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Fried Rice Extra
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Fried Rice Extra - A corresponding article to You call this Fried Rice?!?
-from Mai-Tai Thai Silk Side Dish section inside La CoffeeMelodie Suite's Coffee Kitchen.
Fried Rice Extra is an article that shares tips and techniques -that is intentionally skipped in some
cooking recipes- on how to make excellent fried rice by making sense of the art of fried rice making!
Try it our and please come back to share with us how this works out for you!
Have yourself the most wonderful Chef-Me-Not day!
Fried Rice. Simple?
Yes, it can be.
It sounds easy enough. You fry the rice in the pan, add flavoring and other ingredients to dress it up, and you get your rice fried. There. This should be enough fried rice talk, right?
Well, not quite!
Of all the dishes I make, fried rice ends up being the meal for the day when I end up with not enough time to prepare other food, the "oops, I forgot to go food shopping" day, the "I am being frugal" day, or the "I feel so uninspired by the food-creative muse" day. Why is that?
To me - and maybe I speak for the rest of the Thais - fried rice is like tossing a hamburger on the skillet, making a plain sandwich where you slap a piece of meat and a slice of cheese between two pieces of bread, or putting tomato sauce and mozzarella on pizza dough. Whenever someone drops by at a time when I am so unprepared for company, and all I can do is to throw together simple fried rice, it always surprises me when applause is given to me for the effort. I often get requests for my fried rice "recipe," but for which one? The "I am frugal today" recipe, the "I forgot to go shopping" recipe, or the "I don't like you and I won't make you good food, therefore you only get fried rice from me" recipe?
So, this is how I think of fried rice. And really, nothing can go wrong - okay, almost nothing.
It is a such an Asian thing. Average fried rice is healthy, flavorful, and economical.
There won't be any specific fried rice recipe here, but I will share with you a few tips how to make killer fried rice without too much effort.
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If you like your fried rice not too mushy, not too dry and gentle on the palate, go for Jasmine rice. (But if you want to make great risotto, I would recommend against using Thai rice!) There is an easy way to cook it perfectly.
First, rinse the rice in cold water - only once. Rice milk is good for the body, and you don't want to lose all the goodies in the cleaning process.
Whether you cook it on top of the stove or in an automatic rice cooker, add enough water that measures up to one inch above the rice; or, from the tip of your pinky to the first knuckle break. (Weird, but it works.)
For rice cookers: Just plug in the cord and push the button to cook, and wait for it to "ding".
For stovetops: In a pot, add rice and water and set the heat to medium high and bring to boil - but do not cover. When it boils, turn down the heat to low, and then cover with the lid. Check after 5-7 minutes, or until the water evaporates and the rice looks soft and feels gentle when chewed.
After the rice has cooked, gently turn it with a spatula a few times just to break it up before you send the rice to the wok or frying pan.
Please do not use too much meat. Beef, chicken, pork, seafood - such as shrimp, calamari or crabmeat - chopped, ground, thinly sliced etc. Try to maintain the ratio of one part meat - one part veggies - two or three parts rice. Of the three major meats I prefer ground pork because it will be tender and moist, unlike chicken which is dry, and beef which tends to be overpowering.
Minced garlic - this is a must-have in my fried rice, for it enhances the aroma of jasmine scented rice. It will also tone down the meaty smell.
Onions are great for fried rice. They release just enough moisture to help the rice absorb the flavors from the sauce (like oyster sauce and nampla), therefore giving it a smooth taste. If you must, use celery (watery), carrot (dry), peas (dry) in moderate amounts. I don't recommend spinach and, if you use chopped broccoli, make sure your meat is beef and that you have added extra chopped onions. Chopped tomatoes can also be good when you want red-colored fried rice, but don't use too much or the rice will be mushy. Meanwhile, French beans, green beans and string beans - all finely chopped - are great in fried rice.
Chopped scallions and cilantro leaves are great garnishes. If you make spicy fried rice, basil leaves are wonderful additions, as well. Just make sure you add them only right after you turn off the heat on the stove.
Use any oil that you like. Please do not make fried rice with butter or margarine.
Thai - use a dash of oyster sauce, and nampla to give the rice a clean taste. Use Maggi sauce when you use ground beef and feel like playing with color (dark brown).
Chinese - add oyster sauce and thin soy sauce. Some people also use thick -or- sweet soy sauce, but that's not my thing. It adds a sweet taste to the rice and turns it black. I reserve this sauce for some noodle dishes only.
Japanese - Kikkoman sauce and Sushi rice vinegar will add the refreshing taste of summer to fried rice. These work well with most meats.
These do not work well cross-traditioned, and I don't mix them up.
A packet of sweetener, such as stevia, can be added to any of the three if you want it a bit sweeter.
Adding Dramatic Effects
When my mother makes fried rice, she often presents it in three colors, and she became famous for this special dish - 'Three-color fried rice' aka 'Kaopahdsamsee'. The colors are:
Yellow fried rice. - Yellow comes from Indian yellow curry and cumin. This dish can be spicy. I've seen my mother add raisin while the meat - ground pork or ground chicken - is being cooked. Sweet taste can bring down the heat from spices.
Red fried rice. - Red color come from a little bit of fresh tomatoes, but mostly tomato sauce. All in moderation, of course, or it will get mushy. The flavor of this dish is more on the sour than sweet side. Chicken and ham go well with this kind of fried rice.
White, or brown fried rice. - This one is just clean-tasting, Thai fried rice. To make it brown, add Maggi sauce on top of nampla. Srimp, crabmeat, calamari or mussels are the usual choice, here. Extra scallions and cilantro helps cut down the salt water smell.
Lime juice is usually an add-on for white fried rice. A better choice would be green chili pepper seafood sauce - which will be added to the recipe page next time.
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