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Tuesday, May 4, 2010
I never met a fried rice I didn't like. While there are some I definitely like more than others, it is one of those foods I love to eat, especially on a lazy Saturday afternoon.
Fried rice originated as a way to use up leftovers. A simple and frugal idea: toss last night's rice with small bits of vegetable and meat, throw in a couple of lashings of salty umami-laden soy sauce and lunch is served.
Who would have guessed something so simple and humble could have turned out so horribly wrong. I like to think of myself who has some skill in the kitchen but the first time I made fried rice it was an utter disaster. Instead of the comforting, glorious fried rice dotted with bits of egg, peas and onions I had envisioned, the reality was something else altogether. My fried rice was a heap of steaming, gluey rice. Not even a distant cousin of the real thing, it was a science experiment gone terribly wrong.
Since then, I have learned there are rules to Fried Rice Club. If you follow the rules, you too, can have moist, fluffy, flavourful fried rice.
1. You must use cold rice.
2. You must use cold rice.
3. When your wok is hot and the oil is shimmering, and only when your wok (or fry pan) is hot, do you add rice.
4. Leftover ingredients are a must.
5. Meat and vegetables should be bite-sized pieces.
6. Most ingredients must be cooked before adding them to rice.
7. Keep everything moving.
8. If this is your first time at Fried Rice Club, you must use cold rice.
As I have mentioned many times before, my kitchen goddess, Kylie Kwong, often makes use of malt vinegar in mnay of her recipes, including her fried rice. (I have a cookbook of hers that devotes practically an entire chaper to fried rice!) While I am not sure if this is an authentic flavour, I use it quite abit in my fried rices and stir frys. Malt vinegar imparts a great deal of rich flavour and colour( like soy sauce) without the sodium and doesn't have a sharp acidic vinegary taste.
If you don't like bacon (what?), you can substitute other types of meats such as thinly sliced chicken, pork, beef. Flash fry them first before adding them in. (Or you could use cubed pieces of Chinese sausage, kolbasa, etc. Still need to fry them before adding to the rice to render some of the fat & to crisp up the meat.)
Bacon Fried Rice
4 strips extra thick bacon
2 tbsp + 2 tbsp vegetable oil
4 c cold white rice
2 tbsp reduced sodium soy sauce
1 tbsp malt vinegar
1/4 tsp chili flakes
1 c pineapple tidbits, drained well
salt & pepper to taste
3 green onions, thinly sliced or a small bunch of chives, snipped into 1 inch pieces
optional: 1 tsp toasted sesame oil
1. Slice bacon into small strips and fry until crisp. Drain on paper towels and set aside.
2. Heat a large fry pan or wok. Add vegetable oil and swirl oil around until it shimmers. Crack the eggs over the oil and stir quickly. Breaking up the egg with a wooden spoon or spatula. Remove from pan when soft curds form and set aside.
2. Add vegetable oil and heat again until the oil is hot and shimmers. Add cold rice, breaking up pieces with a wooden spoon or wok spatula (if you have one). Cook for at least 2 minutes, moving the rice around the pan.
3. Add soy sauce, malt vinegar & chili flakes. Stir to coat rice.
4. Add in the drained pineapple and stir well to incorporate.
5. Return bacon and egg to rice mixture and stir again.
6. Taste for seasoning. Add salt, pepper and green onions and sesame oil, if using. If you like your fried rice a bit darker, experiment with a touch more soy sauce or malt vinegar. (Start with small increments such as a teaspoon and taste before adding again.)
7. Serve immediately.
If you are adding adding vegetables or uncooked meat, you will need to cook them slightly first. You can cook them in your fry pan first and set them aside until ready to use.