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Ham and Egg Fried Rice

From Barbara Tropp, The Modern Art of Chinese Cooking

Serves: 2 as one-bowl meal, 3-4 as large bowlful, 6-8 as small portion

Ingredients:

  • 3.5 c. cold cooked rice
  • 2-3 oz. honey- or sugar-cured ham (1/2 c. cubed ham)
  • 1/2 c. fresh or frozen peas, or baby lima beans
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 3.5-4 tbs. corn or peanut oil
  • 1-1.25 tsp. kosher salt
  • 3 tbs. scallion rings
  • 2-3 tbs. toasted almond slivers or pine nuts (optional)

Steps:

  1. Cook rice: I use 1-1.5 c. long grain rice (which I do not wash), and 2X water. Bring water to boil, add rice, cover, lower heat, and simmer for 15 minutes. Let stand 5 minutes, uncover, fluff, and pour out into a large bowl to cool. Let cool completely.
  2. Blanch peas or lima beans in boiling water until tender, drain, and cool under running water. (Defrosted frozen peas take about 20 seconds.)
  3. Heat a small skillet until hot. Add 1.5 tbs. oil, swirl, then reduce heat to moderate. Pour beaten eggs into skillet. As bottom cooks (several seconds), slide bottom to side and let still runny top egg slip into pan. Keep sliding and slipping until all of the egg is barely cooked, then slide onto plate. Break egg into small bits.
  4. Heat wok or large skillet until hot. Add 2 tbs. oil and swirl. Add rice and briskly stir-fry to heat through, about 2-3 minutes. Lower heat if rice starts to scorch, dribbling in additional oil if needed. Add salt and toss to combine, then ham, peas or lima beans, then eggs, then scallions and nuts. Continue tossing until hot, then serve.

Notes:

  • Note that since there is no soy sauce, this dish comes out pearly white, unlike almost any fried rice you are likely to order. This has become my standard template for fried rice, and I serve it with most Chinese meals. I even taught my mother how to cook it, and she frequently paired it with the equally easy 1-2-3-4-5 Spare Ribs.
  • I usually get a thick 1/4-inch cut of Virginia Smoked Ham for this, but also like Honey Ham and Canadian Bacon.
  • The nuts are my addition, based on another Barbara Tropp recipe.
  • The egg directions may seem delicate, but all you're really looking for is to cook an omelet very quickly. The key thing is to get the pan hot enough to instantly vaporize a bead of water, then add the oil, then swirl it 15-20 seconds, by which time the oil starts to haze a bit. From that point, the egg will cook almost instantly, so you can work fast. But none of this is absolutely critical: anything from slightly solid to well-done-but-not-real-burnt works.
  • The range of substitutions is probably endless. I've used Chinese sausages, Szechuan Preserved Vegetable, and countless other add-ins. However, I've never actually tried it with lima beans.

Keywords: Chinese, Rice.