I typically walk to the market every day for groceries, but ever since I pulled my Achilles I’ve had to do a lot more cooking on the fly.
The other day I limped to the fridge to figure something out for lunch. I found some leftover rice, a couple of eggs, blanched green beans, and sautéed mushrooms. I could have made an omelet and reheated the rice in the microwave, but fried rice came to mind.
It was because of the rice. It was dry and crumbly, perfect for fried rice because the grains separate nicely in the wok. Chewy, fluffy rice just doesn’t cut it. You need stuff that’s hard, dry, borderline inedible to make good fried rice.
With the odds and ends from the fridge, I had the foundation for great vegetarian fried rice, but I decided to add a little meat. I hobbled into the garage and dug through the freezer for a Chinese sausage (lop chong). I cut it into 1/4-inch cubes so it would mix nicely with the chopped beans and mushrooms (every mouthful should have little bit of everything).
Fried rice is usually flavored with salt and soy sauce but I opted for curry powder, a trick I picked up from Ramenya, a noodle shop in West Los Angeles that serves killer curry fried rice. The curry powder stained the grains a pretty yellow and seasoned them well. You never want to put too much liquid seasonings into fried rice or it will turn mushy.
For extra bite, I mixed in some shredded Japanese red ginger.
Curry Fried Rice
Feel free to tweak this rice according to what you have on hand. Some chopped scallion can be cooked along with the garlic.
Serves 2 as a light meal
3 cups dry cooked rice, at room temperature
2 tablespoons plus 1 tablespoon canola oil
2 eggs, lightly beaten with a shot of fish sauce
1 garlic clove, minced
1 dried Chinese sausage (lop chong), quartered lengthwise and then cut crosswise into dice, or 1/2 cup leftover chopped cooked chicken, pork, or beef
1 cup leftover cooked vegetables, cut into bite-size pieces
1 tablespoon Japanese red pickled ginger (kizami shoga)
1. Crumble up the rice to prevent lumps. Set aside.
2. Heat a wok or large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add 2 tablespoons of the oil, then half of the egg, swirling to make a thin omelet about 7 to 8 inches wide. When the edges firm up, about 30 seconds, use a spatula or your fingers to flip it over. Cook for another 15 seconds, until just done, then slide onto your cutting board. Repeat with the remaining egg. Chop the egg up into bite-size pieces.
3. Reheat the wok (or skillet) over medium-high heat. Add the remaining tablespoon of oil and the garlic. Stir-fry for about 20 seconds, until fragrant. Add the sausage and vegetables, and cook for 1 to 2 minutes to heat through. Add the egg and stir to combine.
4. Sprinkle in about 1 teaspoon of curry powder. Taste to see if there’s sufficient flavor. Add more curry powder, if needed.
5. Add the rice, and keep stir-frying for 1 to 2 minutes, until it’s heated through. Turn off heat, stir in the ginger and season with salt. Transfer to plate or shallow bowl and serve.