Sunday, June 23, 2013

Chinese Fried Rice:

Meet My New Girlfriend, Her Name Is Maggi

When I eat at a Chinese restaurant, there are certain things that I look for that determine if I will go back. In my experience, the most difficult thing for these establishments to nail has always been fried rice. A lot of the time, the main dishes are pretty good and the chow mein is pretty good. But most of the time the rice is crap. 

From my perspective, fried rice is the most important component of any combo dish found at  a Chinese restaurant. And let me rant briefly in saying that a "combo plate" at ANY Chinese restaurant should consist of rice, chow mein, and a main dish. Not rice OR chow mein. Rice AND chow mein. Yes, I'm talking to you, generic Chinese restaurant owner!!! Both!!! It's like telling me I can either put salt or pepper on my dish but not both. It's doesn't make sense. A proper Chinese combo should have both. 

But who am I? Right? I am at the mercy of the proprietor. And so it shall be.   

I remember when I was in high school, there was Chinese hole in wall type place close by. It was about 4 blocks from my school so it was easy to get to for lunch. There were always lines of people trying to get to this place. Most likely that was partially because I was always in there at lunch time but mostly because the food kicked ass. It was an "open kitchen" style set up where you could see the chefs actually making the food. It wasn't anything intentional or fancy, it was mostly because that's was the way the building was set up structurally. 

I would always order a side of rice for lunch. I loved it with the egg, peas, carrots and scallions. From what I have been able to gather, this is not necessarily "authentic". But it's what you find pretty much across the board in standard American Chinese restaurants. So as far as I'm concerned, we can call it authentic American Chinese. It deserves that respect. 

The fried rice at this place, as with many others (but not the majority), had a distinct flavor profile that I could never quite put my finger on. I really loved it and I've searched the internet for years looking for this flavor. Then, one day, quite recently actually, I came across a dish that called for Maggi seasoning. I've seen this stuff around for years but never really had the occasion to buy it. But this other recipe I found called for it so I figured it was high time I just bought it and saw what the all hype was about. 

This is definitely huge part of that profile I've been looking for. This recipe is simple and it's fantastic. It is a hardcore staple in my (American) Chinese recipe collection and will remain there until I kidnap (temporarily) a Chinese chef and make him (or her) show me how to perfect that damn rice. Until then, this one will not only do, it'll be a hit.

Fried Rice


  • 1 1/2 Tbsp peanut oil, divided
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 Tbsp sesame oil
  • 1/2 Tbsp chili oil
  • 1 cup frozen peas and carrots
  • 2 cups day old rice - refrigerator cold
  • 1 Tbsp Maggi Seasoning or to taste 
  • 1-2 green onions, sliced on a bias


1. Heat 1/2 Tbsp of the peanut oil in a wok over a medium-high heat. 

2. While your oil is heating, scramble the eggs in a bowl. 

3. Once the wok is hot, add eggs and fry. Roll eggs around the wok to create a thin omelette.  Once done, remove omelette from wok and set aside. Use your spatula to chop the omelette into 1 inch chunks. 

4. Place remaining peanut oil along with the sesame and chili oils on the wok over a high heat. When oils and wok are hot, add the peas and carrots. Stir fry for about 2 minutes stirring constantly.

5. Add the rice and stir fry over the high heat, stirring constantly for about 2 minutes. 

6. Add the Maggi Seasoning and continue to stir fry for another 2-3 minutes, again stirring constantly.

7. Add the eggs and green onions. Stir to combine and remove from heat. 

Serves: 4

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

The New and Improved "Classic" Bloody Mary:

Look!   Up in the Sky!   It's A Drink, It's a Meal!!!

Since I just recently made Penne Alla Vodka, I had a whole bunch of vodka left over that was burnin' a hole in my pocket. I'm actually not much of a hard alcohol drinker. My first choice would be a nice box..err..I mean bottle of wine. However, on occasion and in the spirit of camaraderie, I'll imbibe in a shot or two. But once in a blue moon, I get a hankerin' for a good cocktail. The only requirement, and it's not too much to ask I don't think, is it has to be made right. 

Ooh! Epiphany. Maybe that's why I don't drink cocktails. Maybe I've had too many crappy ones, and believe me, I've had some REALLY crappy ones. It's a cryin' shame that there are so many bartenders out there that can't put together a decent drink. That being said, I guess I'd better a least build an acceptable one myself. 


My family on my mother's side is Canadian. In the Great White North, they don't drink Bloody Marys. They drink Bloody Caesars also simply referred to as a Caesar. It's essentially a Bloody Mary however it's made with clamato juice instead of tomato juice. When my family visits or vice versa, it's Bloody Caesars from noon until the wee small hours of the morning. Holy crap it is a party. And it not just a cocktail, it's an art. From the first ingredient to the last, there is a method. Even down to the order in which you add everything. If you put the lemon juice in before you put the pepper, you messed it up. What? 

The awesome thing about them is that they can party until 2 or 3 in morning and then be up 7 am and out mowing the lawn and gardening. I can't do it. I'm peeping out from behind the blinds, cross-eyed, at 9:30 am, hoping they don't see me. Then about an hour later, I stroll out and say hello. These folks are all chipper, smiling and have already gotten all the chores done, been grocery shopping, paid the bills, and whatever else you can think of. I'm in sheer awe of the partying professionalism they display every time I have the pleasure of seeing them. 

Before I became a vegetarian, I was the (self appointed) official Canadian Caesar representative here in United States. But alas, no more clamato for me. But it's totally cool. I have always loved Caesar's American sister Mary. And she's no different. She is also a work of art if done right. 

I my humble opinion, a perfect Bloody Mary has substance. It's not thick but it possesses the illusion of chewiness. I like mine spicy. In fact a little extra spicy is nice. And it's gotta be just a little bit salty. 

Worcestershire is an absolute must. But as most of you already know, Worcestershire has anchovies in it. So you're gonna have to do a bit of homework. I found a good vegan one at Whole Foods. If there's no Whole Foods in your area, try upper-end markets that carry organic and vegan products. Otherwise, there's always the good old internet. I use a brand called Wan Ja Shan. It's actually pretty good. And if you like Worcestershire, order 2 or more bottles because it'll save you money in shipping (on average price per bottle). Some recipes say a splash of Worcestershire. I say more than a splash. I want it bold. But you can be the judge. 

Hopefully I have created a good balance here with this recipe. Enjoy.  

Bloody Mary


  • Ice
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper     
  • 1/2 tsp celery salt
  • 1 Tbsp hot sauce such as Tabasco
  • 1 Tbsp + another quick splash of vegetarian Worcestershire sauce - I use Wan Ja Shan
  • juice from 1/2 lemon
  • 1 splash of brine from a cocktail olive or pickled green beans jar (optional) 
  • 2 oz. vodka (3 oz. if you want to get hammered) 
  • 8 oz. tomato juice or vegetable juice such as V8
  • for garnish: cocktail olives, pickled green beans, celery stalks, lemon slices


1. Fill a cocktail shaker 2/3 full with ice

2. Add pepper, celery salt, hot sauce, Worcestershire, lemon juice, and brine (if you are using it)

3. Add vodka and tomato juice. Cover and shake.

4. Pour into glasses over ice and garnish as desired. 

Serves: 2