Culinary history was changed forever when someone long ago in China introduced rice to wok! The humble steamed rice, tossed with seasoning (normally soy sauce) and oil, seared with the intense heat from the frying pan, transforms into a dish worthy of kings. There was even an episode of Iron Chef where the Japanese chef completed the rout of his challenger by frying rice with a dash of shrimp paste that won the judges over with its flavor.
While our post today is certainly not set in a competitive cook-off, fried rice on the menu is very much something to look forward to. To start with, fried rice is simply delicious. Secondly, it is a complete meal in itself which makes it perfect for lunch. Finally, it is quick and easy to prepare. Coupled with a bowl of clear soup, it is comfort food for our family. No wonder that as Ro-Taro gets ready to head out to college this fall, he has requested for mom to teach him how to prepare fried rice. It’s like the old saying about teaching a man to fish, with a twist we can say that “teach a child to fry rice and he will learn to feast for a lifetime”.
Cooking fried rice in a home setting is a piece of cake with the available utensils and ingredients. Almost any fresh or leftover meat and vegetables can be thrown in and the rice will taste good so long as the pan is hot and the grains of rice are separated and fluffy. In a dormitory setting, the challenge is with a limited budget, appliances, utensils, ingredients, and time. The dorm room may be equipped with a mini fridge, 3-cup mini rice-cooker, a deep fry pan, spatula, knife, simple plates and silverware, and a tote to transport these to the dorm kitchen. Basic ingredients include rice, soy sauce, salt, pepper, and dried spices.
Next is to check out the grocery store for suitable ingredients in small quantities. Small cans of sardines are great as they have a long shelf life and can be easily stored in the room. An entire can is perfect for a meal with no need to mess around with leftovers. A one-pound bag of frozen mixed vegetables can be stored in the freezer compartment of the mini fridge. Onions may be purchased singly or substituted with onion powder. Garlic may be omitted altogether.
Most days Ro-Taro will be eating at the campus cafeteria but when he feels the pangs of homesickness, he can always check out mom’s blog. In fact, I have created a Dorm Cooking tab, a sub-category of Misc in the drop-down menus above for Ro-Taro’s easy reference. There will be more fried rice and simple meal recipes complete with shopping guide in the days to come.
- 2 tbsp canola oil
- 1 small onion, peeled and chopped
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1 can (3.75oz/106g) sardines in hot sauce
- 1 cup frozen mixed vegetables
- 3 cups cooked white rice (preferably kept overnight)
- 2 tbsp soy sauce
- Salt and pepper
In a large non-stick fry pan, heat canola oil. Fry onions for about 3 minutes. Add garlic and fry for another minute.
Split open sardines with a fork. Remove bones. Drop sardines into the pan and fry for 2 minutes. Stir in frozen mixed vegetables and allow it cook for another 3 minutes.
Then add cooked rice. Give it a stir. Add soy sauce, remaining hot sauce from can, pepper, and salt (to taste). Stir to get everything well mixed and cook until rice is dry and fluffy. This will take 4 to 5 minutes.
Remove and serve immediately.
Enjoy…..and have a wonderful day!