A friend of mine keeps asking if I know how to make Fried Rice. Because, as he explains, he really likes the stuff down at the local “chinese” restaurant. Yes I do, maybe, but then again maybe not. I mean I know how to make 炒飯 (chao fan)/fried rice, but I don’t know if I know exactly how to mimic the classic Chinese-American version, nor do I necessarily want to. Not that I have anything against it. Just that to me fried rice is just yesterday’s rice and whatever else I can find around the kitchen, seasoned to taste depending on the weather or whim. I’m not sure if he would actually like fried rice the way I make it.
In Taiwan, where fried rice is fairly popular and easy to find around such places as Universities (because it is cheap), where certain stands specialize in serving only fried rice, it comes in an array of styles and flavors. None of which really resemble the U.S. version and almost always it is served as an all in one meal, not an accompanying side along with your sweet and sour chicken.
Fried rice is essentially a dish perfect for and often comprised of leftovers. In fact it actually requires leftover rice, freshly cooked rice will not work. Being that it is a dish of leftovers there should be no fried rice “recipe” more just a loose method for combining cold rice, some sort veg, and some sort of protein. It can be simple or complex, but mostly it is just a way to use up leftover rice along with other bits and pieces, odds and ends, trimmings, or whatever you can find in your ice box. I do however, keep on hand some dried chinese sausage for just such an occasion.
That said here is a suggested recipe for Fried Rice.
- Leftover rice, about 4 or 5 cups
- 2 eggs, beaten
- 5 oz. of meat, I usually use chinese sausage, but you can also use barbecue pork or fresh shredded pork if you like. (if using fresh shredded pork marinate it in the following; 1/2 T. soy sauce, 1/2 T. of rice wine, 1 t. of cornstarch, and a dash of white pepper)
- 3 or 4 spring onions, chopped
- 5 cloves of garlic, minced
- 1 T. minced fresh ginger root
- 4 or 5 leaves of chinese cabbage, or 3 or 4 bok choi, or some similar vegetable, or a combination of vegetables, diced (about 2 cups in all)
- 1/2 a carrot shredded
- 1/3 c. of stock or water
- 1 T. soy sauce
- 1/4 t. salt
- 1/4 t. white pepper
- 2 t. sesame oil
- Break rice apart and set aside (this is easier if you wet your hands a bit first.
- Heat a wok over medium heat, when the wok is hot add about 1 T. of oil and add the beaten eggs. Scramble until just firm and remove the eggs from the wok and set aside.*
- Return the wok to the heat add about 2 T. of oil. Add the chopped spring onions, minced garlic, and minced ginger root, fry until fragrant. Add the chinese sausage or barbecue pork and fry for a couple minutes (if using raw meat, turn heat to high and fry until just done).
- Add the diced chinese cabbage (or other veg), the shredded carrot, and the stock or water. Bring to a boil over high heat, then cook for a couple minutes.
- Reduce heat to low and add the rice. Stir the rice until it is fully incorporated and heated through. Add the soy sauce, salt, white pepper, sesame oil, and scrambled eggs and stir to mix thoroughly. Cook for a further minute or so, stirring, then remove from heat and serve.
* Note; I often just cook the beaten eggs in a nonstick skillet without scrambling, forming a cook egg sheet that I cut into thin strips, but that is just because I like the way it looks.