Monday, April 26, 2010

UnRecipe: Fried Rice is Nice

Like most grand schemes, this one came together late one night after a couple of vodkas on the rocks while staring blankly into my parents' refrigerator. What, you think Steve Jobs doesn't do this, pondering the mysteries of the refrigerator light? My mother always cooks a couple of dishes for the week and gets a take-out lunch once or twice, so the refrigerator is always filled with leftovers of varying portions and provenance. My dad is hell-bent on never letting a single bite of food go to waste, so there are plates with little bits of things on every shelf of the fridge. Granted, the concept of Hawaii-style fried rice isn't new, but it was a direct result of a long stare into their refrigerator abyss.

Hawaii-style Fried Rice, as Conceptualized via Vodka Goggles - Photo by Wasabi Prime

A single slice of Spam, one kalbi rib, a few slices of char-siu, random bits from a take-out bento, and cold rice. The brain cells not yet euthanized from the night's cocktails managed to fire off the notion to make fried rice out of all the random stuff. Staying at my parents' house, I hadn't cooked in a few days, was feeling antsy, so I set my mind to get cookin'. I love cold rice for no other reason that this is the only useful way to take advantage of it. It will never be resurrected to the perfect, gluten-sticky consistency of it being freshly scooped from the rice cooker, and the benefit of the fridge-stale chill is that it gives the fried rice a good toothy bite. The next time you have that lone take-out box of white rice from the Chinese restaurant the night before, chop up whatever leftovers you have in the fridge, add a scrambled egg, some soy sauce, and mix with the rice -- you'll never want to order fried rice from a restaurant again because you'll realize how ridiculously simple (and cheap) it is.

Leftovers get all Voltron and form a single robo-meal of deliciousness - Photo by Wasabi Prime 

I don't often get to cook for my parents, much less my mom. When I stay with family, she always insists on doing everything because, well, it's Mom. That's what they do and that's why Moms are the best. Plus, it was a nice thing to not only cook something for my dad, but to see that he enjoyed it. He has particular tastes, he likes what he likes, and while he knows I do this "cooking internet thing," I don't think he fully realized that I can indeed put a meal together without setting the house on fire or causing global nuclear meltdown. Way to go, Wasabi! Or who knows, maybe he was just being kind and thought the fried rice sucked. But again, it's our parents -- we can never truly disappoint them when they see we've made an effort. Even if it meant getting drunk and rummaging through the fridge.

Making fried rice, plus pink fish cakes that clearly live in a Barbie World - Photos by Wasabi Prime

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  1. Yum! One of the most surprising things about my trip to Hawaii a few weeks ago was the fried rice. I just had no idea how creative Hawaiians could be with their food! I love this post- very funny and so true for many of us refrigerator-starer-ponderers... Well done!

  2. Yum! That looks so good, and I'm glad to hear you got to show off your cooking chops at home! I've always envied my Mom, who is a leftover genius though granted, she also is known for having a year-old tub of sour cream sitting on the shelf (don't ask how we found out). I guess creativity with food takes a bit of a stingy personality :)

  3. The Chinese Chefs like to coat the Fried Rice with a flavored oil, like from the fried meats or a salted fish. Gives the Fried Rice an extra layer of flavor.

    Have you noticed that when you fry Kamaboko that it develops a different flavor than just plain Kamaboko. The fried Kamaboko, to me, tastes nuttier. That's why I like to fry my Kamaboko with the meats before adding the overnight rice.

  4. I love making fried rice. I agree, once you start making it, you never want to order it from a restaurant. Cold, old rice is key though. Not OLD but leftover, I should say. You certainly had some fabulous ingredients at your disposal for this gorgeous bowl! Let's face it, some fried rice turns out better than others, and any one containing char siu has a leg up.


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