In a discussion on Facebook, I came across a comment about how unfriendly to vegetarians Chinese fried rice is. There are always bits of Chinese sausage, roast pork, shrimps and scrambled egg, wrote some girl. Not just a few people agreed with her. Oh, I thought, she’s talking about yang chow fried rice and all those who agreed thought the same way she did—as though there is only one Chinese fried rice. I said nothing though. The conversation didn’t take place on my wall and I didn’t want to hijack the discussion. Then, I cooked this shiitake fried rice and I do plan to post it as a reply in that conversation.
Blame it on the limited understanding of fried rice. Most of us know it only from what we’ve eaten in Chinese restaurants. What most don’t realize is that, historically, fried rice was designed by enterprising Chinese cooks to make good use of leftover food from the previous day’s meals. Cold rice, bits of meat and seafood, small amounts of various vegetables… all these go together in a wok to make a brand new meal. If there isn’t enough meat or seafood, beaten eggs are added not just for color but for more nutrition too. There is no exact formula. There is no explicit combination of ingredients.
So, yes, fried rice can be both meatless and eggless, like this shiitake fried rice, and it will still be Chinese-style fried rice if it is cooked as a stir fried rice dish.
- Peel the carrot and chop or cut into small cubes.
- Cut the celery into the same size as the carrot bits.
- Slice the scallions.
- Peel and mince the garlic.
- Discard the stalks of the shiitake; cut the caps into half-inch cubes.
- Heat the cooking oil in a wok or frying pan. Over high heat, stir fry the carrot, celery, scallions, garlic and mushrooms with a little salt and pepper.
- Add the rice, sprinkle in a bit more salt and pepper, and continue stir frying until the rice is heated through.
- Off the heat, drizzle in sesame seed oil, stir the shiitake fried rice and serve.