This Friday I decided to cook dinner instead of eating out. Tonight was supposed to be Chinese, but I fancied home-cooked Chinese was good. So here I was working my way through three different recipes and only one hour before dinnertime.
Chinese fried rice is a very fascinating dish. No two ever tasted quite the same, in the Caribbean, from Barbados to Antigua or Trinidad. In the United States, Chinese fried rice in Florida was distinctly different from Chinese fried rice in New York City. Even the Canadians have their own twist to this popular dish.
I have never tried to make Chinese fried rice at home before, but I was determined to do it anyway. Especially for dinner tonight.
I picked out the common ingredients and then the ones I had to work with. My list went something like this.
1. Cooked basmati white rice, or jasmine?
2. Chopped yellow or green onions?
3. Frozen mixed vegetables or Asian Stir-Fry vegetables?
4. Boneless chicken or eggs?
5. Vegetable seasoning salt or Goya Sazoon?
First, I had to prepare the rice. This should be easy. I added two cups of basmati white rice, three cups of water and a touch of salt to the rice cooker and put it to go. Next, I chopped a mixture of green and yellow onions, the more the better, I figured.
The veggies were going to be tricky, as my search revealed only about a cup of frozen mixed vegetables in the freezer, definitely not enough. Frozen broccoli florets or fresh baby greens? I debated for only a moment and then settled for some of both. I could see already, this would be fun! I could hardly wait to really start cooking. I washed the baby greens and saved some for a vegetable salad, with sliced tomatoes and mini-sweet peppers.
It was a difficult decision, but I finally settled for vegetable fried rice, that is, fried rice with no eggs or chicken. In the background, the sound of panpipes floated through the air, not too soothing, but with just enough tempo to help my feet keep pace with my hands and my cook’s mind.
I pulled out the skillet and poured a little olive oil to cover the bottom, but not too much, just enough to make sure the rice would not stick to my new non-stick frying pan. With the dial on the stove set to 5.5, I was ready to cook up some fun.
The clock on the stove winked at me, almost mockingly. It was 5:55 PM and Robbie would be home in less than an hour.
First, the onions and then the tomatoes. I stirred and sautéed as per instructions and then added my blend of vegetables. The mixed vegetables were first, they are supposed to be in the recipe. Then the broccoli florets and of course, the mixed peppers. Mixed together, they looked good enough to eat, but how would it taste without any salt? I had to put a dash or two.
Lastly, the baby greens. Maybe I should have left those out. Too late! I realized, my salad was in the skillet. The instructions said to stir-fry until the vegetables were cooked, but still firm. The clock kept on changing. It was now 6:15 PM. Time for the rice. I had almost forgotten about that!
After adding rice, continue cooking for about ten minutes, mixing thoroughly until done.
This last instruction was the most difficult to follow. I stirred and added vegetable seasoning and cooked it some more. This time, I decided to do something right. I added both Mrs. Dash vegetable seasoning and the Goya Adobo with annatto. More olive oil and some more Goya Sazoon. Then it was done.
The exhaust fan was at maximum, and as such I did not hear the front door open and close. In fact, it wasn’t until I’d finished piling two plates full of my own brand of Chinese fried rice, did I realize that I had company. Robbie was smiling and sniffing the air with appreciation. For one moment, I almost lost my cool, which was not too difficult after laboring over the hot stove for over thirty minutes.
Then I licked my finger. I was totally surprised. This was definitely a different flavor of fried rice. I could get used to it. If only I could remember just how to do it again.
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