Fried Rice (Chinese Chao Fan (炒饭), Thai Kao Pad (ข้าวผัด), and Malay Nasi Goreng) is a popular All-Day food item in Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia. Although I am not a big fan of fried rice, I’ll gladly whip up this delicious chow for our house party or potluck (hint: invite me to yours). It is also my go-to fail-safe recipe to feed my family whenever I have a tight schedule as most of the food can be prepared the day before.
- 3 cups cooked rice (1½ cup raw prepared in electric rice cooker and let cool completely).
- 500g Prawns*, shelled and deveined (or amount to your liking).
- 2 Eggs, beaten.
- ⅓ – ½ cup frozen vegetables (i.e. carrots, corn and peas, mini broccoli florets or crunchy kale stems diced).
- 1 – 2 tablespoons Oil (Lard, Peanut, Vegetable or even Shallot Oil).
- ½ – 1 teaspoon Sea Salt (lesser if using refine table salt, or according to taste).
- Thai Fish Sauce, optional.
- 1 teaspoon Chicken Stock Powder (or granulated), optional.
- A few dashes of White Pepper Powder.
- 1 tablespoon Hua Tiao Chiew* (Shaoxing Wine).
- 2 teaspoons Sesame Oil.
- Extra Ingredients (choose those you like)
- 150g Char Siew (pork or chicken), diced.
- 3 large caps of Dried Shitake Mushrooms*, diced.
- 1 pc Larp Cheong (Chinese Waxed Sausage), diced.
- 1 Fish Cake, diced.
- Optional Garnish:
- Fried Crispy Shallots.
- Fried Crispy Ginger Julienne.
- Chopped Scallions / Cilantro.
- Red Cut Chillies / Sambal Belacan.
- Fried Egg (Sunny-side) / Omelette Ribbons.
The press-push-pull effect of the spatula on the heated rice in wok will disperse any clumps therefore the fried rice will become light and fluffy. Turn up the heat on high only when everything is about to be done, the purpose is to get a good wok hei; before that you should cook on medium heat for better control.
Heat wok over medium low flame, add and swirl oil around wok so that its whole surface is fully greased. Use more oil if necessary. Since my wok has nice patina, I only needed 1 tablespoon of peanut oil.
Add in the cooled rice and press gently to break up any clumps, pushing and pulling with the spatula as you go along. Once the rice is loosen up, drizzle in the beaten eggs over and around the rice. The heat should be medium low as I do not want to see any visible chunks of eggs; I only want the rice grains to be distinctly coated for a golden hue.
If you want chunky eggs in your fried rice, then scramble the eggs first before adding rice in the wok. You may also need to use more oil for cooking the eggs. Also, if you like to add minced garlic to your fried rice, add 2 cloves in the beginning when oil is warm (not too hot as minced garlic burnt easily).
Once all the rice is uniformly laminated, turn up the heat to medium high and throw in the prawns (mine were raw, not the cooked frozen ones) and cook till they turn pink before adding in the frozen vegetables, char siew and fish cakes.
Season with salt, chicken stock powder (if using), and white pepper powder. Add a few tablespoons of the reserved mushroom water (I used about 3 tablespoons, adjust according to your need) to the rice. I did not use any light or dark soy as I want to keep my fried rice looking resplendent but in the end I squirted a quick short burst of Thai fish sauce (straight from the bottle) for more flavour. Taste to make sure the food is properly heated through and adjust seasonings if necessary.
Once you are satisfied with the seasoning, turn up the flame to high heat and drizzle the Hua Tiao (wine) around the sides of the hot wok. Stir-fry briskly over very high heat until you achieve wok hei; you can smell the aromatic smokiness and see some char on the bits of ingredients and rice. Turn off the heat. Sprinkle the chopped scallions and sesame oil onto the rice and give it a few quick stir before dishing out. Serve immediately garnished with your choice of what I have suggested in this recipe.
You say shrimps, I say prawns but Shrimp Fried Rice sounds better than Prawn Fried Rice. Anyway, I got 10 very large prawns and after peeling off the big heads and shells, the weight was down considerably to about 300g. I’d coarsely diced some and kept a few whole. You may buy smaller (fresh/frozen) prawns and use them whole.
Reconstitute washed dried mushrooms by soaking them in boiling hot water. After the mushrooms are soften, squeeze off excess water and diced.
The soaking liquid is then strained and set aside for use during cooking.
Wine is always drizzled around the sides of the hot wok so alcohol evaporates before reaching the food. Push (and scrape) rice up onto the “tainted” sides of wok as you fry.
My rice was not leftovers. I had cooked it on the same day, uncovered the rice cooker and directed a fan at it to hasten the cooling off and drying out process. Understand that after the rice is cooked, two things happen:
- Evaporation – The rice gets drier.
- Starch retrogradation – a process in which disaggregated amylose and amylopectin chains in a gelatinized starch paste re-associate to form more ordered structures.
In layman’s term, starch retrogradation implies gelatinised starches that have bloated and softened during cooking will recrystallise as they cool – hence, the rice becomes firm and not so sticky making it ideal for stir-frying. So, while it may be desirable for some starchy food products in terms of textural and nutritional properties, stale rice is not a requisite here. In short, all we need is “dry” rice to make a good fried rice!
Happy cooking, eating and bonding!