Fried Rice by Mdxi
It's been one of my favorite foods for a very, very long time. It's also the first dish to totally defeat me after I started to actually learn a bit about cooking and get better at food, and that kept me from trying it again for way too long. But today I have conquered my demons, and I'm here to teach you what everyone in Asia already knows: fried rice ain't hard.
Today, Gentlemen, we make beautiful, simple food.
Job one is to get your veggies prepped. Here we have broccoli stalks (don't waste those; they're great in stir-fry!), broccoli florets, green onions, cabbage, and carrots. And a knife. And my German Vegetable Raper. God, I love that thing.
That's 3 carrots (2 large-ish, 1 small-ish), 1 entire stalk of broccoli, about 1/3 of a small head of green cabbage, and the good parts of one bunch of green onions.
Of course, rice is very important to fried rice. Conventional wisdom and ethnic correctness says you have to use day-old rice. It's true that this is a good thing, as the rice being cold and somewhat dehydrated keeps you from ending up with a congee, but there is another way (which I learned here in GWS!) that doesn't require any extra time or thinking ahead. Start like this: with a completely dry saucepan.
Add the rice. This is 1 1/2C. (P.S. I don't know how much of the veggies there are. This isn't really about a recipe; it's about a technique.)
Then add just enough oil to coat the grains and slick the bottom of the pan. See how the grains on bottom aren't swimming in oil, but the bottom of the pan is coated? Not a single grain will stick when we start parching the rice.
Also note the translucence of the raw grains. We're going to cook them until they're not like that anymore. I learned this trick from a thread about carne asada, posted here some years ago.
Now turn up the heat and stir, stir, stir; gently but energetically. This is your goal: opaque, bright white grains which are just on the edge of toasting. The rice should be sizzling, and should become fragrant.
What we're doing here is sealing and partially cooking the grains. They'll finish cooking quickly when boiled, and end up separate and firm enough to withstand the second stir-frying.
Now turn the heat up even higher and add the water (2:1::water:rice). Stir the rice, freeing the grains which will be starting to stick to the bottom. Stir occasionally until the rice comes to a full, rolling boil. Stir once more and reduce to a very low boil -- just above a simmer. Do not cover!
Now it's time to prep the meat. Needed: pork loin (sub as appropriate, dur), soy sauce, red pepper flakes, and honey.
In my quest for fuckin' good fried rice, I tried many elaborate marinades, searching for a way to prepare the meat which would stand up to the flavor of the whole. I even did a proper chinese barbeque once. I have settled on this method, which takes only a few moments and results in delicious meat candy.
Slice off some of the loin. Then cut the slices into strips.
Drizzle honey over the strips -- tossing as you go -- adding enough to thoroughly coat the meat. Each strip should be goopy.
Then add just enough soy sauce to cut the stickiness and wet things back up again. Going by smell helps -- when the notes of soy and honey are about even in your nose, that's good. If in doubt, err on the side of "slghtly too much soy".
Oh, is the rice done now? It should have little steam holes in it (I forgot to picture this). The grains on top should be al dente. There should be very little water left at the bottom of the pan.
Toss the rice to distribute what water does remain, cover, and remove from heat.
Measure out 1T sugar, 1t ginger, and 6T soy sauce. You will likely want to revise these values up slightly, but this is a good starting amount. Cooking is an iterative process. Meditate upon this as the ginger wafts into your nose.
Scramble some eggs. Scrambling eggs is beyond the scope of this document.
I used 6 eggs.
Time to make the meat candy. Dump the prepped pork strips into a frying pan, and shake a good amount of red pepper flakes over the top. Add just a touch of oil, and turn up the heat medium-high.
As water is liberated from the meat and honey, it will look thoroughly unintersting and possibly unappetizing.
But as the liquid cooks away, you'll see something wonderous.
Turn the heat up. Stand firm, with nerves of steel, tossing judiciously as the honey-soy mixture goes from "wet" to "syrup" to "glaze" to "crispy".
Your goal: carmelized soy-honey-chili pork candy.
Prep is ended, and it's time to cook fried rice. We're only a handful of minutes from done.
Heat the wok, add oil, and toss in the carrots and broccoli stalk. Stirfry!
When they're starting to get tender, add the egg. Stir! Keep stirring!
Eggs all mixed in? Green onion time.
DO NOT STOP STIRRING! KEEP THE HEAT HIGH!
Toss, toss, toss. Add dabs of oil to keep everything tossing.
Onion wilty? Time to add the cabbage. Mmmm, cabbage.
Give the cabbage a couple quick tosses, and the broccoli florets -- they're the most delicate.
Alright, getting really close. Add a good dab of oil, then scoop in about half the rice.
Stir, stir, stir, coating the rice. Don't leave clumps. Add dashes of oil as needed. Add some more rice and stir, until all rice is in.
Okay, that's everything except the meat and the soy sauce/sugar/ginger mixture.
Dump in the soy sauce and sugar/ginger, and stir some more. Let the flavors blend and the food sizzle for a handful of seconds. Toss everything thoroughly.
Add the meat candy.
Toss well one last time.
It is done.