We all heard it over and over again that the perfect fried rice requires you to use overnight cooked rice that’s been dried out in the fridge. The fridge’s cold air drives the moisture out of the rice which is what prevents the rice from clumping to each other when you stir-fry it in a hot wok. This is what deter people like me from making fried rice. Rarely do I have leftover rice in the fridge never-mind having enough leftover to make a full dinner portion (they’re left overs for reasons).
Usually when I want to make fried rice, I want it NOW! I’m not going to make the rice and let it dry overnight to make it tomorrow — the urge is gone by then. Since the main problem with using fresh rice is the high level of moisture that causes lumping when stir fried hence preventing the fried rice from attaining its each kernel characteristic. I overcame this by adding less water to my rice and letting the rice cook at a slightly higher temperature so the moisture will evaporate. The usual rice to water ratio is 1:1.25 but if I do 1:1 ratio, the rice is cooked but slightly dry. I should say that I make my rice by stove and not a rice cooker (I lost mine while moving 4 years ago, and I haven’t needed a rice cooker since–it takes the same 30 minute time to cook it so there really is no difference–extra counter space for me!) Fluff the rice when done at 30 to 40 minutes, then let cool for 20-30 minutes. Stir-fry.
The second must for a perfect fried rice is a mighty hot fire!!! This is only achievable in a professional kitchen and not with a home-grade stove. This is somewhat true because the hot wok from the hot fire imparts the fragrance of coziness into the fried rice which us Chinese refer to as “wok hay”- wok’s air! Even though that is true, you can replace the wok’s air fragrance by faking it with fragrant ingredients like dried shrimps, Chinese/Vietnamese sausages/spam, shallots and/or garlic — all minced/blended finely. Finish with scallions and minced basil at the last second to add color and aroma.
We know Americans don’t eat fried rice on its own. They eat it with an array of dishes like we would with white rice. Since the fried rice here will have a full flavor profile, the accompany dishes should be light so not to overpower the fried rice. Cooking meat as simple as a salting the chicken piece, pork or steamed fish will do. Chinese bbq meats are always superb like BBQ cha siu!! Mmmm….
A famous fried rice dish is BBQ Cha Siu Fried Rice, but I have learnt never to cut the cha siu up into pieces to stir-fry with the fried rice because it will overcook and dry out the pork which defeats the purpose of getting BBQ cha siu. I agree 100%. Adding cold or room temperature BBQ pork on top of the hot fried rice will warm up the meat plenty for consumption.
Eggs is another popular ingredient in fried rice. The problem with adding raw eggs near the end to stir fry with the rice will always ruin it because it becomes too wet unless you got a professional stove which can dry out the moisture real quick! At home, just don’t! Precook the eggs separately then add it in.
Lastly, I added basil on top of green onions because I wanted the extra fragrant that the Thai basil gives to dishes. And I agree!
Makes 4 cups/4 person
1)Cook Jasmine white rice
4 cups Jasmine white rice
4 cups water
Rinse rice until water runs clear. Add water. Put on stove with largest stove diameter. Put on lid. Set heat to a 3 (high low). Let it steam for 30 minutes nonstop. (Usually you would lower the heat to Low 1 after you see some boiling going on, but we’re not gonna do it here because we want to the water to evaporate) IF the boiling is too vigorous, do turn the heat down a slight notch but not too much. Alternatively, you can try to lower heat to low after 10 minutes and steam for another 20 minutes at low until cook. Then turn the heat up to 3 high low to cook for an additional 10 minutes to dry the water out. THe rice on the bottom will be crisp and drier than usual, but you’ll only want to the rice above this crisp layer. Once the rice is done, fluff rice and remove 3/4 of the rice onto a bowl. Let cool. [Make sure you taste the rice that it is cook through and that the individual kernals are not too sticky – if not cook through, you might just need to cook it longer when you stir fry it but if it’s too sticky, you might have to wait until tomorrow night or be disappointed with sticky fried rice]
2)Blend dried shrimps, shallots, and spam in a processor separately.
1/4-1/2 cups dried shrimps
3 small shallots
3 1 inch slices of spam
3) Add condiments to stir fry rice
1-2 tbsp vegetable oil
1 tsp sesame oil
1 tsp Xiao Shing cooking wine
1 tbsp fish sauce
2 tsp honey
Optional final toppings:
1 cups of bbq spare ribs, diced
1 cups peas and carrots, frozen
2 spring onions
1 cup thai or italian basils
Heat vegetable oil in a wok until very hot. Lower heat to a medium high. Add shallots and dried shrimps and stir fry for 15 seconds. Add blended spam and stir fry for 15 seconds. Add cooled rice. Add an additional 1 tbsp oil all over rice on top to coat and stir so all the rice is covered in oil and in the dried shrimp, shallots, spam mixture. Add sesame oil, cooking wine, and fish sauce. Stir for 15 seconds to mix well. Turn heat up to high and let let rice sit for 30 seconds unstired. Stir after 30 seconds, rice should show some brownness on one side. Stir well. Let sit again for another 30 seconds. Add honey and stir well. Turn heat off. Add bbq spare ribs, green onions and basil and stir well.
Put fin foil loosely over to cook other foods.
Top with a fried egg, stir fry veggies, or steamed fish will makes this the perfect rice companion instead of plain white rice.