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Tuesday, January 5, 2010
The easiest way that we commonly use to polish off left over white rice is to turn them into fried rice. Simple as it may sound, it is not easy to churn out a good dish of fried rice. I have heard more than once that one of the ways to gauge the standard of a Chinese Restuarant is to check out their fried rice. A colleague of mine (he doesn't cook) used to test our culilnary knowledge by asking us if we knew the procedure to fry rice. He used to tell us with an obvious smugness that one should fry the egg separately before frying the rice because the egg would get cooked too much if we were to fry them together. I didn't believe him and just rolled my eyes...
I have concluded, after reading many recipes, watching numerous cooking programs and eating even more numerous plates of fried rice, that a good plate of fried rice for me,should encompass the following characteristics :
1. Rice should be loose and well separated - grain by grain. It should not be clumped together.
2. I like my fried rice to be evenly coated with the egg. What the Chinese like to call 'wrapping silver with gold' - the gold being the eggs and the silver refers to the white rice grains.
3. That elusive 'Wok Hei' - the fragrance of the Wok - really separates the good from the celestial.
I decided to pack fried rice for lunch today. The ingredients I have in the fridge include bacon bits (left over from Christmas) and I have stashed away, 2 packets of Japanese Sakura Ebi (Dried Sakura shrimps).
I had first tasted Sakura Shrimps a few years back when it was in season in Taiwan. The Japanese restaurant was serving fried rice in a heated stone bowl. The Sakura Ebi, something of a delicacy was mixed at the table and stirred quickly in the stone bowl. It was simple but amazingly delicious.
For those who are new to the Sakura Ebi, these are very small shrimps that are caught twice a year in Shizuoka Prefecture in Japan. However, these are also now bred in Taiwan. These little crustaceans are really crunchy and fragrant, perfect as a garnish, in flour battered fritters and as the Japanese vendor told me, best in チャハン (chahan : Fried Rice).
Here's my version of Sakura Ebi Fried Rice.
1 bowl White Rice (Thai Jasmine Rice)
2 stocks Green Spring Onions diced.
2 Tbsp Bacon bits
1/2 bowl Dried Sakura Ebi
2 Eggs, beaten
2 cloves Garlic, smashed with the back of a knife
generous dash pepper
Salt to taste
1/2 tsp Light soya sauce
1. Heat the wok to very hot. Add 2 tsp of oil. Stir fry spring onions and Sakura Ebi quickly and dish out.
2. In the same wok, add 1tbsp of oil, heat to smoking hot. Add smashed garlic and fry quickly to bring out garlic fragrance. Remove garlic cloves from wok. Add bacon bits and stir fry quickly to prevent burning.
3. Add beaten egg and rice. Stir fry rice quickly to coat rice grain with egg. You should fry with a very hot wok, so that the cooking time is kept very short. Add light soya sauce and a very generous dash of pepper. Add salt to taste. Add in (1) and fry quickly. Turn off fire.