My Mum's fried rice is world's best fried rice.
There. I said it.
You'll protest. You'll campaign for some version by some relative or restaurant. Maybe it'll involve ingredients like crab, or salted egg, or salted-fish slivers. I'll nod and smile. I'll invite you to organise a taste-off. I might even really enjoy your candidate. But just so we're clear, I'm not actually going to concede anything.
Ok, I might concede that I'm a tad biased. But I'll have you know, this fried rice has been known to inspire saint-like patience among its pilgrims.
For about a decade now my Mum's been involved in a bible study organisation. They meet every week, and every year they mix up all the members in all the groups to make sure everyone circulates. Once a year, each small group gathers at their discussion leader's home for a social lunch.
Fried rice is at the top of my Mum's list of reliable party tricks, so she serves it at just about every one of these bible study group social lunches. Except she's been with the organisation so long that this year she had a few women in her group who were also in her group 7 years ago.
She took them aside at lunch to apologise for serving fried rice again.
Their response: "You don't understand. We've waited 7 years to eat your fried rice again!"
So. Even if you don't believe this is the world's best fried rice, you have to admit it's at least a bit... divine, no?
Mum's had a lot of time to perfect this recipe. She's been making it probably since the 1960s, to serve up when her entire family went to Changi Beach for their annual family picnic. Since then both the fried rice and Changi Beach have gotten more colourful, and developed more character (or characters, in the case of some notorious parking lots at Changi Beach). But the foundation stone to this dish remains the same: The rice has to be steamed and totally cooled before the frying process, so that it will stay whole and grainy when fried, rather than break down into a damp starchy goop.
Still not convinced? Ah well. As a certain Good Book said somewhere, maybe you'll just have to "taste and see that it is good".
Note: Photos here show Mum's fried rice being cooked for 16. I've halved the proportions in the text of this post so that it should serve 8. Just in case this all looks like an optical illusion!
6 cups white rice, cooked and cooled down the day before frying
5 eggs, cracked into a bowl and beaten quickly with a fork for 2 minutes until air bubbles form
3 Lap cheong (waxed Chinese sausages), finely diced. Look for these in an Asian specialist grocery. For the really adventurous, Rose's Kitchen even has a recipe to make your own!
500g small prawns, peeled and de-veined (Always save the heads and shells. Freeze them until you need to make a prawn-based soupstock e.g., tomyum soup!)
250g char siew (BBQed roast pork), finely diced. Any decent Cantonese-style Chinese diner selling roast meats will also sell this. Again, for the really adventurous, here are some char siew recipes from My Wok Life, Chubby Hubby and Rasa Malaysia if you want to try making your own
A handful of shallots, finely chopped
Salt and light soya sauce to taste
1-2 cucumbers, sliced
2-3 large tomatoes, sliced
1 small head lettuce, finely shredded
3 stalks of spring onions, finely diced
A small handful of coriander stalks, finely diced
2-3 red chillies, finely sliced
1-2 kalamansi limes, juice squeezed onto the cut red chili
- Drizzle a little olive oil into a wok on high heat on the stove
- Pour the beaten eggs into the wok
- Spread the eggs around the wok as much as possible to brown the eggs just a tad
- When most of the egg has cooked through, use the spatula to "chop" up the egg
- Remove the eggs from the wok and set aside
- Pour the diced chinese sausage into the wok, and let sit for a minute or 2, to tease the oil out of the chinese sausage
- Remove the chinese sausage from the work and set aside
- Pour the prawns into the wok, and fry them in the chinese sausage oil until about half the prawns are pink (this might be the source of the dish's divinity, me thinks)
- Add the diced char siew to the wok and stirfry with the prawns until the rest of the prawns are pink
- Remove the prawns and char siew and set aside
- Drizzle a generous amount of olive oil into the wok and let it warm up for a minute
- Add the chopped shallots to the wok and fry until the shallots start to brown
- Add the rice to the work and stir until the rice is somewhat evenly covered with the shallots
- Add the eggs to the wok. Stir until roughly even
Above: Cameo appearance by Aunty Kiew Moi, our veteran housekeeper, who's been executing Mum's fried rice recipe with aplomb for the last 30 years or so!
- Add the prawns, char siew and chinese sausages to the wok. Stir until even
- Keep stirring! Use 2 spatulas if needed. Add salt and light soya sauce to taste
- Transfer to rice cooker to keep warm
- Serve up with shredded lettuce and sliced cucumber and tomato on the side
- Garnish rice with spring onion and cilantro
- Drizzle on a little cut red chili and lime juice
Bonus tip if you've read this far: If you're really serious about your audience for this dish, get this all fried up the day before you're serving it. Let the flavours sit and meld for a day, and reheat the fried rice either by steaming or microwaving (steaming preferred, to keep the prawns tender) just befor serving. It tastes even more heavenly then!