Of Rice and Men

Chinese Fried Rice

Fried rice is one of those dishes that work well as a side dish or an entire meal on its own. Though most commonly associated with Chinese food, it can accompany many other flavor profiles just as well. Personally, I love Chinese food, or at least as I know it, which is actually Canadian-Chinese food. Because Chinese food around the world adapts so readily to local or regional palates, then I’m sure I’ve never had authentic Chinese since I’ve never been to China. In Canada, Chinese food tends to be quite sweet. In Norway, it’s very salty. And my wife likes neither. However, slowly and surely as I attempt to convert her to liking, well, anything she says she doesn’t like, fried rice has become a winner. Most of my culinary challenges usually entail finding that perfect version of something my wife says she doesn’t like, and getting her to change her mind. To date, Chinese food has been the single hardest cuisine to nail perfectly to her liking.

This featured fried rice has become such a hit, my wife often requests it for dinner. And though she enjoys it simply as a meal, I still get a chance to make something — anything sweet and sour or just sticky. I don’t think I’ll ever change her mind on sweet ginger-garlic spareribs, or crispy chicken balls covered in a bright red cherry sauce. If you wish to eat fried rice as a meal then just add whatever protein you prefer: chicken, shrimp, beef, pork etc.

The key to great fried rice is slightly undercooking the rice, and choosing a rice that will stand up to high heat stir-frying. I’m convinced long-grain white rice is your best choice, though you may find others that work well. I’d steer clear of Jasmine since it is a sticky rice. After about 1 minute in a wok, you’ll end up with a sticky mess. And I’d also avoid Basmati for it’s very delicate texture. It will break apart too easily as you stir and will also leave you with a starchy mess. One other tip I can offer is how you cut your vegetables. The aromatics such as ginger and garlic should be cut very fine, and the other veggies should provide sufficient texture, but not cut too large. The French term used here is “brunoise”, often linked to a mirepoix (the holy trinity of carrot, celery, and onion diced finely). Yes, it can be tedious but who wants a big chunk of carrot in their rice. It looks ugly, and is awkward to eat especially since the bigger the veggies, the longer the cooking time. My own general rule for stir-frying or woking is anything more than 4 or 5 minutes is overkill.

fried rice4

Fried Rice:

  • 3 shallots (or 4 scallions), finely chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tbsp fresh ginger, minced
  • 2 red chilies, finely chopped
  • 1 large carrot, finely diced
  • 1 stalk celery, finely diced
  • 1 stalk from a head of broccoli
  • 2 large white mushrooms, diced
  • 2 eggs
  • 3 cups long-grain undercooked rice, cooled
  • 1/4 cup peanut oil
  • 1/4 cup soya sauce
  • 1/4 cup hoisin sauce
  • 1 tbsp sesame oil
  • 2 tbsp fresh cilantro or parsley, depending on taste

1. In a small bowl, combine the aromatics – shallots, garlic, ginger, and chili peppers. Set aside.

2. In a second larger bowl, prep the other veggies – carrot, celery, broccoli stalk, and mushroom. Set aside.

3. Over med-high heat in a wok, heat oil. Pour in the beaten eggs to make an omelet. Flip once to fully cook the eggs, but don’t let it brown. Put the omelet on a plate and cut into 1 inch squares.

fried rice3

4. In the same wok, over high heat add the aromatics. Stir continuously for 1 minute.

5. Now add the veggies. Stir for 1 more minute.

6. Add the soya sauce, hoisin sauce, and sesame oil. Stir well into the veggie mixture for another minute.

fried rice1
A Brunoise cut works best for optimal texture and distribution of flavor.

7. Add the rice and toss to mix well. Stir for another 2 minutes, the add the omelet and cilantro.

fried rice2

8. Serve immediately on its own or with other accompaniments.

fried rice final
Panang Chicken w/ Chestnuts and Pineapple, Peanut-Coconut Vegetable Stir-Fry, and Fried Rice

10 thoughts on “Of Rice and Men

      1. Hiya, it’s all in my stomach, being churned around. The tomato was good, and worked well with the spices to give a bit more vibrance to the colour. For some reason, the colours pop more with the added tomato juice. Also, I didn’t want the rice to dry out without getting flavoured, so the juice alllowed the seasoning to get absorbed into the mixture. The water dried out without letting the mixture burn. Finally, I added a teaspoonful of fermented butter, just because. I’m notorious for getting distracted while cooking. Thanks again for my lunch idea.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. That’s great. Glad to hear it was good. Tomato works well in Spanish fried rice, so I suppose it could be good in Chinese rice. I’ll take your word for it and give it a try next time. Thanks for the tip and have a great New Year!!

        Liked by 1 person

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