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I have wondered about sharing things on this site which don’t fit exclusively into the category of steam oven recipes, but as I constantly tell my three-year-old (to little avail, it seems), I’m the boss around here. So being that the boss gets to make the decisions, or at least feel as though she’s remotely in charge (really, a three-year-old makes that a fairly unlikely proposition - I think mine is far more in charge than I will ever be), I’ve got a little departure from the norm today. It comes in the form of one of our absolute favourite family meals – Kylie Kwong’s fried rice.
It’s not a total fail on the steam oven recipe front as I do cook the main ingredient in my steam oven, but I think it’s safe to say this is one of those dishes you can very adequately make with rice you’ve cooked in any fashion. I was making it long before I knew what a steam oven was and we had no problems with it at all, although I will say my rice grains are fluffier and more separate these days thanks to my favourite appliance. Also, I always make enough so we have leftovers and reheating it in the steam oven means the texture and taste are almost exactly as if I’d just spooned it fresh out of the wok. We could all do with more recipes which reheat perfectly the next day, I think.
I first saw this recipe demonstrated on a television programme hosted by Kylie maybe 13 or 14 years ago, called Heart and Soul (it was all about her favourite Chinese dishes, inspired by her family and heritage, and it was lovely). It’s one of those dishes which I think most of use assume is pretty easy to make, but I discovered on watching that I’d been doing it all wrong and have forever since made this my go-to version. There was an accompanying book to the tv series, I owned a copy for a while but it unfortunately met a sad water-damaged end in an incident involving a very naughty cat and I never got around to replacing it.
What was wrong with my earlier fried rice attempts? Well, nothing exactly, but I had always treated it as a bit of a ‘trash dinner’ – you know, the meals in which you open the fridge and put in whatever you need to use up before it needs to go in the bin. So this was a bit of a revelation: no broccoli, carrot or slightly soft peppers, no corn, no canned shrimp and definitely not a hard overcooked pea in sight. Instead, on making this version of fried rice you’ll be greeted with bright, clean, gingery and garlicky rice adorned with bacon, spring onions and soft curds of scrambled egg. If you grew up eating suburban Chinese-Australian restaurant versions of fried rice (or even if you didn’t) I think you’ll be very happily surprised at the difference.
In the years I’ve been making this dish there have been a few modifications and I’ve arrived at something which suits us perfectly. It’s a little simpler and lighter than the original and I now incorporate a decent proportion of vegetables in the form of Chinese cabbage (wombok) – although I didn’t want to muddy the flavours with lots of different things, it did need some vegetable matter! Chinese cabbage is perfect because it’s crunchy but not too dense, and very mild in flavour). I’ve also done away with the almost-deep-fried scrambled eggs as I’ve discovered a smaller amount of oil and a screaming hot wok will give a similar result without the greasiness. And I put extra eggs in these days, too, to balance the protein/carb ratio a bit more in favour of protein. It’s still a pretty carb-y dish but it’s more balanced than before which allows me to serve it, relatively guilt free, as a stand-alone main meal with a big pile of steamed greens on the side. I know the intention of fried rice is as a side dish, but when it’s this good I don’t think there’s anything wrong with making it the star of the show.
If you have always thought fried rice was too hard to make at home, or just not nice, give this one a try. I think it will change your mind for the better, and give you a way to use up all your leftover rice forevermore.
Happy steam oven (and non-steam-oven!) cooking, see you here again soon.
Egg Fried Rice
Adapted from Heart and Soul by Kylie Kwong.
Serves 4-6 as main meal portions, or up to 10 as a side dish.
I generally cook my rice a day ahead, as it needs to be completely cold (beware if it’s not, you’ll end up with fried rice glue. I know this from experience). Sometimes I’ll cook extra if we’re already using rice for something else, other times I’ll steam some just for this recipe. My standard steam oven rice ‘recipe’ (for long grain varieties) is 1 cup rice to 1 ½ cups water on full steam (100⁰C) for 20 minutes, so for the below quantities I do 2 cups rice to 3 cups water and the same cooking time. I like jasmine rice here but any long grain variety will work. And I will sometimes make this with brown basmati rice if I can find it – it’s not at all traditional but I like the nuttier texture.
You’ll see Maggi Seasoning in the ingredients list here. It goes against just about ALL my minimally-processed, nutritionist-brain ideals as it’s pretty much just liquefied MSG, but after trying out everything I can think of as a substitute I’ve come to terms with the fact there’s no replacing its flavour. This is the only recipe I use it in and it is yet to do us any great harm in these small, infrequent quantities. I buy it at my local Asian supermarket - a bottle keeps for about 2 years in the pantry so I just keep it there ready for fried rice nights (my husband also likes to splash it all over most soups because he thinks I don’t salt them heavily enough, but given he’s a soup-hater in general I don’t think we can trust him).
As with most wok dishes, this comes together very quickly once you start cooking, so have everything chopped and ready to go before you turn on the cooktop.
Oh, and guess what?? I have finally figured out how to put a print friendly button on my recipes! For this and all future posts you can now click at the bottom of the post and get a nicely formatted (well, nicer than before) version to print off if you like. :)
2 tbs peanut oil
6 large (59g) free range eggs, lightly beaten
A thumb-sized piece of ginger, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 medium brown onion, finely diced
2 full rashers or 4-5 streaky rashers smoked bacon, diced
1 tsp caster sugar
2 tbs Shao Xing wine (dry sherry is an acceptable substitute if you don’t have any, but we use it for all sorts of Asian dishes)
½ small Chinese cabbage (wombok), shredded (this will seem like a mountain of cabbage but it cooks down quite a bit
6 cups cooked rice, cold (from 2 cups uncooked rice)
2 tbs oyster sauce
3 tsp Maggi Seasoning (see headnote)
½ tsp sesame oil
3 spring onions (scallions), finely sliced
About 60ml (1/4 cup) light soy sauce
1 large red chilli, finely chopped
Heat the oil in a large very hot wok until it looks like it’s shimmering. Pour in the eggs and gently move them around, scrambling until they’re just cooked (I use my absolute favourite olive-wood spatula for this and pretty much all other wok cooking). Don’t worry if they look a bit underdone in places as they’ll finish off cooking later. Lift the eggs out onto a paper-towel lined plate and set aside (mine usually come out in several large pieces, which is just fine), putting the wok back on the heat.
There should be a little oil remaining in the wok from cooking the eggs – if it looks completely dry, add another ½-1 tbs. Tip the ginger, garlic and onion into the wok and cook, stirring, until it softens. Don’t let it brown or you’ll have a not so delightful burnt garlic flavour to your rice.
Add the bacon and cook for a couple of minutes until it just begins browning, then tip in the sugar and Shao Xing wine and cook until the wine evaporates. Add the cabbage, give everything a stir and pop a lid on the wok for a minute or two to help the cabbage start to steam.
Once the cabbage looks like it’s on its way to softening (but not completely lifeless), add the rice, oyster sauce, Maggi Seasoning, sesame oil, spring onions and cooked eggs. Give everything a good stir and slightly break up the eggs into large bite sized pieces as you go. Continue cooking for 3 or 4 minutes until everything is heated through.
Serve the rice hot with the soy sauce and chilli on the side for everyone to dress their own.
But I don’t have a steam/combi-steam oven! Great, you don’t even need one for this! So long as you have some way of cooking rice you’re all set.
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