I think everyone should have a clear-the-pantry recipe. Who here has never had a time when you open the fridge, and you see some containers of leftover lying here, some bit of fresh ingredients lying there that are nowhere near enough to make any wholesome dishes, and you want to go groceries shopping but have neither the space in the fridge nor the willpower to throw all those food away ? Such are the times when clear-the-pantry recipes are needed.
I happened to have sausages/ hot dogs and a can of Mexican mixed corns, baby peas, and paprikas in my fridge today, so…voila, here’s the Vietnamese-US-Mexican fried rice recipe But this is a non-recipe recipe – don’t limit yourself, put anything you want in your fried rice, because they will eventually come out brilliant anyway. Fried rice is also very quick to assemble, which explains why it’s so popular among the student population, who want tasty food but eternally have so little time or are just down right lazy.
- 3 small, serving-sized bowls/ 3 cups of dry, cool and well-cooked rice
- 1 egg and 1 egg yolk
- 200 grams sausages
- 1 small can (150 gram or 1/3 lb.) of mixed sweetcorn, peas and paprikas
- 2 ~ 3 shallots (15 gram) – remove skin, thinly sliced or chopped
- Soy sauce, oyster sauce or fish sauce.
- 3 Tbsp oil
1. Prepare the ingredients:
– Slice sausages into thin slices. Drain the mixed corns, peas and paprikas. Thinly slice or chop the shallots.
– Mix rice with egg, egg yolk, about 1 Tbsp soy sauce and 1/2 Tbsp oyster sauce until every rice grain is covered with the egg and soy and oyster sauce. You can replace soy sauce with fish sauce if you like. I normally use a bit of oyster sauce in fried-rice as it makes the rice shiny and fragrant.
2. Heat 3 Tbsp oil in a non-stick pan (or a wok) on high heat. Add shallots and stir-fry for about a minute until aromatic.
3. Add rice into the pan and fry until the rice seems almost “dry” and tender (about 2-3 minutes). Use chopsticks to stir through the rice to prevent it from clumping.
4. Add sausages and continue stir-frying for 3 – 4 minutes until the sausages are cooked.
5. Finally add the mixed vegetables and mix well with the rice, stir for 1 minute. At this stage, you can get a spoonful of rice, sausages and vegetables and taste. Add more soy sauce, fish sauce or oyster sauce if needed.
6. Remove the pan from heat. Serve the fried rice while it’s still hot.
Tips for delicious fried rice
What makes a bowl of fried rice ‘delicious’? That is a subjective question – just like when you ask people ‘what makes a pretty girl?’. However, in my humble opinion, these are the essential elements to a tasty bowl of fried rice:
- The rice should be tender and the grain separated from each other. I don’t like rice clumps in my fried rice – not because they taste bad or anything but they just make the fried rice less aesthetically appealing.
- The rice should not be too oily, despite being called ‘fried rice’.
- The grain of the rice should have a beautiful and even golden egg coat and the rice overall should have a fragrant and flavourful aroma.
To tick all of the above three boxes, here are some tips:
- Use dry and cool, well-cooked rice. Normally long-grain rice is used but short-grain rice also works, as long as it is dry. The rice should be cooked well in advance, with an appropriate amount of water so that the grain does not stick to each other too much, forming “lumps”. Left over rice, particularly over night is great because it has cooled down and become somewhat drier as well. If you use freshly-cooked rice, then after the rice is done, use chopsticks or a folk to fluff up the rice and separate the grains. Leave it to cool in a well-ventilated place or in front of a fan.
- Don’t use too much oil when frying the rice. In general, we don’t use too much oil and fat in Vietnamese cooking. It would be very hard to find a Vietnamese dish that is very greasy or creamy, or contains a lot of fat. For fried rice, usually, for a serving-sized bowl of rice, 1 tablespoon of oil is enough to make the rice tender and a little bit crunchy. Also, as we are not using a lot of oil, we will need a good ol’ trustworthy nonstick pan.
- Always use some shallots and/ or garlic, and stir fry them until aromatic before adding the rice into the pan. This helps to enhance the taste of the dish quite a lot.
- If using eggs in fried-rice, the best way is to break the egg and mix it well with the rice before frying. The eggs help the rice grains separate from each other and create a nice “coat” for these grains, giving the rice a nice color and taste.
- A little bit of oyster sauce goes a long way – your rice will be so shiny and fragrant.
- Eat it while it’s hot. Who can really wait anyway?
- Recipe & Photos: Linh Trang
- Written by: Thao Dan
- Edited by: Thao Dan