Sunday, May 29, 2011

Fried Rice

Fried rice. Another Chinese take-out staple. Can you believe I have never actually tried my hand at making this seemingly simple dish? It's hardly gourmet cooking. Rice, egg, soy sauce and bits of vegetables. Really how hard could it be? And why oh why have I waited so long?

The sweet and sour chicken prompted me to finally try my own fried rice. I wanted a rice side, but was weary of the basmati and brown rice that often accompanies our meals. I let Chef Madhu Menon of the former Shoik restaurant be my guide. The article listed below as the recipe's source is more an outline than recipe, full of careful advice and suggestions. Sometimes these are the greatest instructions to follow. The recipe that follows is my creation based upon that guidance.

guided by the advice of Chef Madhu Menon

serves 2-3

The Ingredients:
1 c cooked brown or white rice, preferably a day old
1Tbsp vegetable oil + sesame oil to taste
1-2 scallions
1 clove garlic, minced
1 egg whisked
1/4 cup peas
1/4 diced carrot
any assortment of leftover veggies and meats
2 tsp oyster sauce or fish sauce
2 Tbsp soy sauce
pepper to taste

The Process:
Gather all of your ingredients...everything will cook up incredibly fast.

Heat a wok or large skillet till the surface is almost smoking. Then add the oils and spread it around till it coats the surface evenly.

Temporarily move the wok off the heat and the add the garlic and scallion, then stir for about 10 seconds. This is to prevent the garlic and scallion from burning. Move these to the side of the wok and add the egg. Cook, stirring, until they are lightly scrambled but not too dry.

Now add the rice to the pan, crumbling any big sticky blocks with your hands to ensure they're all separate. Add in the peas, carrots and any other tidbits your heart desires.

Toss the rice and the veggies well and keep stirring for another minute or two so that the rice grains are properly coated with the oil. Then add pepper, fish or oyster sauce and soy sauce. Stir the mixture around again for another minute. Taste the rice to check saltiness. Serve hot.

The Review:

Given the simplicity of this dish, we are certain to see it again. Possibly in the form of a main dish! The leftover mentality makes this perfect as we head into summer...all of those farmer's market veggies needing to be consumed before they wilt and wither away. And how easy to alter this recipe to appease the vegan, vegetarian and omnivores among us! Omit the egg and oyster sauce, toss in some extra veggies or tofu for the vegan. Mix it up with some egg for the vegetarian. Throw in any assortment of chicken, shrimp, pork or beef for the omnivore...

This incarnation was pretty basic and a bit generic. But now that I know the premise behind the simple dish, I'm more inclined to play around with my spice cabinet and leftovers. How about a Thai version with ginger, lemon grass and chili? Or Japanese with a touch of miso and sake? Indian curried fried rice? Perhaps a Korean touch of kimchi? Or even Hawaiian style with spam, and pineapple? Oh the possibilities...

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