I had some Japanese short-grain rice grains left over from a photoshoot and decided to treat myself to a simple, humble Garlic Rice with Egg for lunch. I do not like to use the garlic cloves from China as they are large, do not taste like garlic should and not aromatic enough. Therefore, for about 200 g of cooked short-grain rice, I used 5-6 Indian garlic cloves – I peeled and sliced them thinly. Besides the garlic, I only needed oil, butter, salt, black pepper powder, soy sauce and an egg. I used soy sauce for that umami and charred flavour. Though it sounds like it is a simple dish, you need to master the art of stir frying to get that right texture and taste.
Stir-frying involves frying food quickly over extremely high heat with little oil. Typically cooked in an iron wok, the ingredients are continually stirred over an open flame. I prefer to use a gas stove. There is a distinctive taste in stir-fries cooked by Chinese restaurant chefs, who are great masters of “wok-hei” or wok-breath in Cantonese, which refers to the unique flavour produced by the wok. Wok-hei can only be achieved if the wok is smoking hot even before oil is added. I used peanut oil as it has a high smoking point and a nutty flavour. When the smoke rises from the wok, drizzle the oil down the sides of the wok to heat it up quickly and to cover the maximum surface.
I fried the garlic slices until they are golden, and the bubbling had mostly subsided. Keep the fried garlic slices aside. To the same oil in the wok, I added butter and black pepper and then the rice, soy sauce and salt. I turned the heat up to high and toss until well combined, breaking up any rice lumps with the back of my spatula. Once well tossed, I pushed the rice to one side of the pan to make some room for the egg. I add the lightly beaten egg and cover it with the rice and let it cook for about 30 seconds longer and then toss to break up the eggs. I then added in the fried garlic slices and stir fried the rice over high heat again and dished out.
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