I am useless at cooking Chinese Food – somehow it never tastes as good as it does from a Chinese restaurant, and that never tastes as good as it does in China. Which I don’t get to much anymore. I used to love eating out in Hong Kong on my own. When I went on my 3 month trip to Asia, I spent a week wandering around checking out markets and eating street food.
When I did make it into a restaurant – the whole place would fall silent as I was escorted to my table for one. Then the patrons would watch intently as the waiter tried to figure out what I wanted. Occasionally interjecting suggestions of their own. The concierge at my hotel had written a little introduction, which I would hand to the waiter: “Seafood, chicken breast, bbq pork and vegetables in any combination please. No weird stuff.” It worked until I went into a dim sum parlour where, apparently, all they had was weird stuff. I was escorted from the premises and pointed at a KFC.
As hard as I try … warming the wok first and having the right condiments etc – all my efforts end up tasting the same. I have no idea why this is and so, when I get a chance to watch other people cook Chinese, I grab it with both hands. So, I was thrilled the other day when Masterchef Australia set the contestants the seemingly simple task of cooking Egg Fried Rice.
Kylie Kwong is guesting as a mentor and had a couple of tips for the cooks: “The secret to good fried rice is cooking the eggs first. You scramble the eggs and take them out of the wok. Then you stir-fry onion, protein, ginger and all of the aromatics, put in the rice and soy, then lastly the eggs, so you have fluffy eggs throughout the dish.” Instructions a few of them ignored at their peril, ending up with gloop that resembled my past efforts. However; the contestants that did stick with her advice, served up tasty looking dishes.
If they can do it, I thought, so can I.
I had read somewhere else that rice for stir-fry should be a day old, that way it doesn’t break up when you re-cook it. I figured that would apply here too. I had a few bags with sprinkles of rice of varying natures inside, mainly Thai and Jasmine, still sitting in the pantry after my clean up, which I decided to combine and use up. The packs said their cooking time was the same, so I combined them and boiled them early in the morning. They cooked well together and I let them stand in the fridge to get firm.
I based my dish on Kylie’s recipe for Delicious Fried Rice. We had chicken breast, the tail end of some baby broccoli and a handful of fresh peas lurking in the fridge so I chucked them in too. Add whatever you have – but make sure to cut them all into similar sizes.
Delicious Fried Rice.
2 tablespoon peanut oil (I used sunflower)
2 eggs, lightly beaten
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
4 thick-cut slices of bacon, sliced crosswise into 1/2-inch pieces
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
1 medium onion, finely chopped
handful 125g baby broccoli (stems cut from florets and blanched very briefly)
2 small chicken breasts
handful/80g of peas (blanched briefly if fresh/defrosted if frozen)
1 tablespoon dry sherry ( I didn’t have so I used Vermouth with a dash of honey)
1/2 teaspoon sugar
3 cups/400g cooked white rice, chilled or at room temperature
2 tablespoons oyster sauce
1 1/2 tablespoons soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon Asian sesame oil
3 scallions, thinly sliced
Now – before we get started – the devil is in the detail here… so get your mise en place all done before you start. Have it standing next to the wok – chopped, diced, crushed, poured etc. This is the one tip that ALL Chinese chefs give.
1. In a large wok, heat 1 tablespoons of the peanut oil until very hot.
2. Season the eggs with salt and pepper and pour into the wok.
3. Scramble the eggs over high heat until just cooked through, about 1 minute. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate.
4. Add the bacon to the wok and cook, stirring occasionally, until crisp, about 4 minutes.
5. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the bacon to the plate with the eggs.
6. Drain off the bacon grease and wipe out the wok.
7. Heat the remaining 1 tablespoon of peanut oil in the wok.
8. Add the garlic and ginger and cook over high heat for 1 minute.
9. Add the onion and cook until golden, about 3 minutes.
10. Stir in the sherry and sugar and cook until the sherry is reduced by half, about 30 seconds.
11. Add the rice, oyster sauce, soy sauce, sesame oil, reserved eggs, bacon and all but 2 tablespoons of the scallions.
12. Season with salt and stir-fry until the rice is hot, about 2 minutes.
13. Transfer to a serving bowl, sprinkle with the remaining scallions and serve.
It was delicious. I made enough for four – we ate it all. Too bad, because egg fried rice is just as good for breakfast.