.

    As I mentioned, farro is an ancient grain originally cultivated in Europe and Asia. The part that you eat is actually the wheat berry. People tend to be very confused about it- some claim it’s a type of emmer wheat, and some think it’s its own species. Some others think it’s actually spelt, but I’m pretty sure that’s wrong.

    Quinoa comes from South America, and was actually the staple grain in the diet of the Incas. The seed and germ is the edible part of quinoa, and it’s very good for you. Super-high in protein and other stuff, it’s healthier than farro, but not quite as delicious. I like it cooked with milk and honey as a porridge-type breakfast, though.

  5. Hilary says:

    Yes I have had them, but it was a long time ago. For some reason I thought they must be from the same family, depsite looking quite different. Not sure why I thought that! That was a very interesting lesson :)