Saturday, July 14, 2012

Veggie Fried Rice

Dear Lauren,

You love fried rice. Looooooooove it. And now you know how to make it. So why is it when you come home, I always make it? 

 Veggie Fried Rice.
 Industrial-size soy sauce.
(Did you know you don't have to refrigerate it? That's what my friend Woo says. I sure do talk about her a lot, don't I.)

 Add a little. OK, a lot.



 Wow, you eat fast.

 The fried rice recipe we use is better than takeout. Right?

I see your head nodding. I guess it's hard to talk with your mouth full.

Thanks for coming by today. Love you.

And I didn't forget to write down all the fried rice information for you. Here it is. Study these rules from Jaden Hair of Steamy Kitchen (from her website). I learned how to make fried rice from her cookbook and I just don't see how I could teach you these things any better than she lays them out in her rules!

rules for best shrimp fried rice

use previously chilled leftover rice

Here’s rule #1. You have to use yesterday’s (or earlier) cooked rice as it’s had a chance to dry out a bit in the refrigerator. The heat of the pan and the soy sauce will re-steam and hydrate the leftover rice. If you try to use freshly cooked, hot rice (like I did years ago,) you’ll end up with too much moisture in the rice and will make a heavy mess in the pan.

high heat is essential in cooking fried rice

But high heat doesn’t mean that you need super high BTU’s or a gas stove. All it takes is a bit of patience to let your pan or wok heat up. The high heat ensures that whatever ingredients that you put into the pan gets fried quickly and that each grain of rice gets hot to the core.

fry ingredients separately

Fried rice has many different ingredients, and in my home it’s usually just a mixture of whatever vegetables, meats or seafood I can scrounge up from the refrigerator or freezer. But whatever the ingredients, you want to make sure that you can taste each individual one. To do this, you’ve got to fry your meat or seafood first, remove from the wok or pan when 80% cooked through and then toss it back in towards the end of the stir fry to finish cooking. Because if you try to fry all of the ingredients at the same time in the same pan, they’ll all compete for “wok time” and everything will end up tasting exactly the same!

no no touching!

A common mistake of stir frying is to constantly poke, prod, turn and flip every second. In a restaurant kitchen where flames are so powerful they can singe your brows, chefs have to keep things moving. But in home kitchens, our stovetops need a little more time to do their work to heat up and cook our food. If you keep poking at the rice, the grains will break, release more starch and turn the entire thing goopy. It will never have a chance to fry correctly…not enough “wok time” as my Mom likes to say. The best thing is to do is to spread out the rice, use the entire cooking surface of the pan and just leave it alone. Put your spatula down and back away from the stove for a minute. Give the rice a chance to heat up. Then flip, toss and redistribute the rice, again spreading it out and leaving it alone to cook another side."
Here are a few notes from me:
In the cookbook, she says you don't have to have a wok. You can use a cast iron skillet. That's what I do and as always, my cast iron skillet is fantastic, I adore it and I find it perfect for fried rice.

Keep cooked rice on hand. Fried rice is a great way to use up leftovers. According to Still Tasty, cooked white rice keeps in the refrigerator 4-6 days and in the freezer for 6 months.

Fried Rice Recipe

Adapted from Jaden Hair's recipe for Shrimp Fried Rice in The Steamy Kitchen Cookbook

Servings: 4 Prep Time:10 minutes Cook Time:10 minutes

2 tablespoons vegetable oil (divided)
2 eggs, beaten in a small bowl
3 green onions, minced, both white and green parts
3-4 cups previously cooked leftover rice, grains separated with a fork
3/4 cup frozen carrots and peas, defrosted (or any frozen or leftover vegetable you have on hand, today we used peas and broccoli)
1 tablespoon fish sauce (don't wrinkle your nose, it's gives amazing flavor, not fishy at all!)
2 teaspoons sesame oil

Cook your scrambled eggs in a non-stick skillet and when they are nearly done remove them from the pan and onto a plate.

Heat a cast iron skillet or wok on high heat. When the pan is hot enough for a bead of water to instantly sizzle and evaporate, add only 1 tablespoon of the cooking oil and swirl to coat pan. Add the vegetables you have chosen (not the green onions yet) and cook briefly til you see them lightly browning in spots. Remove them from the pain and onto the plate with the eggs.

Add in the remaining tablespoon of vegetable oil and add the green onions and stir fry until fragrant, about 15 seconds. Add in the rice and stir well to mix in the green onions throughout. Spread the rice all around the surface of your pan and let the rice heat up, untouched until you hear the bottoms of the grains sizzle, about 1-2 minutes. Watch the clock. You'll be tempted to stir before the time is up. Take Jaden Hair's advice and don't!

Use the spatula to toss the rice, again spreading the rice out over the surface of wok or skillet.

Drizzle the fish sauce all around the rice and toss. Add your vegetables, the cooked eggs, and sesame oil, tossing to mix the rice evenly with all of the ingredients. Let everything heat back up again, until the rice grains are so hot they sizzle and pop. Serve and let everyone add any amount of soy sauce they like.


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