If there is one dish that has so seamlessly been integrated into the global culinary scene, it is Chinese Fried Rice. You find it in India – from small stands serving hot, spicy, and ‘not so great for the stomach but too delicious to resist’ Indo-Chinese food; to a posh Michelin Star Restaurant. And the same goes for the entire world. In Dubai, we don’t have many street food stands as such – but fried rice we do have – in food courts, in pseudo Chinese restaurants that serve up average Indo Chinese food, and even in top Asian restaurants across the country.
Fried rice is quite simple to make once you get the technique right. So quintessential to Chinese food, it is usually made using leftover plain rice along with a variety of condiments and ingredients – both vegetarian and non-vegetarian. The idea behind using leftover rice is that it is drier, has less moisture; hence, it fries faster and doesn’t tend to steam. However, you may go ahead with steaming rice fresh and then laying it on a flat plate to allow the steam to escape faster.
Fried rice is usually made in a wok – it allows heat to intermittently touch all the ingredients, given its shape. However, if you don’t own a wok, it is just as easy to make fried rice in a regular vessel. – the shallower, the better. I like to use soy sauce and vinegar as my condiments, garlic as an aromatic, dried red chilli, egg, and vegetables like green beans, carrots, mushrooms in my regular fried rice. You may also add boiled/roasted chicken, seafood like shrimp and even beef/pork.
The technique behind fried rice is simple. Ensure that the vegetable/meat is cooked. In the wok, add some oil and put in the aromatics. It is at this stage that I like to add my beaten egg (ensure it is seasoned). I scramble the egg and move on with the rice. I add a layer of rice, add a dash of white wine vinegar and soy sauce, veggies/meat and stir it – all on a medium-high flame. You do not want the rice to steam. Add another layer of rice and repeat the process – seasoning, adding the cooked ingredients as you go and stirring – till it is all done. Add salt and a little pepper to taste and serve hot!
Now the technique behind this garlic fried rice that I made yesterday is similar. Except that I haven’t used eggs or vegetables or even meat.