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Friday, December 28, 2012

Fried Rice with Salted Fish and Chicken 鹹魚雞粒炒飯

My first time having this fried rice with salted fish and chicken was just a little less than two years back, shortly after I moved here. It was then when I learned that this is a common and a very much sought-after one indeed, commonly served in Chinese restaurants here. And at some points I started wondering if it simply is a specialty made popular here or has it all the while been an option that I might have overlooked during the many years of dining out in Malaysia, one of which I have yet to clarify to-date. As simple as it seems and sounds, this is one that I soon found myself personally labeling it as a hidden gem among the many other items in a typical extensive menu in any Chinese restaurants. 

As humble as it may get, making this dish shine really does need not more than just a few ingredients. Salted fish, once a poor man's food and obviously no longer so these days, is probably the very key to defining this fried rice giving it its unique pungency. Preserved over time, a small piece really does go a long way with its salty nature and yet surprisingly not overpoweringly so when incorporated into the dish - one that you either really adore or simply hate. A good plate of this rice will be one that comes with a balance of all - saltiness from the salted fish of a good quality but not to overwhelming in general, sweetness from the bits of chicken and peas, refreshing crunchiness from the shreds of lettuces leaves complete with the natural aroma coming from the eggs. If you are one that does not particularly despise the salted fish, then this is one that you have to try for yourself to see how appetizing this really can be and how it may even easily be the one that wins your heart hands down thereon.

Fried Rice with Salted Fish and Chicken 鹹魚雞粒炒飯
Serves 3-4
3 cups cooked brown jasmine rice (or any other types of rice)
1½ chicken breast, skinned and any visible fat trimmed, diced
1½ pc salted fish (each piece measures about 3"), bones removed and cut into small pieces (I used salted mackerel fish 梅香咸鱼) 
1 cup frozen green peas, thawed
1/4 iceberg lettuce, finely shredded 
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/2" ginger, skinned and thickly sliced
*6 eggs, beaten with a few dashes of white pepper powder and 1½ tsps light soy sauce
light soy sauce to taste
a dash or two of white pepper powder 
3½ tbsps cooking oil 
* Egg yolks to be adjusted according to personal preference. I retained half making this, discarding the rest.

Chicken marinade 
a dash or two white pepper powder
2 tsps light soy sauce 
1 tsp Shaoxing wine
1 tsp corn starch 

1. Have the diced chicken marinated with the marinade in advance. Set aside or keep refrigerated until cooking time.
2. Heat up a non-stick frying pan with 1/2 tbsp cooking oil. Once heated, add in the beaten eggs and let set for a few seconds. Stir and continue folding and breaking regularly until they are all set looking brownish. Set the scrambled eggs aside.
3. In a skillet, heat a tbsp of cooking oil over high heat. Add in the diced chicken and stir fry until their color changes appearing just done. Dish out and set aside.
4. Heat up the wok with the remaining cooking oil. Once well heated, add in the garlic and ginger and stir fry until fragrant. Add in the salted fish pieces next, stirring often to break them down. 
5. Bring in the rice and stir regularly to make sure that they are heated right to the core, breaking down any clumps of rice in the process. Pushing the contents in the wok to one side, reintroduce the diced chicken and the green peas into the wok. Stir for a moment before mixing them up with the rice. 
6. Add in a dash or two of white pepper powder and drizzle in the light soy slowly around the inner rim of the wok. Keep stirring for a minute or two to mix and incorporate well with the rest.
7. Add in the shredded lettuce next followed by the scrambled eggs. Mix well and stir for another minute.
8. Remove from heat, portion out and serve warm.

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