Not only every rice-growing country, but every region, one may say every family, has its repertoire of savoury fried rice recipes. Yet there is a great difference between a badly made fried rice and one that has been cooked in accordance with a few basic but important and practical guidelines.
The rice should be cooked about 2–3 hours before it is to be fried, so that it has time to get cold. Freshly cooked, still-hot rice will go soggy and oily if you fry it. The cold rice must be mixed in with the other ingredients when those ingredients are already cooked and still hot. From then on, the mixing and stir-frying must be done on a low heat and must continue until the rice is hot but not burnt.
If you are going to use seafood or meat, it is best to stir-fry this separately. You can use the same spice mixture as is given here for the fried rice, if you wish. Then mix the meat or seafood into the rice in the final 2 minutes before serving; or simply spread it on top of the rice on the serving dish.
Heat the oil and butter in a wok or large frying pan. Stir-fry the shallots and garlic for about 1 minute, then add the other ingredients, except the rice, and go on stir-frying for 5–6 minutes or until the vegetables are cooked. Add the rice, and mix it thoroughly with the vegetables so that it becomes hot and takes on the reddish tinge of the paprika and tomato. Serve hot, on a heated serving dish, either by itself as an accompaniment to the main course; or garnished with sliced cucumber, sliced tomatoes, watercress and Crisp-Fried Onion; or topped with seafood or meat as described above.
This basic fried rice can also be frozen for up to 2 months; thaw completely before reheating in the oven at 180°C/350°F/Gas Mark 4 for 15–20 minutes, or in the microwave. Cover the rice with aluminium foil to prevent it from drying in the oven.
© 1994 Sri Owen. All rights reserved.