Sunday, January 29, 2017

On Fried Rice

As I am retired from performance entertainment cooking, most of my culinary activities are focused on making food for local consumption (that would be Wife and I). It is an interesting challenge since we are both eating much less than we used to. But it's an interesting challenge to build good tasting and enjoyable meals but keep the quantity down.

About six months ago I saw an article in the Wall Street Journal about fried rice. I've never had much success making Asian fried rice so I was intrigued. The author (who I don't remember) talked about how fried rice was this great tableau for using leftovers. Well that resonated because one of the hallmarks of my new cooking life is trying to make use of everything. What this author said was critical to successful fried rice was cooking each ingredient separately, seasoning each ingredient as you cook them, and then assembling them in the end with whatever overall flavor you desired. AND what was equally interesting to me was when the author talked about seasoning each ingredient separately, all he was talking about was the use of salt and some sherry wine.

So I started to experiment. Cook each ingredient separately, Season with just a touch of salt and sprinkle of sherry wine. That includes the rice itself. I took each ingredient I cooked and when they were done put them on a sheet pan. Then at the end I would create a flavor base. The first one was just some of my homemade Malay curry paste and some soy sauce. Then add all the cooked ingredients to mix with the flavor base and reheat.

The results have been spectacular. As a result we probably have fried rice now every other week. I've played around with the flavor bases. I tend to make them using prepared Asian condiments and sauces I've got in the fridge. However, the one constant is a Vietnamese or Thai shrimp paste. You don't use much of it but it gives great depth and it sings Asia.

If you use a lot of rice and have leftover rice, I strongly recommend this technique.


Renee Michelle Goertzen said...

I'm pretty sure I learned to make fried rice with this technique from Daughter 1's blog post, years ago. I really like the texture of each one individually cooked, although it takes some time.

I usually use soy sauce, mirin, and a bit of sugar and ginger as my sauce. Any other suggestions for a flavor base for vegetarians?

alexis said...

I shall try but the shrimp paste is so fragrant it stinks up the whole flat and is difficult to use even tiny smidgens. I tend to cook one food at a time but that is because I have a tiny wok.

de-I said...

Alexis, I mix the shrimp paste with the other ingredients of my flavoring and cook them together so when it cooks the fish flavor is not as potent.

RMG - I would try Chinese fermented black beans (puree them with some oil) or use some thing yeasty like Marmite or Vegamite. Remember you only use a little bit a long with the other flavorings.

Agent W said...

Sounds delicious!