One of the delights of life is eating with friends; second to that is talking about eating. And, for an unsurpassed double whammy, there is talking about eating while you are eating with friends.
Laurie Colwin

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Susanna Foo's Fried Rice

Adapted from Chinese Cuisine by Susanna Foo

Serves 4 as a main course or 8 as a side dish

I wrote a post around the time of the 2008 Lunar New Year about my favorite Chinese cookbooks and talked a little bit about this book, which is wonderful. The good news is it's back in print. If you have any interest at all in Chinese food, you will love reading Ms. Foo's story, and you may find that the food in this book is different from the Chinese food you're used to. It's very light and often easy to make. Her favorite recipe for fried rice is a revelation.

Ms. Foo suggests using medium- or short-grain rice rather than long grain rice for this dish. I agree it's better; however, if all you have in the house is long-grain rice, don't avoid making it. It will still be good - and in the long run you might like it better.

I've never tried it with brown rice so I can't swear it will be good using it in place of white rice, but there's no reason not to give it a go to see how you like it if brown rice is your thing. There's also wonderful, fragrant basmati rice, and delicious jasmine rice, both of which might be delicious too. There are a lot of possibilities. I would just suggest making it with white rice the first time so you can do a comparison.

Ms. Foo calls for using a rice cooker, which I don't have. So make rice the way you normally do, and proceed from there. I usually have luck cooking one cup rice to 1-1/2 cups of lightly salted water. I start out by putting everything together in a saucepan, and usually use my All-Clad stainless steel 2-quart because the narrow shape is great for cooking rice. I bring it to a boil, stirring once with a chopstick, put a lid on it, immediately turn the heat to very low, and cook it for about 17 minutes. I peek at it then, and if it's done, I remove the pan from the heat, and leave it still covered for about 10 minutes, which seems to fluff it out. Medium- or short-grain rice is more sticky than long grain and doesn't exactly "fluff."

2 cups raw rice cooked the way you normally cook it. If you're interested in what I do, see above.
5 tablespoons oil - you can use a neutral oil or olive oil (see what I mean about how different it is from what you expect with Chinese food)
4 large eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 cup diced sweet onion
1 cup diced Canadian bacon*
1/2 cup cooked peas
1/2 cup corn kernels (I only add corn when I have fresh corn available)
4 scallions, sliced thin on the diagonal
1 cup halved grape tomatoes
Up to 2 teaspoons Maldon Salt
Freshly ground pepper (does anybody ever use pepper that isn't freshly ground?)
Chiffonade of fresh basil (the recipe calls for 1/2 cup, which is a lot of basil, so use your best judgment about how much you want to add) "To chiffonade basil...or any other leaves, stack them, roll them into a tight bundle and slice them crosswise into very fine ribbons." Michael Ruhlman, The Elements of Cooking, Page 87. Get this book immediately if you haven't gotten it already.

*For the Canadian bacon you can substitute anything you feel like - chicken, shrimp, ham, etc. I am partial to Jone's Little Link Pork Sausage, of course cooked first then cut into small pieces.

Heat 4 tablespoons of the oil in a large skillet until hot. Add the eggs, reduce the heat to medium, and cook until set lightly. Stir the eggs to break them into small pieces, and cook the pieces until lightly browned. Remove the eggs from the pan, and set aside.

Heat 1 tablespoon oil in the same pan. Cook the onion over high heat until golden, then add the bacon, peas, corn if you're using it, and scallions. Cook for about 3 minutes until heated through.

Add the tomato, sprinkle with the Maldon Salt, crushing it between your fingers, and stir in the cooked rice and egg. Break up any lumps in the pan, mix, and cook for about 2 more minutes until everything in the pan is heated. Turn off the heat. Season with pepper, and stir in the basil.

Print recipe

4 comments:

  1. sounds like a nice fried rice recipe. when you begin cooking, you neglect to mention that the eggs are the first thing to go into the oil :-) at least I think that's right...

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  2. Thanks. I made the correction. If you try it, I hope you like it!

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  3. I looooove fried rice. It was actually one of the first things I learned to cook in Home Ec in middle school! I will definitely try this one.

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  4. Of course, now I've got another cookbook to add to my wishlist. Sounds amazing!

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