By TAO YU
By TAO YU
YANGZHOU fried rice and Fujian fried rice (also known as Hokkien fried rice) are always found on the menus of most fancy Cantonese restaurants, especially Chinese restaurants in hotels.
There is no specific rule when it comes to the ingredients used to make fried rice. You can add any ingredients you want, such as sausage, sea cucumber, or roast pork. Anyone can create his or her own fried rice according to their preferences.
Yangzhou fried rice evolved from the golden fried rice (referring to egg fried rice, as the rice appears golden in color because they are evenly coated with eggs). Such golden fried rice was recorded together with other 52 dishes by Xie Feng, head chef for Emperor Yang Guang of the Sui Dynasty (569-618) in a book about Chinese cuisine.
It is said that Emperor Yang Guang visited Yangzhou three times and the golden fried rice was a must eat for him. Therefore, the golden fried rice was included as an imperial dish. During the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644), the chefs in Yangzhou added more ingredients to golden fried rice, creating the Yangzhou fried rice.
The Bureau of Quality and Technical Supervision of Yangzhou has released a standard recipe of Yangzhou fried rice, which includes the ingredients of Indica rice, fresh eggs, sea cucumber, cooked chicken thigh, Chinese ham, scallop, lake shrimp, mushroom, bamboo shoot, and peas. With such a large variety of ingredients, the fried rice features colors of red, green, yellow, white, and orange. The rice should be thoroughly fried so that it isn’t clumped together and appears a bit shiny.
Rice remains crucial in making nice Yangzhou fired rice. Indica rice that is ripe in late autumn is preferred to make the dish. To make sure the rice looks full and fluffy after it is cooked, it is better to steam rather than boil them. The rice will taste even better if first soaked in cold water for a few hours before cooking.
You can also mix a pinch of salt and a spoon of peanut oil evenly with the rice, making the rice look perfect after being steamed.
To make a bowl of perfect fried rice, we should make sure that the rice is evenly coated with egg, resembling the “silver wrapped in gold.” Special attention should also be paid to prepare other ingredients such as sea cucumber, chicken, ham, scallop, mushroom, and bamboo sprout. Sprinkle all the ingredients with soup stock into the wok and stir-fry them with cooked rice, a bowl of appetizing Yangzhou fried rice is ready to be served.
TAO YU is a columnist of the Chinese Cuisine magazine.