I am not really a huge fan of the Fried rice served at parties because it is not cooked properly a lot of the time. I have been to countless parties and the fried rice served just leaves a nasty taste in my mouth. Mass produced Fried rice is not the way to go. I know everyone says their mum is the best cook ever, so I am going to beat the table and announce that my mother makes the best Fried rice ever. Unlike the last post, this is not “party” Fried rice because party fried rice I have never been able to enjoy that much, but this is Mummy’s Fried rice. Why don’t I like party Fried rice? Here are my foodie peeves:
- The colour – oh my gosh, some of them just have the colour of sick. At other times it is Martian green and the next colour on the spectrum, greenish brown. Ugh!!!
- The vegetables – gosh where do I start from? I know this is due to the volume that is cooked so I shouldn’t expect the vegetables to be perfect, but a soggy mess is so not nice. Sometimes the vegetables are cut so tiny, you search for them on your plate. At other times the vegetables taste rancid. I will not eat party fried rice that contains shrimp. Nah, nah, food poisoning, many times bitten, I have learnt my lesson. With some, the vegetables have no symmetry with the rice, as if you are eating two different dishes. On to my next foodie peeve
- The taste – not only do the vegetables taste bland, the rice usually has a curry powder overload just doesn’t sit well with my taste buds, add that with dried thyme (which should only be used sparingly) you have this spice war that doesn’t even smell great.
Overall, party fried rice doesn’t hold a candle to its Jollof rice cousin and I feel it should not be served at parties. Caterers should expand their menu repertoire and think of other rice dishes. If you are having a very small party (and we all know that there is no such thing in 9ja, lol) you can serve fried rice. To cook it properly you should not be serving it to more than 20 – 25 people in my opinion because to properly cook fried rice you need to make it in batches that can feed 7 – 8 people. If you have to do it more than 3 times it will wear you out. As it is aptly named, you fry the rice. The vegetables cooked with fried rice cannot withstand the kind of heat that is needed to cook rice in bulk for a big party. Look out for a Chinese recipe for Fried rice and you will understand what I mean. I will be posting my recipe for King Prawn Fried rice very soon.
So, today I am going to be sharing with you Mum’s recipe for Fried rice. Simple, very clean on your palate and deeeeeelicious.
You will need
Chicken stock – jollof rice is full bodied enough to handle strong beef stock. For fried rice, something lighter, more delicate is needed and also fattier, so chicken stock is just perfect
Long grain rice
Cooked Liver or kidney
Green beans – runner beans
Ata Rodo – scotch bonnet/habanero pepper
Spring onions – my own little deviation from mummy’s recipe
Her recipe can be summed up in one sentence – Curried rice boiled separately, combined with fried mixed vegetables and fried altogether. Simple. You will soon understand why this can’t work if you are going to be serving it for a very large party.
I have updated this post, with more hints from Mummy and step by step pictures of the preparation. Click HERE
1. You have quite a lot to do so chop all the veggies first and set aside. As for the Ata Rodo (scotch bonnet/habanero pepper) chop finely. Mummy uses Ata rodo to provide some heat.
2. Season and boil the chicken with salt, seasoning cubes, curry, dried thyme, chopped onions. To create stock from chicken, don’t make the mistake of using a lot of water at the beginning. You need 1 cup of water at the start, to allow the chicken juices and oils to leach out and cook the chicken which intensifies the flavour and creates a very rich stock. Decant this initial stock and then add 2 – 3 cups of water, re-season all over again as with the first sentence to get a more diluted stock.
2. Just as with my recipe for party Jollof rice, you have to pre-boil the rice. The procedure for doing that is described HERE.
3. While the rice is pre-boiling, combine the initial stock that was decanted with the latter stock in a pot. This should give you a brown stock with a green hue. You should also see the oil floating on the top. As soon as you have washed the al dente rice, pour it into the pot, stir and add water to just about cover the rice. Stir and add salt or seasoning cubes if necessary. Let this cook till most of the stock is dry. The rice should still feel slippery though, so watch it closely. This step basically creates Curried Rice.
Now to frying the veggies. There is a system to this mummy says, and you start based on the density of the ingredients. Carrots are pretty firm and they take longer to cook, shrimp cooks in minutes, peas cook in seconds and lose their shape when over cooked, green beans cook for longer and still retain their shape (but cook them too long and the colour changes to a yucky brown), the liver/kidney have already been cooked. So, you start based on what cooks the longest and you end with what cooks the shortest.
4. In a large well coated pot that will not burn (aluminium or stainless steel), heat up a cooking spoon of olive oil, stir in 1/2 a teaspoon of curry, white pepper and dried thyme. Dooney’s Kitchen Tip: frying spices intensifies the flavour. Add the chopped carrots and green beans. Shake the pan instead of tossing with a spoon which will squash the ingredients. Let this fry for a minute or 2, then add the chopped liver, chopped salad onions and ata rodo. Let this fry for another minute, then add the raw shrimp, a pinch of salt and half a seasoning cube. Dooney’s Kitchen Tip: This is the reason why I love mummy’s fried rice. She seasons the vegetables, so when you bite into it, you don’t get a bland taste. You add the salt and seasoning cube at this point because the ingredients you have fried previously will be soft enough to absorb it. Then you add the peas to finish off.
Now you have Curried Rice and Fried Mixed veg, it is time to create a beautiful union.
5. Using another pot – you must be thinking, ANOTHER pot? Lol. Dunni are you going to do the dishes for me? Lol. Take scoops of the curried rice and the fried veg in a ratio of 3:1 and fry till it properly combines. Decant into a big bowl or a pot. Make another batch. If you are making this for a small party in your home, to save time, double or triple this ratio. Don’t go more than triple though. Make as many batches, until you have completely exhausted both the rice and the mixed veg.
6. You will now be left with a thick sludge of oil in the pot you fried the mixed veg in. Pour over the remnant oil on the fried rice, make a final stir and turn the heat down to very low. Cover the pot and let this all steam for 3 – 5 minutes, and you are done…..
Dooney’s Kitchen Extra Tip
Do not boil the firm vegetables in water. Not only do you lose some vitamins (which means you are eating chaff), boiling mans you have no chance to properly season the veggies and you create no harmony with the seasoned curried rice.
Staying with the party mood. Look out for my recipes for Dodo gizzard, assorted meat pepper soup, tossing grilled meats in tomato sauce, peppered gizzard and hosting tips for your next party.