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

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