Fried Rice - A guide and an easy recipe

When I was in Secondary school in Singapore, we had to take home economics.  One of the first cooking classes we had we learned how to make one-dish meals, namely fried rice and fried noodles.  Pretty standard for Singaporeans I suppose.  I love rice, fried or otherwise. My favorite fried rice is still my grandma's in which she uses little cubes of luncheon meat (or what you guys call Spam) and the carrot/corn/pea veggie mix plus a few more fresh ingredients thrown in.

The other night we were lazy and got some Chinese take out. I ordered the boneless spare rib combo (which is enough for three people) and saved almost 2/3 of what was delivered.  Boneless spare ribs is basically char siew, a red, barbequed pork that's somewhat sweet and extremely tasty and perfect for fried rice.

Which is what I'm having for lunch today.



First things first - you can tell a restaurant knows how to cook fried rice by the color of the rice. If it's brown? They don't know what they're doing. Fried rice isn't supposed to be brown.  Authentic fried ricehas a yellow tint to it (thanks to fresh eggs), it's sometimes almost still white and is only very very very very slightly brown from a dash of soy sauce. You're not supposed to soak food in soy sauce. It's a condiment, not gravy.

There are few places in Nashville that do it right and so far the only two restaurants from which I've had authentic, good fried rice are Pho Yen Hoa (yes it's a Vietnamese place) and Chinatown in Green Hills.

So! Here's how you can make this dish at home. It's really simple and can feed up to 5 people.





Grandma's Fried Rice

Ingredients

  • 2 cups jasmine rice, cooked the day before (I recommend using a rice cooker and slightly less than 4 cups water)

  • 2 tablespoons plus 2 more tablespoons peanut oil*

  • 2 cups frozen veggie mix, or fresh green beans cut into half inch or inch-long bits

  • 3 large eggs

  • One small onion chopped

  • Minced garlic to your own preferred taste

  • Salt, pepper

  • Meat option: One small can spam cut up into 3/4 inch cubes or char siew/leftover boneless spare ribs cut up. Or you can use chicken, beef, shrimp, whatever your heart desires but make sure it's cut into small pieces and not large slices.

  • Cilantro and/or green onions for garnishing

  • A wok or large frying pan (the deeper the better it will get messy)

  • Two spatulas


Directions:

If you're using raw meat/seafood: season the meat however you like, stir fry and set aside. If you're using spam, fry the cubes of spam first till they're somewhat crispy on the outside.

Heat up 2 tbsp oil wok/frying pan. Crack the eggs into a bowl and stir to break the yolk and mix into the white. Pour eggs into heated oil and lightly scramble with a sprinkle of salt and pepper. Before the eggs start to cook and while they're still liquidy, add the rice. Using both spatulas, stir and fry (whadaya know) - you're trying to coat the rice in egg.  Add the garlic and onion and a splash or two of soy sauce. Stir stir stir. Crumble the big lumps of rice and coat evenly. When you're satisfied, add the veggies and the meat and continue to toss and stir. If you feel the rice is starting to stick or clump add more oil. Salt, pepper to taste, and fry till everything is cooked thoroughly and veggies aren't still cold and meat is cooked.

Dish onto a serving platter, garnish with cilantro and/or green onions or if you're fancy, you might have scrambled and fried up another egg and cut that into strips to sprinkle on top of the dish.

This can get messy, but that's the fun of stir fry.  Really, there's no true order to when you add things but I prefer letting the rice get coated in egg and turn yellowish before anything else.  I also don't like my veggies to be overcooked.

*Peanut oil is used in a lot of Asian cooking because it's great for high heat and won't burn. I find that the flavor of stir fry is a lot closer to what I grew up eating when I use peanut oil but please feel free to use what you prefer.