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When I was first married, I figured fried rice would be a relatively easy thing to prepare. I followed a Food Network recipe that resulted in a gummy, cilantro-twinged mess that didn't even remotely taste like the fried rice I can get at any Chinese take-out restaurant. Then I tried other recipes I found online, but it never quite got there until nearly ten years of experimenting and tinkering. This is the recipe I've settled on, and it's incredibly versatile and delicious. You can add any cooked meat you want, like pork, chicken, beef, or shrimp (for today's purposes, I used leftover pork tenderloin), and you can switch out the basic canned and frozen vegetables for any veggies you like. The keys are getting used to how you fry the rice, how you cook the eggs, and what sauce you throw on at the end. If you can master those basics, you won't need ten years of disappointment to figure out how to make fried rice that will rival your local take-out.
It is absolutely critical that you assemble the ingredients before cooking, because things move fast. Combine the ginger and garlic. Beat the eggs together with the white pepper. Wisk together the sesame oil, dry sherry, soy sauce, oyster-flavor sauce, and sambal. Make sure everything is within reach before you heat a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Though I am usually an advocate for cast-iron, DO NOT USE a cast-iron skillet. Trust me; you will regret it if you do.
Put oil in hot skillet and swirl to coat. Immediately add the garlic and ginger, being careful to avoid splatter (which will be pretty significant if you use jarred ingredients). Stir-fry for about fifteen seconds before adding in rice. Break it up with a flat, wooden spatula, stir together thoroughly, and then flatten the rice against the pan. Cook for at least five minutes, stirring as little as possible. You want the rice to fry to a barely visible light brown, which is easier said than done. If the bottom of the rice starts to blacken, lower the heat and stir, but if it looks totally white on the bottom, leave it alone until it browns.
Stir in meat, peas, carrots, corn, and green onions. Cook for another five minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent blackening.
Make a big well in the center of the rice and pour the eggs directly into it. Wait until the eggs begin to curdle, then scramble them gently until they pull away from the bottom of the pan. Stir everything together, when the scrambled eggs are just a little underdone.
Add the sauce and stir it all together. Turn off the heat and let the rice rest for five minutes. Serve with egg rolls, extra soy sauce, and some homemade sweet and sour sauce (1/2 cup water, 1/2 cup sugar, 1/4 white vinegar, and 1 tbsp of ketchup cooked to boiling, thickened with cornstarch and water), if you want. Compare it to your favorite take-out fried rice and be amazed.
-e. magill 5/18/2016
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