Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Fried Rice-True Fast Food

Yes, fried rice is true fast food. Well, basically anything cooked in a wok. Blazing, searing high heat cook meats and vegatables in mere minutes. Traditionally, woks are placed over a pit stove where wood or coal is burning hot and high. But here in my small kitchen, an electric burner will have to do. It is not ideal for high temp stir fry because it doesn't provide quick even heating to properly stir fry.

Traditions and proper equipment aside, you still can whip up a quick stir fry and have it taste wonderful. Just go to any Asian restaurant or take-out and you can see how many variations of fried rice are out there. Of course, I've always loved pork fried rice. It can be a side dish or featured as a main dish compiled with more ingredients.

The key way to make fried rice is to use previously cooked, cold rice. It will not work if you use rice that you just steamed. So make rice a day ahead or hours before and chill until cold.

Fried rice lends itself to whatever style of cuisine you want. Any type of meat or vegatable works well as do various garnishes and sauces. That is what I really enjoy about it. You can make fried rice out of most things in the pantry.

Ham and Egg Fried Rice
  • 2 cups of cold, cooked white rice
  • 1.5 tablespoon canola oil
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1 cup sliced green beans
  • 12 oz. diced ham
  • soy sauce, to taste
  • sesame oil, few splashes
  • ground black pepper, to taste
  • 2-3 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • sliced green onions, for garnish
The rice may clump up so make sure to break it up before stir frying. Also, allow ingredients to warm to room temperature if possible. When cold ingredients are added to a hot wok, it will kill your wok temp and you basically have to start over to get a high heat.

Heat a wok over high heat and add oil. Add onion and garlic and stir fry 1 minute or until onion browns. Add ham and green beans. Fry for 2 minutes. Reduce heat to medium and add rice. Constantly stir around the ingredients. Fry for 2 minutes and then add soy sauce, sesame oil, and pepper. Make a well in the middle of rice mixture and add in the eggs. Cook until eggs set.  Garnish with green onions.

Pork Fried Rice
  • 1.5 lbs pork, I used thin-sliced pork chops cut into small cubes
  • diced celery, carrot, onion, I don't measure out amount per say, I use what I think looks right
  • 2 minced garlic cloves
  • cooked cold rice
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • sesame oil, few splashes
  • dark, heavy soy sauce, for marinating
  • light, low-sodium soy sauce
  • black pepper
Marinade the pork overnight in a dark, thick soy sauce. I used Pearl Bridge soy sauce. It is a dark soy and worked awesome for a marinade. After a day, bring to room temperature about an hour before cooking. Heat wok over high heat and add canola oil. Place onions and garlic in wok and fry for 1-2 minutes. Add carrots and celery. Fry for 2-3 minutes. Add pork and stir for 2-3 minutes. Add rice, additional soy sauce and sesame oil. Fry for another 2 minutes. Done.

Fried rice may seem elementary but I think it takes time to really perfect the dish. It takes practice to cook the vegatables at the right heat to keep a crisp, crunchy snap to them, to get that right amount of fry into the rice, and to achieve a right flavor mixture.

These two examples of fried rice were pretty basic but I love the simplicity. Yeah, you could throw some prawns in the wok and amp it up with exotic vegatables/spices but I like the humble fried rice.

The ham and the green beans go well together, juicy, slightly smoky ham mixed with crunchy beans. The eggs add a nice creamy touch. I'll admit that I poorly handled the eggs. I got too excited and mixed the eggs into the rice instead of allowing them to cook in the middle well until set. But nonetheless, do not omit the eggs.

The pork was the feature in the second dish. The marinade really built flavor into the chopped pork. The dark soy sauce provides a real deep base flavor. It matched up well with the carrots and celery. The vegatables retained a nice snap and crunch to them. It was hard to keep the spoon away from bowl-to-mouth.

And the rice? Previously simmered in chicken broth and bay leaves, refridgerated overnight, it fried up well. I have tried to fry rice right after boiling it and it doesn't work at all. The rice needs to be cold so it will develop that fried flavor.

I know fried rice won't show up on any fine dining restaurants or won't make any Top Food lists but I am a fan of comfort food and quick and simple huge flavor foods, so fried rice ranks high for me.

1 comment:

  1. You should try and visit Captain Leo - Fried Rice Maestro.