Saturday, January 21, 2012

Fried Rice: Chinese Equivalent of Hash

I have always loved fried rice. When I was little, the two things I would pile my plate high with would be fried rice and sweet and sour pork. There was some wonderful and addictive about that salty rice filled with vegetables and meat. I was always so jealous of our old family friends, first and second generation Chinese immigrants. The mother of that family would cook fried rice for us when we'd come over to visit. She'd usually supplement the fried rice with a range of other foods, as well, but I only really remember the fried rice. Now, as recipes go, fried rice is not very structured. Each time I cook it, I go by the seat of my pants and my memory. What I do generally follows this rough outline:

2 cups uncooked rice
1/2 lb of meat (meat can be deli sliced or chunks of raw meat cut into 1/4" cubes)
3-4 cups vegetables, such as:
    Frozen Peas
    Green Shallots
    Bamboo Shoots
  I generally decide what vegetables I'm going to use based on what we have in the fridge.
3 eggs, scrambled
1 cup Soy Sauce
1 TBSP Hoison Sauce (Opt.)
1/4 cup Peanut Butter (Opt.)
Vegetable oil

Cook the rice in your preferred method. I usually use a steamer. While the rice is cooking, fry the meat until it is a golden brown. Wash and cut up your vegetables. To defrost the peas, I usually fill a bowl with frozen peas, then put hot water on them from the facet, dumping out the water and refilling the bowl until the peas are no longer held together. If you are planning on using carrots, fry them until they are soft, then set them aside for later.

To cook the eggs, pour a small amount into a pre-heated, no-stick frying pan. There should be enough eggs to cover the bottom of the pan, but should be no more than a 1/4" thick. Cook until eggs can be flipped over without falling apart. Cook other side, then put on a plate for later, and repeat process for the rest of the eggs. After eggs have been cooked, cut into little squares. Cut the meat in a like manner to the eggs if it is deli sliced meat.

Once rice is cooked, put into a pre-heated, no-stick frying pan with small amount of vegetable oil at the bottom. (Either electric or stove top will work. Electric is just neater.) Cook rice for about 15-30 minutes or until rice gets chewy. Add meat and vegetables. Cook until vegetables are soft. Add soy sauce, hoison sauce, and peanut butter. Stir until all ingredients are mixed in, then serve.

Serving size starts out at about 1.5 cups, but slowly increases as your guests discover how wonderful the fried rice is.

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