Fried Rice

Fried Rice

Serves 4 for a main course, 6 for a first course

1-1/2 cups leftover chicken or ham, cut into ½-inch dice (a rotisserie chicken works well for this), or ¾ pounds pre-cooked small shrimp, or a 12-ounce package of extra-firm tofu, drained, patted dry, and cut into 3/4-inch cubes

2 carrots, peeled and cut into ½-inch dice

2 stalks celery, trimmed and cut into ½-inch dice

3 eggs, well-beaten

6 scallions, roots trimmed, cut in ½-inch slices

2 cups broccoli cut in 1-inch pieces, microwaved for 4 minutes

3 cups cold leftover rice, or 1-1/2 cups raw long-grain rice

4 tablespoons soy sauce

½ to 1 teaspoon chili-garlic paste (depending on how hot you like it)

½ teaspoon black pepper

8 tablespoons vegetable oil for frying

If you’ve got leftover rice, spread it out on a large baking sheet, rubbing the rice gently between your hands to separate the grains.  Let the rice warm up to room temperature, about a half hour.  If you’re cooking rice, bring 6 cups of water to a boil.  Add the rice and 1 teaspoon of salt, bring back to the boil and simmer for 15 minutes.  Drain the rice, then spread it on the baking sheet, and let it cool for an hour.

Put the meat or shrimp or tofu on a microwave-safe plate and heat for 30 seconds, to take the chill off.  Set the plate aside.

Heat 2 tablespoons vegetable oil in a 12-inch nonstick skillet over high heat.  When the oil shimmers and moves easily, add the carrots and celery.  Cook for 2 minutes, stirring, then turn the heat down and cover the pan for 2 more minutes.  Uncover the pan and cook for another minute – the vegetables should just be starting to soften but still have some texture.  Put them on the plate with the meat or shrimp.

Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in a medium nonstick skillet until very hot.  Add the eggs and scramble them until they’re set but look just a little wet.  Put them back into the same bowl you beat them in initially while you fry the rice.

Mix the soy sauce, chili-garlic paste, and black pepper together and set aside.

Heat up 4 tablespoons of vegetable oil in the same skillet over high heat.  This time, bring the oil just past the shimmer point, you will see a tiny wisp of smoke come up.  Add the rice, and stir fry it, moving the rice around continuously.  It will start to smell good and roasty, and the rice grains will look just slightly yellowed.  Add the scrambled eggs and break up the egg into about ¾-inch pieces.  Then stir in the meat/shrimp and all the vegetables and the scallions and cook for about 30 seconds, stirring everything around.  Stir in the soy sauce mixture, tossing to combine everything.  Taste, and add another tablespoon of soy sauce if you think it needs it.  Serve immediately.