In this solo cooking adventure, Gary attempts to adapt one of his favorite noodle dishes to rice.
One night after a few drinks at my favorite bar in New York City, I ended up stumbling over to Chinatown and ordering the excellent Singapore Chow Mein at Noodletown. After taking it home and quickly devouring it (it was snowpocalypse that day so it’s understandable I could finish an entire order of noodles on my own), I thought it was something I should learn to make for myself. Now just because I thought it doesn’t mean I actually followed through on it, at least not immediately.
A few weeks later, after an ill-fated attempt at making fried rice during our Bittman Bonanza, my thoughts turned to making a perfect fried rice (crisp rice and savory flavors). While thinking about what to put in my fried rice, the idea came to me all of a sudden that I should make Singapore Chow Mein but with rice instead. I couldn’t find any Singapore Fried Rice recipes (at least those comparable to what I sought to make) on the Internet so I’d have to start with one for noodles and attempt to adapt it for rice.
So, not to sound like a shill, but I once again turned to a Rasa Malaysia recipe for some guidance. Here recipe for Singapore Fried Rice Noodles had what I needed in order to turn out the same curry flavor I wanted for the rice. After that, it was a simple matter of deciding what I wanted to add in order to make my fried rice really pop. I went with some staple – eggs, roast pork, shrimp, and a bag of frozen mixed vegetables.
When making the curry sauce, I eliminated the stock from the original recipe, choosing instead to only use the soy sauce as the liquid base. The worst thing you can do to your fried rice is to add so much liquid that the rice no longer jumps off the pan. Once that was done, I set it aside as I worked to cook and re-heat all the other add-ins for the fried rice, making sure not to cook the eggs and shrimp all the way to done since they’d spend some more time in the pan with the rice later.
With just about all the constituent parts cooked, it was time to put it all together. First to go into the ripping hot pan was the leftover rice, straight from the fridge. Once the grains separated and it was warm, everything else went into the pan in rapid succession. After that, all that was left was to add the curry sauce, stir (or a few quick flips of the pan) to combine, and wait for the rice to start jumping off the pan. Once that happened, it was a quick trip onto my plate and then into my stomach. It was a great meal.
Once I finished eating my plate of fried rice, I decided to be a good friend and make a vegetarian version for Kate. Obviously, I omitted the roast pork and shrimp, and used the bulk of the eggs and vegetables for her serving so it’d still be substantial. A good friend also makes sure it’s worth serving so I gave it a try and, truth be told, the vegetarian version was just as good as the meatier one. Really, it comes down to the depth of flavor that cooking the dry curry powder with the garlic and ginger imparted on the rice. Once you have that, it doesn’t really matter so much what you add to it.
Singapore Fried Rice
(Adapted from Rasa Malaysia)
- 4 cups leftover rice
- 1 lb roast pork, diced
- 1 lb shrimp, cut into bite sized pieces
- 2 eggs
- 1 lb frozen mixed vegetables
- 3 tbsp Madras curry powder
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 tbsp ginger, minced
- 4 tbsp soy sauce
- 4 tsp sugar
- 2 tbsp vegetable or canola oil
- To make the curry sauce, heat the oil in a pan over medium heat. Add the curry powder, the ginger, and the minced garlic, and saute until fragrant. Add the soy sauce and sugar. Stir to combine and then cover and cook for 3 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.
- For the eggs, start by cooking them in the pan, letting them set for a few seconds before quickly scrambling them. Let them cook for a few seconds and then remove from the pan just short of being cooked all the way through. The eggs (whites and yolks) should still be somewhat runny.
- The same goes for the shrimp – cook them until they’re mostly cooked and set aside.
- Cook the roast pork in a pan until they start to brown a bit. Remove and set aside.
- Cook the frozen mixed vegetables in a pan until they’re completely thawed and warmed through. Again, remove and set aside.
- To bring the fried rice together, start by cooking the leftover rice in a pan liberally coated with cooking oil. When it’s warm, add the roast pork, shrimp, the vegetables, and the eggs, stirring to combine. Add the curry sauce, stirring to evenly distribute the sauce among the fried rice. Cook for a few minutes, ensuring that the sauce is fully absorbed by the rice, until the rice begins to crisp a little. Remove from heat and serve.