Leftover cold rice is one of the most useful items to have in the kitchen, as it can be turned into a meal or snack with the flavours of any Asian country. Cooked rice should not be left unrefrigerated.
If rice is being cooked specifically to make fried rice, one can ensure a good result by using slightly less water when steaming it. Turn it out of the pan as soon as it is cooked, spread out on a large baking tray or other suitable surface to cool, and hasten the cooling process by placing it near an open window or in the refrigerator. The longer it cools and firms, the better the results will be when it is fried. One of the simplest recipes for fried rice follows. Serves 2.
3 tablespoons peanut oil
4 cups cold cooked rice
2 tablespoons light soy sauce
6 spring onions (scallions), sliced diagonally
Heat a wok until very hot. Add oil and swirl to coat surface, then add the rice, toss and fry until grains are separate. Sprinkle with soy sauce and keep tossing to distribute evenly. Add sliced spring onions and keep tossing for a minute or two.
Vary the recipe by frying the following ingredients before adding rice.
For Chinese flavor: diced barbecued pork, roast pork, barbecued duck or lap cheong (Chinese sausage).
For Korean flavor: finely chopped garlic, thinly sliced beef. Add bean paste, black pepper, Korean soy sauce.
For Indonesian flavor: chopped raw prawns, chopped garlic and onion, small piece dried shrimp paste wrapped in foil and roasted. Garnish with cucumber and a fried egg. Serve with sweet chilli sauce.
For Thai flavor: Thai red curry paste, garlic, small prawns, flaked cooked crab meat, use fish sauce instead of soy and add sliced hot chillies and a splash of sweet chilli sauce.
Recipe excerpted from Encyclopedia of Asian Food by Charmaine Solomon (Periplus Editions, 1998)