My Mom’s Cantonese Fried Rice
Although I love Chinese food, I must say that there is a fair amount of chopping, dicing and slicing that goes on. Since we don’t use knives at the dinner table, I guess this is just a practical thing. Chicken is chopped into bite sized pieces; so are crab, pork and duck. If you have ever been to a Chinatown and purchased roast duck or BBQ roast pork, you will see the meat is cut up for you before you take it home.
How does one eat rice with chopsticks? It is easier than you think. With sticky rice, usually used for dessert and for special dishes like sticky rice in lotus leaves, the rice is so moist that you can pick up tiny “portions” with ease. With medium to long grain rice it’s a bit harder to pick up but there is a simple solution. You pick up your rice bowl and gently shovel the rice into your mouth with your chopsticks, all without making too much noise.
I did a quick search for Cantonese fried rice on the internet and found a lot of variety. Traditionally fried rice is a peasants dish made from old leftovers. This is the way my mom always made it and as her little helper, I make it but always give her credit. Mom I miss the “real” thing made by you!
Cantonese Fried Rice
4 C. day old rice, fresh rice is too moist and tends to stick a bit more (I usually use 1 C. of cooked rice per person)
1 sm. diced onion
½ to 2/3 C. of diced carrots and thawed peas or fresh peas lightly blanched (dice the carrots so they are approximately the same size as the peas)
1-2 cloves of garlic minced
2-3 eggs, beaten
1-1 ½ C. meat/shrimp/tofu (this can be diced BBQ pork, Chinese sausage, diced ham, diced pork, beef, small to medium cooked shrimp or tofu)
chili oil or chili flakes (optional)
chopped green onions
S + P
canola or sunflower/safflower oil
1. Take cooked rice and break apart if there are clumps, set aside.
2. Heat wok, or large skillet (you may have to do this in batches if you do not have a wok). Add oil until wok surface is coated well, swirl wok to achieve this. Add onions, sauté until translucent, then add carrots, peas, garlic and chili flakes. Sauté until just about done, then remove and set aside.
3. Add more oil to the wok and swirl, when it is hot enough (you will see tiny wisps of smoke), add the rice. Sauté constantly until dry and separated (up to 5 mins). With freshly made rice this may take a while (up to 10 mins), do not stop stirring as rice will burn. (It is okay to brown the rice a bit but this is not the time to take a phone call. My arm used to get a bit sore doing this as a kid.)
4. When the rice is ready, make a well in the middle of the rice, add a few drops of oil, then the eggs. Stir the eggs in the well to cook, when almost done, combine with the rice. Continue stirring until all the rice is coated with egg. Add salt and pepper, the veggies and the cooked meats.
5. After all the ingredients have been combined, add the green onion and cilantro. Taste for salt, add more salt or soy sauce, add sesame oil, chili oil and serve.
For a Vietnamese twist: ladle the fried rice into iceberg lettuce cups, drizzle with nuoc nam, and serve.
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