Wednesday, October 29, 2008
Wey's bacon fried rice. The rice here is too broken up and soft because it was leftover rice from a restaurant.
I've been requested to post some simple recipes that don't need much preparation or ingredients. Now that most kids are done with their exams and are nearly into their year-end holiday (the longest school holiday period in Malaysia begins in mid-November to early January), here's a recipe for a bowl of fried rice you kids can cook for your tired long-suffering mother. Or, in Wey's case, for himself whenever he's hungry. His sister brought home 2 kgs of beautiful Australian bacon (we get Danish bacon here, but I don't like them because they are very salty, cut too thin, and are frozen--in contrast to the thick-cut, lightly salted, very fresh and very long strips of Australian middle bacon) and I ration the amount of this preserved meat (all that nitrite) Wey eats so he has found that the best way to eat one rasher of bacon is to cut it up and fry it with rice. And I can tell you bacon fried rice is truly one of the yummiest and satisfying things to eat.
For good fried rice, you must start with cooked, overnight (chilled) rice. Freshly cooked rice will be too wet and will result in clumpy, starchy fried rice. Years ago, my friend Meng gave me a great tip (from her chef friend) on getting overnight rice separated into individual grains: put the hard, overnight rice into a colander and quickly run some water over while using your hands to crush or break up the grains--they will separate easily. Let rice drain well. This is how those restaurants are able to fry huge amounts of rice, say for wedding banquets, perfectly without any tasteless clumps. However, this must be done at least 1 hour or more before you intend to fry the rice because after running the water through the rice, it gets soaked. If you are in a hurry and are only going to fry a small amount of rice, you can skip this step but break the rice up first with your wet hands as much as possible. Because you need high heat to fry a good plate of rice, you don't want to struggle with breaking up your rice during the frying time or some of the rice will burn.
My Shanghainese MIL likes to fry the eggs first, cutting the fried omelette up with her frying ladle after the egg has set, remove them to a plate and then fry the rice. This way, you get to see and bite the egg bits. I grew up eating Cantonese fried rice, and I (and The Sniffer) think it's the best (I get to have the last say since MIL doesn't read this blog). For Cantonese fried rice, the egg is added to the rice as you fry, so that you don't get obvious pieces of egg but instead each grain of rice is coated (and flavored) with egg. Sometimes I combine both methods.
To add soy sauce or not is really a matter of your taste and what you are used to. Fried rice served in restaurants are spiked with msg, which gives the rice a savory sweet taste. You can omit the msg, but your fried rice will never taste like the restaurants'. To give home fried rice some extra taste, it isn't against the rules to add a dash of soy sauce, especially Maggi soy sauce which is tasty and flavorful. I suspect it has msg too.
Lastly, you must have strong heat/fire (you still have to adjust the heat depending on its level) when frying rice. If you can't turn the heat up too high, I suggest you fry in small batches so that the heat is kept to the max.
Bacon Fried Rice
1 rasher middle bacon (a whole streaky and lean strip), cut into small 1.5 cm squares
2 cups cooked overnight rice (treated as stated above)
1 t finely chopped garlic (optional but yum)
1/8 t (or to taste) salt
a few shakes of white pepper
a dash of Maggi soy sauce (optional but yum)
some finely sliced spring onions
1 T oil
1. Heat up a wok or frying pan, add the oil and the garlic if using. Stir for a couple of seconds (heat on high), lower the heat and add the bacon. If you like your bacon more fried, add it before the garlic.
2. When bacon fat is transparent, add the rice. Stir and turn the rice quickly, sprinkle the salt. and pepper and the soy sauce.
3. Keep frying to mix everything up, braking up any clumps. Now crack the egg into the rice (or you can whip it up with a fork first; I don't bother), and use your ladle to break up the yolk, shoving and mixing the egg into the rice to coat. Continue frying (you can lower the heat to medium now) until the egg dries up, throw in the spring onions, mix well, and dish into a bowl.
p.s. Fried rice in Mandarin is chow fun ("fun" as in having fun, but in rising intonation), but that in Cantonese means fried noodles although the fun is pronounced "fen" with a falling intonation. Generally chow fan is the more accepted term for fried rice, and that's in Cantonese, but the fan is not pronounced as in "ceiling fan" but "fun" with a falling intonation. Are you as confused as me?