Friday, March 5, 2010

Fried Rice

After many requests ... here is one of my best recipes.

I first learned how to make fried rice on my mission. I served in Taiwan and most of my companions were native Chinese. Some could cook and some could order take out. I learned a few things about fried rice. First, it is so yummy and each time it is different. It is called leftovers and they eat it for breakfast. It is hard to find in restaurants. I mean why would you go to a restaurant to order leftovers? I only saw it in one restaurant my entire mission. They always served steamed white rice. Sticky. Oh how I love sticky rice. By the way, the proper way to cook sticky rice is half the battle, so here it is:

STICKY RICE

Measure the rice in the ratio of 3:4 rice to water. For this recipe, I made 1 1/2 cups of rice to 2 cups cold water. But I am getting ahead of myself. First measure the rice and pour it on a pot or bowl. Add water to cover and swish the water around with your hands. The water will turn cloudy white. Pour the water out without loosing your rice grains. Repeat. Repeat again and again until the water no longer turns cloudy but stays clear. This usually takes three or four times depending on how good of a swisher you are. Get all the water out and then add the cooking water following the above ratio. Make sure it is in a pot big enough for it to triple. It will probably only double, but you need lots of room for the steam. Put in over high heat and watch it until it boils. As soon as you see the bubbles, turn the heat to a low simmer, cover with a lid and set the timer for twenty minutes. When the timer goes off, DON'T touch it. Turn off the heat and set the timer for another twenty minutes. When that is done, you may lift off the lid and VOILA, sticky rice. Or you can buy a rice cooker and follow the manufacturer's instructions.

So now on to FRIED RICE.

So in the Chinese home, they make a lovely dinner of rice, veggies, and a little meat with yummy sauce (not sweet) and then seasonal fruit for dessert. The leftovers go in the fridge and in the morning, all that goes in a wok with a little scrambled egg. And there you have it: Fried Rice. It is indeed a breakfast food. In many homes, it is eaten every morning. Sometimes people will take take it for lunch if there is still some leftover. It is the ultimate Chinese comfort food.

So how do you put that in a recipe? It has taken a while. When I make it, it is always a little different. But I have developed a standard recipe. This is a sure fire winner. My girls love this and will eat it for breakfast, lunch, and dinner so I make a big pot.

You will notice that this version uses bacon. I do this for several reasons, not the least of which is because it tastes so good. For one thing, bacon is so flavorful that you can actually use less meat and get more bang for your buck than using other types. I spoke with my friends from Taiwan about whether that was kosher. They now have several Costco's throughout Taiwan and bacon is one of the most popular items. The Chinese are not food snobs. They will use anything that tastes good. Bacon is becoming more and more the rage with people who have access to it. Why? Because it has a lot of flavor.

So here goes, for real this time:

FRIED RICE

1 1/2 cups rice cooked with 2 cups water so it is nice and sticky. (This can be cold or hot. Usually they start with it cold, because it was in the fridge.)

1 medium brown onion, chopped and sauteed until very soft
1 lbs bacon, or other meat of your choice; cooked and chopped
3 eggs, scrambled
1 small bag mixed frozen veggies (I like to get the pea, carrot, green bean mix)
1/2 cup water
2 Tbsp soy sauce
salt and pepper to taste

On top of the cooked rice, dump in the onions, meat, scrambled eggs(cook them ahead of time) and frozen veggies. In a small cup, mix the water and soy sauce and then pour over the rest. Mix it all up with a spoon until everything is all distributed. (If you pour the water and soy sauce separately, it won't mix as well and some portions may be more strong tasting than others.)Now you are going to fry this in thirds, depending on the size of your pan. Add oil (you can use the bacon grease, peanut oil, or regular canola oil. If using olive oil, add a little butter to cover the taste. Do not use sesame oil, it is far too strong although a few drops will add a nice flavor.) Add just enough oil to cover the bottom and get it hot. Add one third of the mixture and spread it out on the bottom of the pan. Let it get nice and crusty and then start turning it and mixing. It is the crusty part that you want. When the moisture is cooked out and you have lots of crusty parts, Take it out of the pan and repeat with two more batches. Remember, you want as much rice to get cooked on the bottom of the pan as possible. Add more oil each time too, but just enough to cover the pan, not to deep fry.

Mix all three batches and season to taste. If using bacon and bacon grease, you most likely do not need to add any salt. So definitely taste it BEFORE you add any. I usually add quite a bit of pepper, 'cause that is how I roll.

Now that you have the hang of it, go nuts. Try different combinations. Soon you will be cooking Chinese food for dinner just to get leftovers so you can make it for breakfast in the morning.

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