Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Working Eater Series: Friday Night Fried Rice

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!


  1. That looks delicious and I think that even I could attempt that recipe :)

  2. Another winner. I learn so much from you.
    Do you ever use different vegetables?

  3. Hi PE - Fried Rice...very, very nice! LOL! Fried Rice is one of my favorite (along with REPS, loco mocos, and jook) breakfast foods.....guess it's not just for breakfast anymore!

  4. What a coincidence. I was faced with the same dilemma last night. Same veggies too, carrots and green onion. Only difference was I had aging SPAM as well. But I chickened out. Didn't make the fried rice. Ended up making some mashed potatoes and sausages since the potatoes were starting to sprout! My apartment is just a hotbed of aging produce. The carrots I steamed and the green onion I diced and saved for arroz caldo my co-worker said he was bringing in for us this morning...

    And that SPAM? Well, it's now very lonely in my fridge. ;-)

  5. By the way, I forgot to say that I adored this post! Just like all your others! I especially loved "geriatric vegetables living in the 'old foods nursing home' known as my fridge"...

    ...Have a great time visiting your parents!

  6. hey p.e.,

    guilty of the ole vegetable sweep a few times myself... that's why i never order fried rice at chinese restaurants either cause i'm afraid they're thinking the same thing.. its a little different when its not your own leftovers....know what i mean, bean... ;)

  7. Hello there Rachel! From your website, it seems like you attempt (and master) many recipes! I'll keep tuned in for more details on the vrenikis and more delicious meals to come!

    Thank you Cookie Crumb! Yes, I sometimes use corn or green beans, and almost always use green peas. I've also known people who add bamboo and of course, pineapple. I generally add meat (like ham and shrimp), but I didn't add many ingredients this time because of my empty fridge. Feel free to send me an email if you'd like some more specific suggestions.

    But what about the yogurt you generally have for breakfast Kirk? But hey, if I was faced with the choice of loco mocos and jook or yogurt, the choice would be easy! (P.S. What does "REPS" stand for?)

    Thanks Elmo Monster for your kind wishes! Wow, you didn't make fried rice and had all three critical fried rice components! Especially with Spam "ready and willing" in the fridge, I don't know how you overcame the urge to make fried rice. You can always use the leftover Spam to make those Spam sushi rolls. That way, it would finally have some companionship!

    I do know what you mean Diet Chili Cheese Fries. Someone was telling me that their friend worked for a restaurant up here in SF, and they actually used old rice collected from the rice pots they put on the tables to make fried rice! Kinda nasty, but sometimes the rice from bad restaurants has that special "added flavor" that makes it so unique.

  8. Hi there!

    Let me introduce myself, I'm Paul, the owner of recipes365.net, I started this weblog recently to showcase a recipe a day everyday. I was wondering would you be interested to be a recipe contributor?

    Regards. Paul.

  9. Hey PE,

    Old frozen veggies and Spam make the best fried rice, fo'shizzle.

    Have fun in LA! Hey, next time you're down here let us know so all us bloggers can meet up!

  10. Hi PE - LOL! Because of time constraints during the week - yogurt, or something similar is the norm - doesn't mean I love it though.... REPS is Rice, Eggs, Portuguese Sausage. Have a fun trip!

  11. Hello Paul (Ng Wai Mun)! I'd be glad to contribute the recipes that I've already posted. Also, I'll put a link to your site on mine. Good luck, and thank you for starting such an ambitious project which will be a fantastic resources for the online community. I know that I be a repeat visitor to your site!

    Thank you Daily Gluttony! I'm glad to see that you are feeling better and back to posting! I was actually was thinking about meeting up with the Southern California food bloggers when I visit LA. This time, I am only staying down here for a few days, but I'll let everyone know when I come to visit next time.

    Yum yum, I love eggs, so I know I love the REPS combo. Thank you for your kind wishes Kirk. I hope that you are feeling better soon.

  12. Excellent, this photo is soooooo porny i love it. The carrots, eggs and green onions not only make the dish taste great, but look great. *high-5* buddy.

    sorry, i had to delete my posting on Iron Chef Battle Souplantation b/c of a glitch - and your comment was deleted. But i replied.

  13. YES! Rick Bayless!!!!! Do you remember our conversation about him a few months back? =)

  14. Of course I do Jeff L, I love that guy!


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