Monday, July 26, 2010

Mixing food cultures. (食文化を混ぜてる。)

Well, as per usual, I find myself sitting in front of my laptop with nary an idea in my stress-wracked brain, but unfortunately I don't foresee another brilliant flash of inspiration anywhere in my near future.

I really hate when this happens.

So, I have decided to resort to yet another riveting session of "Cooking with Edo", although this time my recipe is not necessarily authentic, and it is certainly not traditional in any sense of the word.

But at the same time, you can call it by a Japanese name, so that's all right. What more do you want from me? I posted about Hawaiian food last time, give me a break!

Not to mention the fact that it's a great easy dinner no matter where you live, and you can pop it in your bento/lunch-box/tupperware easy as pie. Good warm or cold, it is the perfect single-person dish!

...I'm selling it a bit too hard, aren't I.

焼き飯 (yakimeshi, fried rice)

So, technically, fried rice is not a Japanese dish. I'm dubious as to whether or not it's a Chinese dish, even, but we'll put that aside for now. Japanese dish or no, fried rice is a common dish in the land of the rising sun, and is available even in convenient frozen-food form. And really, what says authentic like a freezer section?

Oh, yea, that picture up there? A very rough representation of the recipe I'm about to share with you lot. For one thing, no peas. Never understood that desire to go randomly inserting legumes everywhere, myself. However, I have not made this dish in quite some time, and quite frankly, I don't aim for pretty and photogenic when I'm making it, so the above is really much better than the alternative.

And at least it has the right protein in it.

...Oh, right. Guess I should have called this shrimp fried rice to begin with, huh? Oh well, you can customize it to cater to your personal meat preferences, so I won't limit your imagination.

Ok, before I start, I must say that I originally adapted this recipe from that on My Lunch Can Beat Up Your Lunch!, and you may care to do so as well. You may also care to simply roam around the site, as it is awesome and has a number of recipes that I have tried and enjoyed, such as the An Pan (which is also, coincidentally, how my mother found out that she loves anko.)

All right, here we go. This is another one of those to-taste recipes, so be prepared.

 2-3 Cups Cooked Rice (leftover or fresh)
 Pre-Cooked, Tail-On Shrimp, roughly chopped (how many is up to you; I usually go for a good handful)
 2-3 Carrots, diced (depending on the size)
 2-3 Large Eggs (depending on how much egg you like)
 1 Can Sliced Mushrooms, chopped (fresh should be fine, but I've always used canned, heathen that I am)
 Soy Sauce (to taste)
 Canola Oil, 2 tblsp, and 2 tblsp
 1 Can Bamboo Shoots, chopped (optional)
 1 Can Water Chestnuts, chopped (optional)
Frying Pan
Cook your rice, if you haven't already. You don't want it piping hot when you add it to the pan, so be sure to start it first and then leave it open to cool off a bit once it's done.

Crack both of your eggs into a bowl and beat them up with a fork; think scrambled eggs, just without the milk. I wouldn't suggest salting them, considering the amount of soy sauce you'll be putting into this recipe later. Pour your first two tablespoons of oil into your pan (keep in mind that I guesstimated here; I never actually measure out the oil, but choose instead to eyeball it) and turn on the heat. Wait for a bit, and test whether it's hot enough in your own fashion: some suggest looking for a shimmer, others suggest putting a tiny bit of your egg in and seeing if it sizzles. Myself, I go with the highly-dangerous and not-recommended method of dribbling a few drops of water in and seeing if they pop. Yea, the Food Network told you never to do that, didn't they? But me, I laugh in the face of danger, ah ha ha ha!

Once you've determined your oil is hot enough, pour your eggs in, moving them around in the pan to form a nice even layer of scrambled goodness. Then, as they cook, hack them up with your spatula to get them all nice and bite-sized before they set up too much and become difficult to cut. Myself, I like some egg in every bite, and thus try to get some pretty small eggy-bits; you might prefer bigger bits yourself, so it's up to you.

Once your eggs are cooked, turn off the heat and scrape them back into the bowl (that you have cleaned in the interim, preferably; no one wants to mix raw and cooked egg, now do they?). Try to resist snacking on your bite-sized eggy-bits throughout the remainder of the cooking process.

Clean our your pan if you so wish, then pour in the rest of your oil. Heat it up again, check using your preferred method, and then slide in your chopped-up shrimp and carrots. Now, you don't need to cook the shrimp this way--they are pre-cooked, after all--I just like the flavor it gets from the oil and carrots. Check the recipe I linked to above for other meat options, as I only ever make this baby with shrimp. If you would like to add any other vegetables (which you are free to do), add the hard ones at this point as well; you don't want any crunchy, raw veggies in your fried rice, after all. However, if you're following my recipe to the T, just the shrimp and carrots for a while.

Cook, moving around the pan every now and again, and check the carrots every five minutes or so--you want to be able to cut them in half with your spatula without too much effort. It is for this reason that you don't wanna chop your carrots too small; while they might cook much faster, they're harder to test. However, if you are a culinary genius, by all means, chop whichever way you please; just don't blame me if your carrots aren't cooked properly.

Once your carrots and shrimp are done, add your rice to the pan. Remember, piping hot is not ideal, so if it just finished cooking, toss it up a bit in the rice cooker before adding it. Stir up your pan-ful with every few scoops of rice; it's easier to mix as you go than trying to incorporate it all at the end. Once all the rice is in the pan, give it another good mix--your rice should be faintly orange in color, from the carrots, oil and shrimp.

Now, break out the soy sauce. I apologize for those of you who like a recipe with a bit more information, but this is entirely dependent on your taste. It's going to need more than you think, but it's always safer to add too little then put more on later--it's really hard to take it out, after all. Anyway, give your rice mixture a good slosh of soy sauce, and mix it up. Try to gauge by color and by taste--your rice should be browner than when it started. Again, better safe than sorry--if you've added some soy sauce and aren't sure whether or not you need more, wait until it's in your bowl before you season further.

Now it's time to add your soft ingredients--dump in your egg (don't tell me you ate it all!) and your chopped mushrooms, and your bamboo shoots and water chestnuts if you have them. I say these last two are optional because I only ever add them when they're lying around the kitchen; water chestnuts only add texture really, and bamboo shoots are pretty mild. Neither will make or break the recipe, but they are a tasty and healthy addition if you have them around. However, I have only ever added one at a time... if you add both, do tell me how it goes.

After you've mixed everything in entirely, you're pretty much done with the labor intensive part--now it's time to turn the heat down a bit and let the flavors meld. I usually let it go for about eight to ten minutes, stirring it up every now and again to make sure nothing's burning or sticking to the bottom of the pan. (Huh, that's right... I've only ever made with with regular pans. If you make it with non-stick, feel free to cut back on the oil a bit, yes?)

Once those ten minutes are up, time to enjoy! Scoop it out into a bowl and chow down, adding more soy sauce if you think it necessary (I often do, because hey, like I said, better safe than sorry.) This recipe should feed 2-3 people for a meal, or one person for a couple of meals. Pop your leftovers in some tupperware in the fridge; they microwave up a treat. You can even eat it cold, though I admit it is a bit tastier warmed up.

And there you have it--and entirely un-authentic yet very tasty recipe for you to customize and make your own! Because, after all, fried rice is one of the best recipes to customize--you can toss in whatever you want, or whatever you have lying around! Heck, you might be one of those random-legume types, and who am I to criticize! So long as you think it's tasty, go for it. I mean, you could even add piman (green peppers, similar to bell peppers) if you wanted to.

...yeeugh, piman.

This is Edo, signing out hoping that she hasn't gone too far off the cultural edge with this one...


Anonymous said...

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Edo said...

Well, I'm not honestly sure how I helped you, or what I helped you with, but I'm glad to be of service! :)