Believe me, once you have this down, you’ll realise it’s one of the best things in life… When that chopped spring onion hits the heat and combines its aroma with the oil and salty soy, it’s like nothing else.
A few years ago I was one of a handful of spectators (as you might expect) at a free BBC Grub Club cooking demonstration on the university campus designed to get lazy students cooking their own meals. I’d tried versions of egg-fried rice before, and they hadn’t turned out how I’d wanted. The first thing the chef added to the wok was the egg, I hadn’t tried it that way around before and this ended up being the solution for my own fried rice. Visits back to Bristol during university usually included a ‘Fungtion’ at Fung’s with old housemates Rupert and / or Matt (who also worked for many years at Fung’s). I would occasionally use his inside knowledge to steer me on the right path, and the secret to their great fried rice is soy, so I introduced this to my experimentation. The final touch to create the magic was the inclusion of spring onion added towards the end of the cooking, which I learned from the recipe in Ching’s book (given to me as a leaving present from my old job in Bristol).
As with all stir-fry type cooking you need to have all your ingredients prepared beforehand, because the technique requires short cooking time at a high heat. Finely chopped spring onion, eggs cracked into a cup or bowl, rice cooked and left to sit just as I’ve instructed before, therefore starting the rice cooking should be the first thing you do. I’ve developed a luxuriant habit of using lovely jasmine rice, it seems soft, thick and rounder than basmati, and has a very pure taste. Remember, no salt is needed in the cooking of jasmine rice.
Turn your hob to maximum heat, then add the oil and wait until you can see a little smoke. If the wok is hot enough there should be less problem with ingredients sticking; at the end of cooking egg-fried rice, my wok has almost self-cleaned. I aim to never wash my wok, and would recommend avoiding cooking curries and liquid-based dishes in it. I just take a clean tea towel and wipe it around, then return my wok to the top of the cupboard covered so that no dust sticks to the remaining oil.
Your wok should be hot enough that the egg immediately spatters and reacts loudly when tipped in to the wok, start stirring straight away then quickly add the rice before the egg has set, but don’t combine with the egg too vigorously, because it is nice to have some pieces of egg remaining once cooked.
I use light soy as I am more likely to get an even distribution of the flavour throughout the rice because the greater proportion of liquid gives me more to mix in, and more time before it dries out from the heat. Obviously reduce the amount if you are not using light soy. It will take you a few times before you work out how much soy you like, I favour 3 splashes, about 3 table spoons worth. Chop your spring onions finely and only cook them for a short amount of time, as their flavour quickly dissipates. I am always guilty of over-cooking them.
Tbsp vegetable oil
– wok on maximum heat until it begins to lightly smoke
– stir for a few seconds
½ cup of cooked jasmine rice
– stir until egg is cooked
2 tbsp soy / 3 tbsp light soy
– stir until moisture has evaporated
1-2 minced spring onions
– stir for 5-10 seconds, transfer rice to plate
Once again, this dish will be an accompaniment to my next recipe…