No matter where I am in the world, be it Japan, the US, or wherever Khoa and I happen to roam, I always want to eat rice. Don’t get me wrong, I love my bread, but there’s something about rice that is so wonderful. In the words of the late-comedian Mitch Hedberg, “Rice is great if you’re hungry and want two thousand of something.” But there’s something more to eating rice than the fact that you’re managing to cram fifty things in your mouth at one time. I remember when I was a kid, no matter what meal we were having, we always ate rice with it, or at least had it on the table as an option. Meatloaf, rice. Spaghetti, rice. Chicken pot pie, rice. We never even had asian or asian-style dishes when I was growing up, but nonetheless, rice, the asian staple, was ever-present. It might have been my picky uncle’s incessant whining about wanting rice at every meal, but those memories of the fluffy white stuff have shaped my palate. What’s more, as a child, white rice was always accompanied by either butter or ketchup. I know what you’re thinking, ewww…but don’t knock it until you try it. I’ve also recently discovered the joy of rice and shredded cheese. Give it a try!
Now that we’re in Japan, Khoa and I eat rice pretty much every day. Khoa has been enjoying the traditional Japanese breakfast, rice and miso soup, for a few months now. Dinner is usually rice and stir-fried vegetables or some other variation. Our go-to dinner (and by our, I mean Khoa’s since he does the cooking :P) is Cha-han, or fried rice.
Here’s Khoa’s recipe for a really delicious and easy fried rice:
First, prepare the sauce and set aside:
- 1 Tbs. soy sauce
- 1 Tbs. ponzu sauce
- 1/4 tsp. rice wine vinegar
- 1/2 tsp. mirin (Japanese rice wine)
- 2 Tbs. water
- Sriracha (hot chili sauce) to taste
Saute the following in a big saute pan with a few tablespoons of oil:
- Onions (medium diced)
- Carrots (medium-sized chunks)
- Mushrooms (Shiitake if you have them)
- Asparagus (thinly sliced)
- One small tomato (diced)
- 4 cloves of garlic
- 1.5 cm block of ginger (finely diced)
- Half of the sauce
Put the sauteed vegetables into a separate bowl and put 2 cups of cooked rice into the pan you used for the veggies (Khoa likes to use a mixture of half brown and half white rice. You really can’t taste the difference once the cha-han is completed and it’s healthier). Add the other half of the sauce to the rice and mix (make sure to be gentle while mixing the rice. If you stir it too vigorously, you’ll have a mushy mess on your hands). Crack two eggs over the rice and gently stir them together in the pan. After the eggs are cooked, return the sauteed vegetables to the pan. Mix together and serve.
You might be thinking that tomato and fried rice doesn’t go together, but since you’re only adding one, it’s just enough to add a bit of freshness and brighten up the dish.
Khoa sometimes adds in some chicken or tofu, depending on his mood. This cha-han is a spicy, tangy bowl of awesome. Instead of finely chopping and dicing the vegetables, Khoa likes to leave them in medium-size chunks and add more veggies than you normally would. It’s a heartier, healthier version of the Japanese food staple.
Do any of you make fried rice? What do you add to yours? Let us know in the comment section below.