Apr 13, 2013


Potluck Fried Rice
Click on photo to enlarge
Fried rice was considered to be peasant food in China, it is believed to have been invented sometime during the Sui dynasty (589 – 618 AD), in the city of Yangzhou in eastern Jiangsu province. Yangchow (Yangzhou) Fried Rice is still the standard by which all other Chinese fried rice dishes are judged: morsels of fluffy rice tossed with roast pork, prawns, scallions and peas. In American-Chinese restaurants you’ll sometimes find it called “special fried rice.” Today, fried rice dishes are found throughout China, particularly in the south, where rice is the staple grain. In northern China, they cook virtually the same dish, substituting noodles for rice and call it fried noodles (chow mien). These days both dishes are available all throughout China.

The people of Hawaii, and the rest of the world, also love fried rice. There are hundreds of ways to make fried rice, for most of us, however, it will remain a great way to use leftovers from previous meals. There are a few tricks you need to know about cooking fried rice. I always like to cook fried rice in a wok, it seems to work better because of all of the stirring and high heat required. The rice you use is important, it is best to use day-old, steamed long-grain rice, like jasmine rice, so it separates nicely. First you steam the rice, then spread it in a single layer on a baking sheet to cool completely. Refrigerate overnight, uncovered, to allow the rice to lose any excess moisture. Moisture will cause the rice to steam instead of fry. Another secret to cooking fried rice is that the ingredients are cooked separately helping them maintain their distinct flavors and then combine in the final stages of cooking.

Fried rice is popularly eaten either as an accompaniment to another dish, or as a course by itself. One way to present fried rice is to press it into a bowl, place your serving plate on top of the bowl and carefully turn it upside down. Lift off the bowl for a perfect round presentation of fried rice, then you can garnish the rice dome with scallions, trimmed and thinly sliced on the diagonal, or perhaps with a fried sunny-side up egg. An old Chinese way of presenting fried rice was to put it in a thin egg omelet, sort of like a crepe, that is wrapped around the rice with the ends left open. It seems that egg and long-grain day-old rice are two commonly shared ingredients that are used in most fried rice recipes.

When I prepare fried rice, I prefer to use Tamari sauce for seasoning instead of soy sauce, it brings more flavor to my table. If you are not familiar with Tamari sauce, you can read about it on this website. Here on Moloka'i, you can usually find Tamari sauce at Friendly Market.

Potluck Fried Rice
Potluck Fried Rice can be any combination you like, whatever you have in your refrigerator. This is how fried rice started in China, throwing together whatever you happen to have and making a delicious meal out of it. Most of the work is in the preparation. The cooking only takes minutes. (See photo above)

3 eggs scrambled into an omelet then cut into thin strips
canola oil for frying
1 1/2 cups leftover roast pork tenderloin cut into thin strips
oyster sauce
6 cups of cooked day-old long grain rice
Tamari soy sauce or regular soy sauce
1 cup green onions sliced thin, divided
1 clove of garlic, minced
1/2 cup celery, small dice
1/2 cup broccoli tops cut thin
1/2 cup red bell pepper cut into small 1/4" squares
1 1/2 cups bean sprouts or chop suey mix (bean sprouts mixed with carrots, etc)
sesame oil
sesame seeds or furikake for garnish
Japanese cucumber cut thin on an angle for garnish
seasoned rice vinegar

In a wok on low heat, scramble eggs in a little canola oil to make a small flat omelet like cake. Remove and cut omelet into 1/2" strips and set aside. Add a little more oil to the wok and turn the heat up to medium-high, add the roast pork strips. Cook and stir for a minute or so, then add one teaspoon each of oyster sauce and Tamari soy sauce. Cook and stir one minute more. Remove the pork and set aside. Add half the green onions, garlic, celery, broccoli, bell pepper, and bean sprouts to the wok. Toss, then season with 1 tablespoons of oyster sauce, one tablespoon of Tamari soy sauce, and one teaspoon sesame oil. Stir-fry for 2- 3 minutes, then remove. Add a little more oil to the wok and the cooked rice. Season the rice with 2 to 3 tablespoons of Tamari soy sauce. Stir-fry the rice until heated through. Now add the pork and vegetables back into the wok with the rice. When well mixed and hot, you are ready to serve.

Pack the rice into a small bowl like a cereal bowl. Put your serving plate on top of the bowl and carefully turn it upside down so the bowl is now on top of the plate. Remove the bowl for a rounded mound of fried rice. Garnish the top of the rice mounds with the egg strips and the other half of the onions. Sprinkle sesame seeds or furikake on top. Arrange thin slices of cucumber around the fried rice and sprinkle seasoned rice vinegar on top of the cucumbers. Sprinkle more sesame seeds on top of the cucumbers and the plate. Makes 6 servings. Note: Adding shrimp to this combinations of flavors would be a good thing, I just didn't have any when I put this dish together.

Thai Crab Fried Rice
4 cloves garlic, minced
4 tablespoons canola oil
3 eggs
4 cups cooked long grain rice (jasmine rice), preferably day-old
1/2 teaspoon sugar
salt to taste
white pepper to taste
6 scallions, chopped into 1/2 inch pieces
9 ounces cooked crab meat
1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
3 tablespoons Tamari soy sauce (see Tamari soy sauce on this site)

Pour the oil into a large skillet or wok set over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Crack the eggs into the skillet and let them cook for about a minute or so. Then scramble up the bits that haven't cooked. Add the rice (warm), and stir until it is coated in the oil. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 2 to 3 minutes. Then add the sugar, soy sauce, and salt and pepper. Cook for another minute. Add the chopped scallions and half of the crab meat. Cook for another minute, stirring occasionally. Serve the rice on a large plate. Sprinkle with the remaining crab and chopped cilantro. Season with Tamari sauce to taste. Makes 3 servings.

Ginger Fried Rice with Leeks and Fried Eggs
1/4 cup canola oil
1 tablespoon garlic, minced
1 tablespoons fresh ginger, minced
1 cup leeks, thinly sliced white and pale green parts only
2 cups rice, preferably day-old or at least cool
1 teaspoons sesame oil
2 teaspoons Tamari soy sauce
2 large eggs

In a large skillet or wok, pour half of the oil in over medium heat. Toss in the leeks and cook until they are softened, but not browned. It should take about 10 minutes. Turn the heat to medium-low if they start to develop any color. Season with salt. Add the rice and stir it together with the leeks. Cook until it is hot, just a few minutes. Turn off the heat. Divide the rice into two plates. Drizzle each with half of the Tamari sauce and sesame oil.

Meanwhile, in another large pan pour the rest of the canola oil over medium heat. When hot, add the garlic and ginger. Stirring occasionally, cook until the garlic is nicely browned, just a few minutes. Remove the garlic and ginger and drain on a paper towel.

Fry the eggs sunny-side up in the remaining oil left from frying the garlic and ginger. When done, place one egg on each mound of rice. Sprinkle the garlic and ginger on top. Season with salt. Makes 2 servings.

Shrimp Fried Rice with Vegetables
1 cup broccoli florets
7 teaspoons canola oil, divided
1 tablespoon garlic, minced
1 medium red bell pepper, cut into thin strips
1 medium yellow bell pepper, cut into thin strips
1 cup sugar snap peas, trimmed and halved crosswise
1 tablespoon grated peeled fresh ginger
1 cup cooked long-grain white rice (jasmine rice), chilled
2 eggs
1 tablespoon dark sesame oil
12 ounces peeled and deveined medium shrimp
1 1/2 cups frozen edamame (soy beans), thawed
2 tablespoons Tamari soy sauce, or to taste
1 1/2 tablespoons rice vinegar
1 teaspoon Sriracha (Chinese hot chile sauce)
1/4 cup thinly diagonally sliced green onions

Steam broccoli 4 minutes or until crisp-tender; set aside. Heat a large skillet or wok over medium-high heat. Add 1 teaspoon canola oil to pan. Add garlic, bell peppers and sugar snap peas to pan, and stir-fry for 2 minutes. Place vegetable mixture in a large bowl. Add remaining 2 tablespoons canola oil to pan; swirl to coat. Add ginger, and stir-fry for 10 seconds. Add rice and eggs, stir-fry for 5 minutes or until rice is lightly browned and eggs are scrambled. Remove rice mixture from wok, and add rice mixture to bowl with the vegetable mixture.

Wipe the wok with paper towels. Return pan to medium-high heat. Add sesame oil to pan; swirl to coat. Add shrimp; stir-fry 1 minute. Add edamame; stir-fry 1 minute. Stir in Tamari soy sauce, vinegar, and Sriracha; bring to a boil. Cook for 3 minutes or until liquid thickens slightly. Add vegetable mixture and green onions; stir to combine. Cook for 1 minute or until thoroughly heated, stirring frequently. Serve immediately. Makes 4 servings.

Fried Rice with Chinese Sausage
and Sugar Snap Peas
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 tablespoon Tamari soy sauce
1 1/2 teaspoons sesame oil
3 tablespoons canola oil
2 cloves of garlic, minced
4 cups cold cooked long grain rice (jasmine rice)
2 spring onions, green and white parts separated then sliced
2 Chinese sausages (Lup Cheong), quartered lengthwise then diced (available in Asian supermarkets)
2 carrots, diced and cooked
1/2 cup fresh sugar snap peas, or frozen green peas
1 tablespoon oyster sauce

Beat the eggs with 1 teaspoon Tamari sauce and 1/2 teaspoon sesame oil. Heat up a wok or large saute pan and add 1 tablespoon of canola oil. Pour in the eggs and swirl around to coat the bottom of the pan.  When just cooked, remove eggs from wok and thinly slice. 

Heat up a wok again and add 2 tablespoons of canola oil. Add the garlic and saute for 3 minutes. Add the rice and 2 teaspoons of Tamari soy sauce. Fry on high heat for about 5 minutes or until the rice is hot and fragrant. Transfer to a bowl and set aside. Clean the wok and heat again. Add 1 tablespoon of oil and the diced sausages. Saute the Chinese sausages over high heat until they are almost brown, then add and the whites of the spring onions. Stir fry for 2 minutes. Add the carrots and peas, and oyster sauce. Stir fry for another 2 minutes. Put the rice back in and stir to mix. Stir fry for 3 minutes or until the mixture is piping hot. Add the eggs and the greens of the spring onions. Stir for a minute then turn the heat off and serve. Makes 4 servings.

Chicken Fried Rice with Red Bell Pepper
3 cups day-old cooked long-grain white rice
4 large boneless, skinless chicken thighs
salt and freshly ground pepper
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 large eggs
2 scallions, trimmed and thinly sliced on the diagonal
1 teaspoon peeled and grated fresh ginger
1/2 cup diced red bell pepper
2 tablespoons Tamari soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/2 cup homemade or low-sodium store-bought chicken stock
1 cup snow peas, trimmed, sliced on the diagonal into thirds

Cook 1 cup of rice according to package instructions the day before and keep in the refrigerator uncovered to dry out the moisture. Cut chicken thighs into thin strips. Season with salt and pepper. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a medium nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until hot but not smoking. Cook chicken until just cooked through, 3 to 4 minutes. Transfer to a plate. Reduce heat to medium; add remaining tablespoon oil. Add eggs; just as whites begin to set, stir to scramble. Add half of the scallions and ginger; cook 1 minute. Add reserved rice and bell pepper; cook 2 minutes. Stir together Tamari soy sauce, sugar, and stock; add to skillet. Add snow peas and reserved chicken; cook until heated through, about 3 minutes, then serve, garnished with the other half of the scallions. Makes 4 servings.

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