23.6.09

In search of Perfection: Fried Rice



All right, I've read countless blog posts about how to cook the perfect fried rice. Mine's not perfect but it's one dish that I can proudly declare I do well no matter where I cooked it at. This is the first dish I learnt how to cook from my mum. She does a wicked Fried Rice unlike those that you can find in Chinese restaurants but a modified version of Singaporean Fried Rice (without the chilli). Anytime I'm missing home-cooked food, Ma's Fried Rice comes to mind. So without further ado, I shall introduce my own version of Fried Rice that you can make in your kitchen regardless of which country you are located in (as along as you can find RICE).

For those who do not know, yes, Rice is a cereal grain. That makes it a Functional Food (read my previous post about Functional Food). A good source of Protiens, Phosphorous and Iron. Rice also contains Calcium and Vitamin B. According to this article, Rice is good for ingestion and diarrhoea.

Someone asked me why is Rice so widely consumed in Asia? Well, no other food can provide as much energy as Rice! It is a staple in our diet pretty much like breads and potatoes in the western diet except Rice is a cereal grain and contains more nutrients than a slice of bread!

There is a myth about Rice being Hypoallergenic. Of course this is not true. You can find more information about Rice Allergies on this site.

A point to note: Cooked Rice carries the Bacillus Cereus spores which produces toxin at temperatures between 4 to 60 degrees Celsius. Therefore, proper storage of cooked rice is important.

And as usual, wikipedia has a whole article about Rice for the curious minds.

Back to Fried Rice cooking, since there are so many varieties of Rice (from short to long grain), each differing in the amount of water absorption and length of cooking time, you have to know the rice you have at hand. Not to mention, new and old rices have different cooking time too.

For rice that is optimal for frying, it has to be cooked till Al Dente and not soggy (Overcooked rice is hard to fry as they clump together and they become a sticky glob even after frying!). I do not possess a rice cooker and I cook most of mine using a small saucepan (preferably non stick if not you have to stir the rice to prevent it sticking to the bottom). After the rice is cooked, fluff it and cool it before you proceed to fry. Hot rice is hard to fry and yes.. big gooey mess.. Most people will advise you to use overnight rice but if you are real hungry, just leave the cooked rice for a good 30 minutes and you can fry it on the same day!

When do you add the eggs? After you fry your chopped onions, spring onions (only the white section) and garlic, crack two eggs and just scramble them in the oil. A generous amount of oil is recommended to ensure the eggs are not too hard. Remove them from the pan before they get crispy! Add your other ingredients for frying.. sausages, vegetables, shrimps. Once you are satisfied with (how burnt the ingredients are), proceed to chuck the rice into your pan (oh yeah I forgot, there is no need to invest in a wok for this purpose, really). Once you have managed to mix your ingredients with rice, add your lovely soft eggs to the pan.

Remember this: Frying on high heat is the key (as with most Chinese dishes that require frying). I always feel real upset when I watch people (pan) frying vegetables or rice on low heat. You do not need to cook the ingredients, you merely want to caramelise them! So the quicker the better!

To season your rice, you can use Soya Sauce (my mum loves Dark Soya sauce to add a nice brown colour to the rice) or simply Salt and Pepper! There is no hard and fast rule to what you can add. Anything is possible. From Ikan Bilis (anchovies) to boiled vegetables, as long as you like it, the Fried Rice can take it!

So that concludes my Fried Rice post, hope you enjoy cooking it!

No comments: