As far as fried rice is concerned, I think we all know it’s a taboo to have sticky mushy rice all clumped together. Particularly for me, one who grew up eating mainly Chinese food, I make sure I go by that rule when I cook.
My perfect kind of fried rice has to be light and fluffy while all grains looking pristine on the outside.
Seasonings and oil should be sparingly used so as to retain the natural flavour of the rice. And also, not forgetting adding a variety of ingredients like scrambled egg, meat chunks and diced vegetables. They balance the intake of nutrients and bring colours to the dish. All in all, I must smell an appetising aroma eventually.
Living here in Japan, it isn’t easy to get hold of those other than the homegrown, so my family and I mainly eat Japanese rice.
Short-grain Japanese rice is famously known to be more starchy than other types of rice. When it is properly cooked, its fluffiness and delectable sweet umami will put you on cloud nine even just by eating it alone.
We adore Japanese rice but when it comes to making a perfect fried rice, its squidgy texture is a sure drawback.
Nevertheless, today I’m sharing with you a rice recipe which often been seen serving together with Ramen noodles and Gyoza across Japan. So here’s Gomoku Cha-han 五目チャーハン.
To those who are familiar to Chinese dishes – at first glance, you might wonder “Isn’t this like Yangzhou chow fan?” You are not wrong. Because technically speaking, it is – just only that Gomoku Cha-han uses sticky short-grain Japanese rice and not the long-grain.
The former has a tendency to clump together in lumps when cooked, thus it is often considered not too ideal. Still, it doesn’t mean it cannot be done – here are a few things I do to compensate for that downside.
Use leftover rice but chill overnight first.
Why: Short-grain Japanese rice is cooked by steaming. It holds moisture very well, therefore the sticky texture. But when chilled, the rice will solidify and become firm hard, making the grains less sticky and easy to separate from each other. This is the texture we want for fried rice.
How: Leave the leftover rice out to cool – to completely remove steam/heat before storing overnight(s) in the fridge. When cook, return them to room temperature one hour or so beforehand. Then use your hands to break up the lumps of cold rice manually. With bits of grains apart, it’s easier to fry later on.
Rice, eggs and other ingredients to fry separately.
Why: Since the idea is to keep the rice light and dry, it is best not to include additional fluid from the eggs and other ingredients as it may end up clumping the rice in lumps.
How: Stir-fry other ingredients first and scoop up. Fry the egg in the same pan before putting in the rice. Combine them well and then return the other cooked ingredients back to the pan. Give it a few good tosses to make sure everything is evenly mixed.
Fry in a large well-heated pan and keep tossing.
Why: With a large deep pan, the rice can easily be spread out and heat penetrates more effectively. Moisture in the grains dries up faster when exposed to constant heat, hence making them firm and crisp. However too much of it may burn the grains – so keep tossing.
How: Make sure the pan well-heated at all time and keep tossing to allow an even heat penetration. However, if you are using a non-stick pan, it gets a little tricky. Because excessive heat may ruin the coating of your pan, so do not go overboard and monitor closely.
Gomoku Fried Rice
For 2 persons’ share
Prep time 10 mins, cook time 10 mins
To save/print recipe, click here.
What You Need
400g of chilled cooked rice
100g of pork meat
40g of carrot
2 pcs of shiitake mushroom
20g of leeks & spring onions
1 tsp of vegetable oil
Seasoning for meat
Seasoning for rice
½ tsp of oyster sauce
2 tsp of cooking sake
A dash of salt & pepper
1- Dice carrot & mushroom.
Clean and dice carrot and mushroom into small pieces as shown.
2- Dice leek and spring onion.
After remove the first layer of the leek, cut into strips then dice. Likewise for spring onion, remove roots then chop into small bits as shown.
3- Dice meat and marinate.
Same goes to the meat, dice into small pieces then marinate with seasoning. Leave aside for a few minutes.
4- Beat eggs and break up lumps of cold rice.
Crack and beat eggs in a small bowl. Next combine all seasoning (for rice) into another bowl. Cooked rice tends to clump together when cold, with your hands, break them up into smaller pieces for easy cooking later on.
5- Stir-fry meat and cut vegetables.
With high-medium heat, warm the pan with some oil in and start with frying the meat first. When they are 70-80% cooked (turned darker colour), add in cut vegetables except leek and spring onions. Continue to stir until they are all cooked, then scoop them up on a plate.
6- Combine everything together and serve.
In the same pan, pour in beaten eggs and give it a quick stir, just like how scramble eggs are done. Next add in rice, keep tossing until it combined nicely with eggs. Return the cooked meat and vegetables back into the pan. Pour in the seasoning, add in leek and spring onion, then give it final stir-fry before removing from the heat.
Divide between bowls, sprinkle over coriander leaves or fried shallots, then serve warm. It tastes great in room temperature too though.
Feel free to convert this to a complete vegetarian dish. Simply replace meat with another vegetable like a red pepper or even firm tofu. And omit oyster sauce as well, add in a dash of salt to compensate the taste instead.
Gomoku 五目 means five kinds (of ingredients) – but there is no need for you to exactly follow the recipe. Be creative about it and put in any 5 kinds of ingredients you like. I usually put in one kind of meat or seafood and 3-4 kinds of vegetables. And egg is always a requisite to perfect the dish.
What do I like about this dish?
After all these years being a stay-at-home-mum, I made a few “good friends”. I rely on them greatly whenever I’m in a mad rush and need to fix a meal within minutes. This mighty-O fried rice is definitely one of them – because I can bring them to my dining table within a short period yet still get to see many happy faces around.
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To save/print recipe, click here.