Sunday, May 9, 2010

1950's ish Chicken Fried Rice

You asked for pictures, so of course the next thing I made had to be one of the most visually unattractive things ever. (You're only getting one picture of this bad boy, multiple angles do not improve things.) Despite its humdrum appearance, this is one tasty dish, especially considering its relatively humble ingredients.

For those that haven't heard, I'm moving in three weeks. Pair that with a cross continent wedding and you have a kitchen dilemma. How to make food without buying more of it?

Answer, kick it 1950s style.

My mother has a collection of recipes that can only be described as Weight Watchers meets Betty Crocker (sorry mom). They all center around relatively lean meats, little to no fresh ingredients and most of the time some weird sauce. Prime example, Chicken Ala King. A totally strange concoction of jarred peppers, canned mushrooms, carnation milk sauce and chicken over white bread. (One day I'll get around to reworking this mess of a recipe.) Despite my snobby foodie disdain, once in a while I get a craving for my mom's food or I run out of fresh ingredients.

This was a case of both. My mom's chicken fried rice in no way resembles actual Chinese food. It's basically chicken and rice doused with some soy sauce. Despite this, it's actually craveable, probably because of the high salt content. However, it has always lacked that special something. A couple of months ago I figured out what that something was. Fish sauce! Did you not catch my excitement? I'll say it again, FISH SAUCE!!! Yes people, fish sauce is a wonderful thing. A thing I've largely ignored, thanks to two factors.

One, my delinquent roommate. Despite living with me for 5 whole years and being Vietnamese, my roommate never introduced me to fish sauce. Now, if I knew about fish sauce, I would be shouting its wonders to the rooftops. Since I am me, I'm already telling you about fish sauce. But my roommate, who shall remain nameless (but not blameless), kept this secret to herself for 5 whole years. All the while, cooking up such boring things as BBQ wings. Unforgivable!

The other factor in my untimely discovery of fish sauce, the Travel Channel. The bastards had the nerve to show me how fish sauce is made. Now don't get me wrong. It's delicious and I put it on everything. I'm convinced it might even make my flip flops taste better. But trust me, you do not want to know how it's made. You just don't. It's like sausage, ignorance is delicious. Suffice it to say, fish sauce kicks this pantry recipe up a notch. Giving it that je ne sais quois, I was looking for.

1950's ish Chicken Fried Rice

You will need:
Largish frying Pan
Cup of uncooked rice
Chicken breast
Large Onion chopped
Some eggs
Fish Sauce
Soy Sauce

*Ingredient amounts are vague on purpose.

1.) Cook up rice, however you know how. I use my handy dandy rice cooker and if you don't have one (Do you enjoy making your life harder?) just follow these instructions.

2.) Sauté chicken in oil. I generally put in a whole chicken breast and break it up as it browns. When your chicken is about half way cooked, thrown in the onion. You want the onion to get nice and caramelized and the chicken to get a nice crust. This dish has relatively few ingredients, so you have to milk the hell out of them to get some flavor.

3.) Once the chicken and the onion are cooked move them over or take them out of the pan. Then throw in your eggs and scramble them.

4.) Once the egg is finished cooking up, add in the rice, chicken, and onion. Dribble with a little soy sauce and a little fish oil. A little goes a long way, so add sparingly.Don't just souse everything. You're adding flavor, not putting out a fire.

5.) Season with a little salt (remember soy sauce and fish sauce are already salty) and freshly ground pepper. Sometimes I even throw in a little granulated or fresh garlic.

*As mentioned, this is a, "Holy hell, I have nothing in the pantry!" recipe. However, you could make this more tasty by adding any combination of the following:
  • Any veggies you have lying around, I'm partial to asparagus.
  • Fresh scallions
  • Fresh minced garlic and/or ginger
  • Bok choy or green cabbage
  • Cooking the rice in chicken broth
  • A different protein, this would be divine with shrimp.
  • Bean sprouts


  1. Look, lady, you thought my banh mi (Vietnamese hoagies) smelled like ass, so there was no way I would've ever thought you could handle nuoc mam (fish sauce). Not my fault.

  2. NOW you do. But when I had them in our mini fridge in college I distinctly remember your words: "I feel sorry for whoever has to be near the person who eats this."

    You just weren't ready back then. I forgive you.