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Special fried rice, every so often named Yangchow fried rice, is virtually a feast in itself. This is a very popular Chinese-style wok fried rice dish in many Chinese restaurants all over the world. Yangchow fried rice is one of the most important and most widespread Chinese cuisine. Normally, either long grain white rice or fragrant rice is used in this dish. For my gluten free version of this special fried rice, I am using brown rice which has a distinctive nutty flavour and I have made this dish soy free as well.
Ingredients vary according to the chef’s preferences, but typical staple ingredients are cooked rice, prawns, barbecue pork (char siu) or Chinese sausage (Lap Cheong), spring onions (scallions) and vegetables like peas, carrots, corns are used, plus eggs. In my gluten free special fried brown rice, I am using minced chicken, Plumrose gluten free shoulder ham, peas and spring onions. There are two ways of cooking the eggs, one method is to fry the beaten eggs into an omelette and thinly cut it into strips and serve as garnish. Another method is to scramble the beaten eggs, then add and mix in with the rice during the last stage of cooking. I am using the first method of cooking the eggs, just so that it is easier for anyone with egg allergy to exclude eggs from the dish.
Yangzhou fried rice’s original recipe was created as far back as 589 – 618 A.D., during the Sui dynasty. It has its origins in the city of Yangzhou, eastern Jiangsu province in China. This recipe was created by Qing China’s Yi Bingshou in 1754 – 1815 and named Yangzhou fried rice because Yi was formally the provincial magistrate of Yangzhou.
Brown rice is not only low Glycemic Index (GI), it also has many nutritional benefits. The side hulls and brans are rich in proteins, manganese, thiamine, potassium, calcium, magnesium and fiber. It is also rich in selenium, reducing risks of cancer, heart disease and arthritis. Brown rice is also excellent for weight management due to its high fiber content, making you feel fully by consuming smaller amount of rice. The most astonishing fact is that brown rice is very rich in antioxidant, it can be considered highly nutritious as having the same ranking as many superfoods like strawberries, berries, kale and other types of fruits and vegetables. Compared to white rice, it requires shorter cooking times and is more digestible. White rice looks better than brown rice as it has been heavily refined, removing all the essential nutrients. Eventhough manufacturers enrich white rice with artificial enrichments in the form of artificial vitamins and iron, it still does not adequately provide for the smallest nutritional standards required for each serving of food.
Special Fried Brown Rice (Yangchow Fried Rice)
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- 6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1kg skinless chicken breasts or thighs, trimmed and minced
- 500g frozen baby peas
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 5 spring onions thinly sliced into 1cm lengthwise
- 2 tablespoons pale or medium dry sherry
- 4 cups brown rice
- 1 canned gluten free shoulder ham or leg ham 340g thinly sliced (Plumrose)
- 1 teaspoon of salt
For the Marinade:
- 1 teaspoon of salt
- 1 tablespoon of pale or medium dry sherry
- 1 ½ teaspoons gluten free corn (maize) starch
- 1 teaspoon of ground white pepper
For the Omelette:
- Extra virgin olive oil for pan frying
- 8 extra-large free-range eggs
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon ground white pepper
- Wash the brown rice and cook in an electric rice cooker by adding number of cups of water specified by the electric cooker. Rice should be just cooked and not wet. Keep warm in the rice cooker.
- Pre-heat fan force oven to 160C or 320F. Grill the shoulder ham or leg ham pieces in the oven for around 20 minutes or until brown and crispy on both sides. Cut into 1 to 2 cm pieces with a kitchen scissor.
- Combine chicken with marinade in a large bowl and mix well.
For the omelette:
- Crack all the eggs into a medium bowl, add the salt and ground white pepper. Beat all the eggs well with a fork.
- Heat up a medium non-stick frying pan with some extra virgin olive oil on medium to high heat. Add half of the beaten eggs mixture into the frying pan, turn the heat to medium. Move the frying pan around to distribute the egg evenly, cook for about 2 to 3 minutes or until the bottom of the omelette turn slight brown. Turn the omelette around and cook for roughly the same time. Remove omelette onto a plate. Covering the plate to keep warm. Repeat with remaining egg mixture by adding a bit more extra virgin olive oil. Cut into thin strips.
For the Fried Brown Rice:
- Heat up a large wok with 3 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil, stir-frying and separating the minced chicken on medium to high heat until no longer pink. Remove from wok and set aside. Clean wok with kitchen paper towel.
- Heat up another 3 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil and stir-fry the garlic on low heat until lightly golden. Then add the peas, spring onions and pale or medium dry sherry and stir-fry for 2 minutes. Return the chicken to the wok.
- Add the steamed brown rice in step 1 and the shoulder or leg ham pieces into the wok, toss and combine well until the rice is heated through.
- Add the omelette to the top of the fried brown rice and serve.
1. You can use small prawns, minced pork or barbeque pork if preferred.
2. Plumrose shoulder ham contains: Pork (83%), Water, Salt, Spices, Acidity Regulator (451), Thickener (Carrageenan), Antioxidant (316), Colour Fixative (Sodium Nitrite).
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