I am yet to come across a Chinese restaurant at Mumbai which serves a fried rice that is similar to what one gets abroad.
The key difference is that restaurants here use long grained basmati rice. The grains of rice are separate.
The fried rice served in Chinese restaurants outside, and I am talking of Europe, Australia, Malaysia & Singapore here, are made with short grained rice with a texture that is more sticky than separate. The caveat of course is that I have not been to China yet so have no idea whether you even get a fried rice there. Let alone how it looks.
The other difference is that fried rice in restaurants abroad are flavoured in sauces and could serve as a one dish meal. The fried rice in most restaurants here except at 5 stars or at Ling’s is white…devoid of any flavours. Kolkata is different where you get fried rice favoured in soy sauce in old school Chinese restaurants.
I usually make noodles at home as rice which sticks together is where I draw my line when it comes to my love for the Orient.
There are times when I to want cook Chinese and yet feel lazy. Those are times when I make fried rice instead of noodles. Fried rice requires less tending as you cook… needs less oil too…plus you can take pre-boiled rice out of the fridge unlike noodles which are best had freshly boiled and tossed.
The basic template that I use is the same for both fried rice and hakka noodles.
Heat oil. Season with sauces & condiments. Add meat. Rice/ noodles. Add egg (if rice). Add vegetables at the end for crunch. Top with pre-scrambled eggs (if noodles).
I made a bacon & bokchoy rice yesterday. Bokchoy, part of what is locally called as ‘Chinese vegetables’ needs to cook a bit more and I added it before the vegetable crunch stage at the end.
Here’s the recipe in case you still need it after the template.
Bacon & bokchoy fried rice recipe (for 2)
- 1 coffee mug of boiled rice
- 1 egg
- 2 strips of bacon---finely chopped
- 1 teaspoon chopped ginger and or garlic. 2 or 3 star anise (optional)
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 1 teaspoon dark soy sauce
- 1/2 teaspoon each of green and red chilli sauce
- 1 stalk of bokchoy. Shredded
- 1 teaspoon sugar. 1 teaspoon salt. a pinch of ajino moto if you want. Both optional
- Half a lime or a teaspoon of vinegar
- 1/2 cup finely chopped vegetables – cabbage, carrots, bell pepper, mushrooms, corn, sprouts
- Heat oil in a wok
- Add ginger/ garlic/ star anise & stir for 10 sec
- Add the sauces and stir
- Add the meat – bacon in this case – stir
- Add mushroom & sweet corn and stir. They take more time to cook. This is optional
- Add rice. Stir
- Add salt, sugar (restaurant Chinese usually has a touch of sweet), lime/ vinegar…ajinomoto pinch if you want to. Stir till the rice takes the colour of the sauces
- Add the shredded bokchoy. Stir
- Break and add the egg directly onto the rice. I’ve seen this on TV shows and this is how pad thai noodles are made too. Keep stirring the rice and the egg so that the egg begins to wrap around the rice in tiny shreds. This is when the rice, and I use basmati, begins to break and looks more authentic
- Add the veggies at the end. Toss a bit and turn off the flame while the vegetables still retain their crunch
This is a one dish meal. At the most finely chop chillies and add to a mix of soy and vinegar to add on to the rice.
When I first came to India as a kid I would refuse to have Indian food. My mom would often make me fried rice then.