12 - fantastic fried rice
I’ve spent many of my cooking years trying to get a good grasp on Chinese cooking, with lackluster results nearly every time. (And from those pursuits the only totally inedible meal I have ever served my husband. Before I even tried to serve it I knew it was the ultimate disaster in terms of texture and bland misbalanced flavor.) First of all, I have trouble following recipes. I guess I’m a recipe anarchist, I always feel the need to alter, edit, or add to every recipe I come across. Add to that the fact that I have always had a hard time with chinese cooking - the combination of salty and sour and sweet is a delicate balance - and I always screwed it up by trying to do my own thing. The one regret I have from culinary school is that I didn’t take the Cuisines of China class. I simply avoided what I assumed would be a failure for me.
But recently, I received this book as a gift, and it has changed my life. Beautiful photographs, accessible recipes and ingredients, easy to follow directions. Probably for the first time in my life I measured ingredients. I measured, guys! I read the Sun Tak fried rice recipe, and then I made it a handfull of times in a row. Like 6 days in a row. I made it with roast pork, with veggies, with tofu, all with delicious results. I adapted the main ingredients to fit my needs, but I actually measured, teaspoon by teaspoon, the sauce ingredients because the results were a perfect fried rice, every time. Then I adapted it (every so slightly) to my tastes, only after following it word for word so many times that I really understood the balance of flavors.
My friend Kim came over for dinner this week and I made us veggie fried rice. And potstickers (one of the few Chinese recipes I’ve managed to create, without fail, for years. Remember how I love a filled treat?) This makes enough for a solid 4 servings, so every time I make it I get leftovers for breakfast (with a fried egg on top - yum!) and meals for my little Henry as well.
Veggie Fried Rice
adapted from The Chinese Kitchen
makes 4 servings
- 1-1/2 cups long grain rice, rinsed thoroughly (until the water runs clear) and drained
- 1-1/2 cups water
- 2 cups quartered shiitake mushrooms (or crimini if you can’t find shiitakes)
- 2 carrots, diced
- 1 small onion, diced
- 2 cups sliced bok choy, stems and leaves separated
- 1.5 tsp minced fresh ginger (use a microplane, it’s the easiest)
- 1.5 tsp minced garlic (microplane, again)
- 2 large eggs
- 3-4 tbsp vegetable oil or peanut oil
- 2 tbsp chicken stock
- 1 tbsp oyster sauce
- 1.5 tsp soy sauce
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp brown sugar
- 1 tsp sesame oil
- fresh ground pepper
Combine your sauce ingredients and set aside. Bring your water to a boil in a medium saucepan and add the rice. Cover, reduce the heat to low and cook for 10-15 minutes, until the water is absorbed and the rice is cooked - but not mushy. You want an ever so slight bite to it. Remove from heat, uncover and set aside to cool slightly.
Be sure to prep all of your ingredients ahead of time and line them up on the counter. Stir frying foods is quick work, and you can easily burn it and ruin the whole dish if you aren’t ready to keep moving with the next step.
Add a tbsp of oil to a large skillet or a wok if you have one. Over high heat, sear your mushrooms until they are lightly caramelized. Remove them from the pan and set aside. Next add your carrots, (adding another tbsp of oil if you need it) until they are starting to soften, then add your onion. When your onion is just about soft, add the bok choy stems and cook for a minute or two. Then add the leaves, tossing everything around so that nothing burns, just for a minute to wilt the bok choy leaves. Make a little crater in the middle of the pan of veggies and add the ginger and garlic with a touch more oil, stirring to make sure it doesn’t burn, until the garlic is fragrant and softened. Add your mushrooms back in, then add your rice on top of everything, and drizzle your sauce on top. Stir everything around until it’s nice and coated and combined and the rice is starting to turn a nice brown. Finally, crack your eggs in the center, and stir everything around until the egg is cooked and evenly coating the rice. Remove from the heat, garnish with some chopped scallion and enjoy!