I love fried rice. I bonded with one of my dearest friends over fried rice. The first time we met was at a bar: I walked up to her and re-braided her hair, she was my boyfriend-at-the-time’s friend and earlier in the evening I had instructed him – at his request – on how to plait a fish tail braid over the phone. When I got there I was like, ‘nope’, and immediately fixed it. Later on that evening we ended up at China Bar eating their amazing fried rice and had a love-in over how much we both loved said fried rice. And dumplings, we’re also big fans of dumplings.
The fried rice I make at home is never quite as good as the fried rice we ate that time, and it’s actually never been that good again any where, even at China Bar. I dream about that fried rice. Perhaps it was the fact that it was 3am and I’d had a loooong day and no dinner. But I actually think it was just cooked in a very well seasoned wok and that’s a big part of the secret that I haven’t quite mastered at home. And the fact that the person making it was a professional chef. But! I have now mastered creating those light individual grains of rice and not making it a soggy mess. Yay for me! I find this way easier to do with basmati rice, by not adding any wet seasoning like soy and buy using rice that’s been allowed to dry out in the fridge a little after cooking.
I love to just lightly flavour my fried rice and let a few key ingredients shine. This rendition is a bit of an ode to spring as it’s filled with spring greens people might have in their garden right now – broad beans and spinach. I’ve paired them with bacon, which I do realise isn’t a health food. Cool your jets. That said it imparts a great smokey flavour and I would highly recommend buying a good quality nitrate and nasty additive free, free range variety. My local supermarket stocks some great options, including organic varieties. You could keep it vegetarian though and replace the bacon with a few teaspoons of your preferred oil.
I’ve specified streaky bacon for this recipe as the bacon is playing the part of providing the oil and the salt for the dish. This way you get loads of flavour. If you’re using a nitrate free bacon it may not taste as salty as the bacon you’re used to, therefore make sure you taste and adjust seasoning before serving. If you’re like me and add salt when you’re cooking your rice you might not need to add salt but we all have different flavour preferences. Just don’t be heavy handed with it! Be as heavy handed as you like with that white pepper as it adds a great savoury flavour.
Serves 2, generously
4 x rashers of streaky bacon (free range and nitrate free), diced
1 tbs ginger, greshly grated
1 tbs coriander stalk and root
2 cups cooked and cooled brown basmati rice
1 egg, lightly whisked
1/2 tsp fish sauce
1/2 cup spirng onion, finely sliced
4 cups spinach, roughly chopped
1 cup, blanched and double podded broad beans (see notes)
1 tsp white pepper
salt to taste
chilli flakes, coriander leaves and extra spring onion to serve
Place a large wok or heavy based non stick fry pan on medium high heat.
Mix the fish sauce and egg together.
Once hot add the bacon and fry until just turning golden, push to the side and add the egg. Swirl so it thinly coats the pan. cook until just set and remove from the pan, finely slice then roughly chop and set aside.
Add a little olvie oil if your bacon didn’t release much fat and then add the rice, ginger, garlic and coriander and toss to mix together with the bacon. Keep cook, moving around the pan occasionally, for a few minutes or until the rice is starting to crisp up.
Add the spinach and broad beans and toss to mix through. Cook for a minute or too or until the spinach has wilted. Add the egg, toss. Season with the white pepper and then taste, adding salt a generous pinch at a time.
Serve with extra white pepper, coriander leaves, spring onion and chilli flakes.
Notes: Double podding broad beans: First remove them from their large pods then place in boiling water for a couple of minute. Drain and pop out of their pail green shells – this reveals the bright green sweet inner pod that you want for this dish.