Mark your calendars; Chinese New Year,The Year of the Rabbit, officially begins next week, Feb. 3. According to the website Chinese Zodiac/Rabbit, people born in the Year of the Rabbit (1915, 1927, 1939, 1951,1963, 1975, 1987, 1999, 2011)are articulate, talented and ambitious. Rabbit people are also virtuous, reserved and have excellent taste.
I have several “Rabbit” friends, and I can attest that trait extends to their excellent taste buds; enjoying delicious Chinese food is always on their radar.
According to Elizabeth Chong’s, Heritage of Chinese Cooking, in the early days of the Han dynasty (202 BC-AD 220), rice was considered a delicacy as millet was the staple grain. Eight-treasure rice depicts the spiritual significance of rice to the Chinese people, bringing good fortune and blessings at the beginning of a New Year.
In Asian cuisine, The name “Eight-Treasure” is the descriptor preceding many dishes, including poultry, soup, desserts and teas. Topping that list is a wide variety of Eight-Treasure Fried Rice recipes.
Indeed, after perusing my collection of Asian cookbooks and an inspired cruise through the internet, I’ve come to the conclusion there are as many recipes for fried rice as there are rice paddies in China. Fried Rice, it seems, can be anything you want it to be. For me, it’s is a handy generic slate to which a fridge full of leftovers may be added, minus the excess fat and additives you often find in Chinese take-out food.
According to Susanna Foo, acclaimed Chinese restaurateur and cookbook author: “Whatever your ingredients (when cooking fried rice), the basic technique remains: the egg (a component of most fried rice dishes) must be fried until it is lightly golden and aromatic and the scallions cooked until soft.”
Chef Foo also advises against the use of soy sauce as it “…spoils the delicacy of this dish.” Soy sauce, however, was delicious in the recipe below; I selected antioxident-rich brown rice over the soft, sweet and delicate white rice typically used when making fried rice.
I would also add a tenet to Chef Foo’s fried rice credo: your rice should be well-chilled so the starch hardens and easily fries.
Alas, I am not fortunate enough to have been born in the Year of the Rabbit. My husband and I were born in the Year of the Goat, and our traits include being shy, pessimistic and puzzled about life. Maybe so, but we know good fried rice when we eat it.