Sunday, 19 July 2009

Grandmother's Chicken Fried Rice

T is a big fan of Chinese food, and if I'm not around at the weekend, he'll often treat himself to a take away. He'd watched a few TV shows about Chinese food, but didn't really have the know-how to cook it at home beyond basic stir-fries. When I saw Chinese Food Made Easy on special offer, I picked up a copy for T. (I am angling for a Girlfriend-of-the-Year Award...)

Even though we don't move to our new flat together (eeek!) until September, already we've begun the process of sorting through our possessions and getting rid of things. Yesterday was the turn of my old PC (I'm a Mac-girl now) so T had spent the day dismantling it and adding the best bits on to his PC to create an uber-PC. I'd spent the day clearing up the casing and getting rid of all the dust that had collected in it over the years! We decided to start off the book with Grandmother's Chicken Fried Rice, as we just wanted something fairly straightforward and quick to have for dinner after a busy day. T also gets this dish a fair bit from the take-away, so he was interested to see how it compared.

We had most of the ingredients already, as I had some rice wine (I decided that Japanese is close enough to Chinese in this case) from making sushi ages ago, so all that was required was a quick trip to the Chinese supermarket I recently discovered to get some dried shiitakes* and some glutinous rice.

As I chopped up the shallots, and grated the ginger, I soaked the mushrooms and cooked the rice. T's flat doesn't have scales, so I had to guess how much rice and how much water to use. After about 10 minutes, there was a horrible burning smell and a rice pancake burnt on the bottom of the pan! Luckily as it was non-stick it just flopped out in one lump straight in to the bin. The second attempt I used a lot more water and a lower heat. This one didn't burn on to the pan, but was very glutinous indeed! It stuck together in a big ball and it was only once I started stir-frying it that it began to separate into the grains.

Second attempt at glutinous rice

After I'd managed to cook the rice, the rest of the recipe was very easy and simple. After briefly frying the garlic, shallots and dried shiitakes, diced chicken was added. Then five spice and rice wine, followed by dark soy sauce. Finally, the rice and peanuts are added, warmed through, and then served seasoned with light soy sauce, toasted sesame oil and spring onion.

Grandmother's Chicken Fried Rice

The dish was really tasty, and I liked how the crunchy peanuts contrasted with the soft chicken and rubbery mushrooms. My main criticism of this dish was the lack of vegetables. Normally I would put in lots of veg and only 1 chicken breast, but I used 2 breasts for this. It felt very meat heavy, I guess I have got used to a less meaty diet lately. The book does have a large vegetarian section, and it seems that a lot of the dishes are meant to be served in conjunction with each other, so if I was to make this again I'd make a bit less and serve a veggie side dish too.

*I don't know why the recipe specifies dried shiitakes over fresh ones, perhaps it is because fresh ones aren't that widely available in parts of the UK? Anyone got a better suggestions?


Lizzie said...

Dried shiitake mushrooms are much stronger in flavour than fresh, many Chinese recipes use it. I have a few on my blog:

I am useless at cooking rice on the hob; if you're going to be doing lots of Chinese cooking, then I would definitely recommend a rice cooker.

Fuschia Dunlop's 'Sichuan Cookery' is one of my favourite cookbooks, if you like spicy food. I'm not much of a fan of Ching...

Jenny said...

Ahhh, that makes much more sense! And that tofu looks yummy.

I quite like a bit of spice, so will have to look out for the Fuchsia Dunlop book. Chinese Made Easy is a bit simplistic and Anglo-fied in places, but as an absolute beginner when it comes to Chinese food, that is also reassuring at this stage!

Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella said...

Intersting use of peanuts! I love the sound of this dish and any grandma's recipe has to be good as far as I'm concerned :)