Sunday, January 22, 2006
The Best Fried Rice
The Chinese Cookbook Copyright 1972
5 cups cold cooked rice (cooked at least one day in advance)
1 cup small raw shrimps, shelled, deveined, and split in half lengthwise I used large shrimp
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
5 tablespoons peanut, vegetable or corn oil
2/3 cup cubed Chinese sausages or cooked ham I used ham
½ cup cooked fresh or frozen peas
1 tablespoon salt, approximately
2 tablespoons oyster sauce
1 cup fresh bean sprouts (you can pluck the heads and tails off or not, I did)
½ cup chopped scallions, green part included
1. Flake the rice so that the grains do not stick together. Set aside.
2. Combine the shrimps with the soda and salt and let stand 15 minutes or longer. Rinse thoroughly in cold water and pat dry on paper toweling. (Does anyone know what this step does?)
3. Heat the oil in a wok or skillet until it is almost smoking and add the shrimps. Cook, stirring quickly, and turning them in the oil until they turn pink, about 30 seconds. Remove them to a sieve fitted over a mixing bowl and let them drain well. Return the oil from the drained shrimps to the pan.
4. Add the sausages or ham to the pan and cook just to heat through, stirring. Add the rice, stirring rapidly, and cook until thoroughly heated without browning.
5. So the following quickly: Make a well in the center of the rice and add the eggs, stirring constantly. When the have a soft-scrambled consistency, start incorporating the rice, stirring in a circular fashion. (I messed this up and wish I had cooked the eggs separately and added them back in like I usually do.)
6. When all the rice and eggs are blended, add the peas and the tablespoon of salt, stirring. Stir in the oyster sauce and the cooked shrimps, tossing the rice over and over to blend everything. Stir in the bean sprouts and cook, stirring and tossing, about 30 seconds. Add the scallions and serve immediately.
Yield: 8 to 12 servings.
When I got my first apartment, the first one that was mine, all mine, the very first night I ran home to make shrimp fried rice. They served a great version of it in the cafeteria at the hospital where I worked and I was trying to duplicate it (seriously this cafeteria had great food). I felt so free to finally have my own kitchen to experiment in. Not that I didn't cook when I had roommates, but there was something about being able to cook alone that was very appealing to me. I still prefer to cook after the rest of the house goes to sleep.
My attempt to duplicate the cafeteria version of shrimp fried rice was a failure but since then I have made passable fried rice. At least I thought so until I tasted this recipe. Even though I mucked this up when I added the eggs, ending up with a creamy finished product, this was still the tastiest fried rice I've ever made. I would probably leave the sprouts out next time since I just don't care all that much for them but that would be the only change I would make (besides cooking the eggs separately). I've always added soy sauce but oyster sauce seems to be the proper ingredient for good fried rice. I'm probably the last person to know this but at least I know now.
This is my third Craig Claiborne cookbook (I've also cooked from The New York Times Cookbook and Cooking With Herbs and Spices). Not that I'm a huge fan of his, it's just that he showed up alot in the return bin at the book warehouse where I worked during the summer in college. I haven't had a loser recipe from him yet. He had a co-author for this book - Virginia Lee. These recipes claim to be authentic but since I've only eaten your typical American-style Chinese food, I can't vouch for that. For the most part, these recipes do seem very 'doable', probably more so than in 1972 when this was written. I doubt Asian ingredients were as widely available at that time.