I am not a person with many vices. Indeed, I am not disposed to indulging to excess many of life's pleasures, except one thing: a good Chinese take away meal, and in particular the many variations of the staple dish of the Chinese curry house; Stir Fried or Special Fried Rice.
In the days before I was blessed with children and a healthy mortgage, I would spend many a Friday evening down at the local take-out eager to feast on this stalwart of Chinese take away food.
Over the years I was keen to add this recipe to my humble repertoire so I invested a good deal of time and money in an attempt to recreate this popular dish. From the outset, I clearly had no clue on how best to achieve this objective as my first attempts often resulted in different types of gooey muck or crispy burnt offerings.
From Stir-Crazy to Stir-Fry
However, my dogged perseverance seems to have paid off as I am now able to present a variety of styles of fried rice to friends and family that are of a high enough caliber to consider myself credible enough to share my methods.
My services in the special fried rice department were even called upon for my cousin's wedding a few of years ago when they asked me to make a couple of huge bowlfuls for the evening buffet.
One does not wish to blow one's own Chinese trumpet, but it was a talking point for all the right reasons.
Anyway, enough of the waffle, this is how I prepare a basic version of egg fried rice.
Equipment and Ingredients
My current hardware list:
Wok or large frying pan
Plastic or wooden serving spoon
Large kitchen knife and chopping board
A cup and a half of white Rice - I use Jasmine Rice as it ends up light and fluffy when cooked properly in the rice cooker and I like the fragrance wafting around the kitchen
A handful of diced bacon
1 medium sized onion - chopped
A glove of chopped garlic
1 tbls of milk
A small tin of sweetcorn
1) Wash the rice.
I pour the rice into a sieve, run it under the cold tap for 10 to 15 seconds and give it a little swirl and a shake at the same time. This is to get rid of any excess starch so that the rice is nice and fluffy when cooked.
2) Cook the rice
Add the rice to the rice cooker and pour in enough cold water to just cover the rice. Set the cooker to 'cook' and let the cooker sit on warm when the cycle has completed.
While the rice is on the go you need to prepare the other ingredients.
3) Cook a batch of scrambled eggs
I usually add a small drop of milk to the mix, but you can omit this if required. Mix the eggs well with a fork in a measuring jug and pour into a hot frying pan or wok with a drop or two of olive oil.
Let the mixture stiffen a little before folding it over and breaking it up with the wooden spoon. Remove the cooked egg from the pan and set aside in a small bowl.
4) Cook the rest of the extras
Keep the wok or pan nice and hot and add a drop more olive oil, then add the bacon and cook until it starts to turn crispy.
Next, add the onions, garlic and sweetcorn. Keep cooking until the onion starts to turn soft then remove the contents and set them aside with the egg.
5) Time to stir-fry the cooked rice.
Add a drop more olive oil and couple of teaspoons of soy sauce to the wok or frying pan and add the rice when the soy starts to fizzle. The rice should be moist, but not too dry and certainly not clumpy and soggy.
You will need to mix the rice into the soy sauce and olive oil with the wooden spoon so that it fries up evenly. When the rice starts to pop and jump it's time to add back the eggs, onions, garlic, bacon and sweetcorn and continue stirring for another couple of minutes.
I always cook the ingredients in a specific order so that everything gets cooked properly. On no account should you try to scramble the egg and fry the rice at the same time. What you will end up with is a batch of egg covered clumpy goo that will be more suited to patching up the driveway than feeding the family.
To make this dish more manageable you will really need a rice cooker. Like I said before, it took me a little while to get this recipe under control, but that was before I owned one of these beauties. It makes all the difference and allows me to "set and forget" the rice part.
Once you get this down pat you will find that stir-fried rice is a great side dish that can be whipped up in no time and goes down a treat at family mealtimes and social gatherings.