Chart House skips leftovers in its fried rice
I thought I knew all there was to know about cooking rice. Rice pot, stovetop, even microwave -- I've been cooking rice by these means since high school.
Then came my conversation with Randy Manuel, executive chef at the Chart House. We were talking about fried rice and he was saying that his customers didn't want theirs made with leftover rice.
"They don't like the rice from yesterday," is how Manuel put it.
Now, I've always thought the whole point of fried rice -- the reason for its existence on Earth -- is to use up leftovers. Not just rice, but leftover meat and odd veggies. Besides which, the best fried rice is made with rice that's a bit dried out, which is what happens when it sits in the fridge overnight. Some chefs even freeze their rice to get the texture right.
To use freshly made rice is to risk a mushy result.
But what are you going to do? "Some customers ask, 'Can I have the fried rice, but made with rice from today?'" Manuel said. "So we start doing it that way."
His solution is to dry-cook his rice. Instead of the normal rice-pot ratio of 1 cup rice to 1 cup water, he uses 1 cup rice to 3/4 cup water. Clever.
We were launched on this path of discussion by Betty Kanai. "The Kim Chee Fried Rice and the Garlic Chicken at the Chart House in Waikiki are just the best! Is there any way you could get the recipes?"
Manuel provided both, but for space reasons, I can only give you one today. Tune in next week for the garlic chicken.
Kim Chee Fried Rice
1/4 cup diced bacon
1/4 cup diced onion
1/4 cup diced carrots (see notes)
1/4 cup diced char siu
1/4 cup diced green onion
1/2 cup won bok kim chee
1 teaspoon hon dashi powder
1 tablespoon oyster sauce
5 cups cooked rice, warm (see notes)
Scramble egg, set aside.
Sauté bacon in skillet or wok over medium-high heat until partly cooked.
Add onion; sauté until onions are soft.
Add remaining ingredients, including egg. Toss until well-mixed and everything is warm. Serves 4.
Approximate nutritional analysis, per serving (not including salt to taste): 360 calories, 7 g total fat, 2 g saturated fat, 115 mg cholesterol, 550 mg sodium, 60 g carbohydrate, 2 g fiber, 1 g sugar, 12 g protein.
Notes: To soften carrots before adding to fried rice, place diced carrots in a microwave-safe dish with a small amount of water; cover and microwave on high about 30 seconds. Drain well. If using fresh rice, make rice with less water: 1 cup rice to 3/4 cup water.
Nutritional analyses by Joannie Dobbs, Ph.D., C.N.S.
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