The best fried rice I ever tasted was made by Chinese cookbook author Grace Young, in a cooking class she taught. Up to that time I had only eaten restaurant takeout fried rice and I didn’t like it very much. It was very salty, mushy, and packed with rubbery chicken.
Her fried rice was a different story. It was light, elegant, lightly seasoned and filled with fluffy eggs and fresh ingredients.
Fried rice is a one-pan marvel that can be adapted to include vegetables, seafood, poultry, meat or whatever you have in your refrigerator. It can be served on its own or as part of a Chinese meal.
It’s a perfect dish to make when you have leftover rice, but the rice can be made in the morning or day ahead. Warm rice is too moist and soft, resulting in gummy fried rice.
To prevent clumping, Young recommends spreading the cooked rice on a baking sheet, fluffing it with a fork, and refrigerating it until ready to stir-fry.
Young also advises her students to rinse whatever rice is chosen (long grain, jasmine, brown, or glutinous) in cold water several times before cooking.
Fried rice comes together in 15 minutes or so if all ingredients are measured and prepped before you heat the wok.
Carole Kotkin is manager of the Ocean Reef Club cooking school.
Crabmeat Fried Rice
Yield: Serves 3 as a main course or 4 as part of a multi-course meal.
This recipe is adapted from “Stir-Frying to the Sky’s Edge by Grace Young,” Simon and Schuster Publishers ($35).
Cakebread Cellars Napa Valley Sauvignon Blanc 2018 (SRP: $29.99) adds complementary fruity flavors and bright acidity to this recipe. Plus, it stands up to the scrambled eggs in the fried rice and pairs well with the crabmeat.
Young writes, “Crabmeat Fried Rice is both light and rich, a decadent main course or an elegant side dish for any meal. My fishmonger sells three different brands of lump crabmeat and each varies in how much cartilage remains in the meat. I choose the brand that has the least and then I check the crabmeat carefully by hand. Finding a piece of cartilage will ruin the pleasure of this scrumptious rice.”
2 tablespoon peanut or vegetable oil
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 cup ¼-inch diced carrot
4 cups cold cooked rice
1 cup diced ripe tomato
1 cup chopped scallions
1 large egg, lightly beaten
¾ teaspoons salt
¼ teaspoon ground white pepper
8 ounces lump crab meat, picked over to remove cartilage (1 1/2 cups)
1/3 cup chopped cilantro
Heat a 14-inch flat-bottomed wok over high heat until a bead of water vaporizes within 1 to 2 seconds of contact. Swirl in the oil, add the garlic, then, using a metal spatula, stir-fry 10 seconds or until the garlic is fragrant. Add the carrots and stir-fry 1 minute or until the carrots begin to brown. Add the rice and stir-fry 1 to 2 minutes, breaking up the rice with the spatula until it is heated through. Add the tomatoes, scallions, egg, and sprinkle on the salt and pepper, and stir-fry about 1 minute or until the egg is just set. Add the crabmeat and cilantro and stir-fry 30 seconds or until just heated through.