Fried Rice: Going Global
In the ongoing quest to develop new menu offerings based on less costly ingredients, chefs are creating variations of fried rice, incorporating flavor components that reach well beyond those found in the traditional Chinese dish. Ingredients from across the globe are making their way into these dishes, as are a broad assortment of grains and heirloom rices.
The Little Beet Table serves a dish of Crispy Pearl Rice that is griddled rather than fried. Prepared in a similar fashion to hashed browned potatoes, the rice is crisped on a flat griddle until one side is nicely browned, and then tossed with garlic, soy, ginger, slices of blistered shishito peppers and topped with a sunny-side egg. This technique produces a pleasing textural combination of both soft and crunchy rice grains.
Chef/owner Josef Centeno incorporates the spicy North African bird’s eye chile into his dish of Green Piri Piri Rice at P.Y.T. in Los Angeles, stir-frying the rice and chile paste with lime zest and a generous handful of chopped green herbs, finishing the dish with an over-easy egg.
Korean kimchi was found in several fried rice dishes, including the Kimchi Barley and Fried Rice at M Café in Los Angeles, studded with chunks of roasted oyster mushrooms and Brussels sprouts and topped with fried basil, shredded nori and a spicy miso drizzle. The Kimchi Fried Rice at nearby République was garnished with tender shreds of pulled short rib and a soft farm egg. République’s menu also features a Filipino-inspired Adobo Fried Rice, stir-fried to a deep brown with adobo seasoning and crispy bits of fried pork belly.
One of the more creative grain combinations is featured in the Chickpea Skillet Rice served at New York’s Quality Eats, stir-fried in bacon fat with scallion, garlic and bacon bits before receiving the classic fried egg topping.
While many chefs opted for an egg topping on their fried rice dishes, Miles Thompson, executive chef of Michael’s in Santa Monica, Calif., chose a unique garnish for his Black Garlic Fried Rice, topping the crispy forbidden rice with vinegar-roasted baby turnips served with the stems and leaves intact.
And in one cleverly executed dish, the Hudson Valley Foie Fried Rice at 21 Greenpoint in Brooklyn, N.Y., global flavors are given a touch of luxury by Executive Chef Sean Telo. The fried rice/paella hybrid incorporates foie gras with Portuguese linguiça sausage and allspice that is first stir-fried and then oven-baked in cast iron until a crunchy crust is formed on both the top and bottom.
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