Fried rice, as you may or may not know, is much more of an art than a science, since there are so many interpretations. The basic principles and techniques are the same in the preparation. However, final flavor results span the spectrum based on the sometimes subtle, sometimes drastic, differences in the ingredients, which vary based on local availability, the cuisine itself, which is almost always some Asian cuisine, as well as the particular taste of the cook who is preparing it.
For example, Yang Chow Fried Rice is a Chinese fried rice that has a lot of stuff in it. What exactly that “stuff” comprises, I do not know, since I have never made it, but when we order Yang Chow Fried Rice at Chinese restaurants, it has a lot of "stuff" in it. I know there is shrimp in there, which is probably why I never eat it. Koreans make a type of fried rice with kimchee called, you guessed it, Kimchee Fried Rice. Koreans also do weird stuff with fried rice that might embarrass my culture like wrap it up in an egg crepe and smother it with ketchup. *shudders*
Another example of fried rice is my Mom’s Fried Rice. Long ago, Mom’s Fried Rice often included frozen vegetables and such protein atrocities as Spam. We were young, poor, and living in San Antonio, Texas. I’m surprised our fried rice didn’t have refried beans in it. Today, Mom’s Fried Rice is quite a departure from the simple fried rice of my yute. Mom is a thoroughly modern woman, and living now in ever-so cosmopolit-Asian Los Angeles, she has access to things that go well beyond canned spiced ham. Mom’s Fried Rice is something every sophisticated man or woman should attempt once in his or her life if he or he wants to be considered something for anything. The instructions are below, which you should read through several times before starting because there are more than multiple – almost a dozen! – steps. If the recipe is too complicated, don’t be afraid to ask me questions in the comments. I’ll make fun of you, but behind you back so you don't feel bad. My Mom, however, will definitely make fun of you right to your face.
Mom’s Fried Rice
- Heat “very good” cooking oil in wok. Not EVOO. My Mom would never use such pedestrian garbage. Don’t be afraid to spend a few extra cents on PVO, pure vegetable oil. I am not quite sure what fancy brand of PVO my Mom used, but my choice would be “Ralphs.”
- Add enough day-old rice to feed the number of people you’re feeding. If you’re good, you can eyeball it. If you’re not good, that’s pretty sad. By the way, "day-old" means you cooked the rice the day before and it is now one-day-old, hence the name "day old rice."
- Using a pair of kitchen shears, cut open the “Fried Rice Mix” package
- Carefully pour the entire contents of the Fried Rice Mix package into the wok that already has the rice in it.
- Add the recommended amount of water to rehydrate the freeze-dried vegetables.
- Stir to combine.
- Fry to perfection.
- Season to taste with salt and pepper. Just kidding. There’s enough MSG in that package to put a small village to sleep for six days. What this step is really supposed to say is “taste,” even though you just fried it “to perfection.”
- Pour the finished rice into an attractive serving bowl or dish with deep sides.
- Garnish with something classy and suggestive on ingredients in the dish like julienned nori. Or curly parsley. Incidentally, there is no parsley in the fried rice, but curly parsley is often a sign of a classy dish.
- Pass a small bowl of soy sauce, because nothing says “authentic Asian fried rice” than dousing the whole thing with a little Kikkoman.
My Mom really did make Fried Rice from a package.
However, in no way am I making fun of my Mom. In fact, I have all kinds of respect for her even though she is completely abandoning me for three weeks to go “holiday” overseas. But hey, I’m not a bitter child.
I was hurled into a state of complete and utter shock during brunch at home a few weeks ago when I realized Mom made fried rice from a package because my Mom is a ridiculously good cook. I mean she is so good, it's ricockulous. However, she explained to me that making fried rice from scratch between the 10th and 11th tees is a little difficult to manage, especially since she wears an inverted satellite dish as a visor to protect her dewy, youthful skin. Besides, she was packing to get ready to head off to her mother land to twirl about town with all her giggling girlfriends and was all a’mess trying to track down a Dior handbag.
See what I mean? My Mom is pretty much f’amazing.
The rest of the brunch was all kinds of family fun: stir-frying rice with a packaged mix, grilling store-marinated galbee, toasting various kinds of pre-made gogi jun (battered and pan-fried mini ground beef patties), ho-bahk jun (same thing, but with sliced zucchini), and bin-dae-dduk (pancakes made from vegetables and ground mung bean flour), and serving bahnchan carefully handpicked f
rom the bahnchan bar.
Mom found some crazy little things that I thought were quail eggs and refused to eat until she made me try one. They were itty bitty potatoes. I didn't like them that much. That's one where my Mom didn't quite come through, but hey, no woman is perfect except for God.
Come home soon, Mom. I miss your "cooking."