I'm going down to Southern California to visit my parents this weekend, and accordingly, I have to get rid of the geriatric vegetables living in the "old foods nursing home" known as my fridge.
What better way to eliminate all of my elderly vegetables, than making an easy dish that sweeps in all of the leftovers in the kitchen, and presents those leftovers as one unique and tantalizing package? Yes folks, I'm referring to the wonderful invention of "fried rice."
This morning, Rick Bayless did a mouth-wateringly descriptive interview on KPFA radio, leaving me enamored with him and leaving my stomach growling like a bear on steroids. Yea Barry Bonds, you know what I'm talkin' bout. But as I paused to reflect upon his words, I realized that his vivid description of mole sauce and Mexican cooking actually also described a hearty bowl of fried rice. Mr. Bayless opined that unlike American and European food, Mexican food is very complex and multi-faceted. For instance, in American and European cuisine, a primary ingredient is generally the focus of the attention. For example, one might say, "I love the way the taste of the basil rises above this meal." However, with Mexican food, a multitude of different (and one may say "competing") flavors act in a symphony, so your experience is a new combination of flavors.
I believe that Mr. Bayless's description extends to fried rice. Although I jokingly dub fried rice to be "the resting place for retired vegetables," it actually is a substantial meal with a unique balance of flavors and components. The multiple vegetables, proteins, and carbohydrates within fried rice all interact with one another, and yet none of them monopolize the limelight of the dish. Each contributes and plays its own role in a harmonious symphony. Additionally, fried rice is different across all Asian cultures--there are different recipes for different families. Thus, the history of fried rice is just as varied as its ingredients.
To celebrate fried rice, and to clean out my fridge, I decided to write and post a quick and dirty recipe for a non-fussy version of fried rice for my Working Eater Series.
Friday Night Fried Rice
2 tbsp of vegetable oil
3 medium carrots, washed, peeled, and chopped into small cubes
3 eggs, beaten with a pair of chopsticks
4 sprigs of green onions, chopped, white and green portions separated
4 cups of cooked long-grain jasmine rice, preferrably cold
2 tbsp of fish sauce
1 tbsp of soy sauce
1 tsp of sesame oil
1/2 tsp of sugar
Heat the oil in a large wok until shimmering. Fry the eggs and the white parts of the scallions as an omelet. After the eggs have fully cooked, set them aside.
In the same pan, still on high heat, toss in the chopped carrots. Add more vegetable oil if necessary. Cook the carrots until they are softened, but still have a bite. Essentially, cook them until they are al dente.
Quickly add the rice, and continue moving the ingredients in the pan, to keep the rice from burning or sticking. When the ingredients have been sufficiently mixed, dissolve the sugar in a small bowl with the fish sauce and soy sauce. Add the sauce into the rice, continuing to move and stir the rice.
When all of the ingredients have been incorporated, add the eggs and the remaining portion of the green onions. Turn off the heat and add the sesame oil.
Serve the rice with Rick Bayless on the television. Enjoy!
Side Note: I entertained the idea of naming this post, "Fried Rice: The Rice of Advanced Years," but thought that was too corny. I've conjured up enough tired-ESPN-pun titles in my short food blogger lifetime. Anyway, I hope you like the recipe!