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No, I am not a Vanilla Ice fan. I appreciate his rise to fame in the ’90s, and marvel at a time perhaps lost now, where music this bad could be so popular. Sure there is still bad music and stupid “celebrities”, but the ’90s was a decade with a particularly special brand of stupid. Take for instance Ice’s claim that the bassline for this is not ripped from “Under Pressure” because he “added a beat.” A statement like this, in today’s Twitter driven world, would have laughed him out of existence. In the ’90s, we just said, “Ummm – yeah okay.” It’s perhaps a testament to the foundational tastes of the music-buying public that Vanilla Ice only had one other hit, the similarly derivative lazy track “Play That Funky Music”. Granted, he “starred” in the pseudo biopic Cool As Ice and years later, like so many ’90s novelties, became a “reality TV” star, but he nonetheless is another in the cultural category of one-hit novelties. I have a special affection for those musical novelties, and “Ice Ice, Baby” is a brilliantly cringeworthy exercise in lame white boy “rap” ripping off the far more brilliant David Bowie and Queen.
It’s also the obvious name for a fried rice dish.
I’ll admit, this is probably more “fried rice adjacent” than actual fried rice. It uses the standard elements, but I also tend to go into “what’s in the vegetable crisper” mode when making this. Peppers? Sure. Carrots? Why not. Celery? Yep put it in. I’ve also used broccoli and mushrooms. What, for me, keeps this in fried rice territory is the rice getting a bit of a fry up in the process. It would be more of a stir fry if the vegetables were cooked separately and served over hot rice. At least, that’s my reasoning and I’m sticking to it.
The first major lesson you need to learn about fried rice is the rice must be cold. Hot rice put into the skillet is going to turn to mush. I usually cook my rice a day ahead so it can get a good long rest in the fridge. This will ensure the grains will stay separate when added to the vegetables. Make sure to break up the cold rice grains before starting the frying. I start with a pre-fry, cooking the cold rice in batches to get it a bit hot and crispy before turning to the vegetables. This may dirty up an extra bowl, but it results in a better end dish.
The second lesson is fried rice, like a salad, should be dressed not costumed. I started out adding WAY too much sauce to the dish making it soupy and over seasoned. For the number of ingredients in your skillet, the sauce here might seem too little. Trust me, it will work just fine.
When it is time to add the eggs, do not scramble in a bowl before adding to the pan. The better method is to push your rice and vegetables aside, forming a hole in the middle of the pan, and heat a bit of oil in that hole. Then, crack the eggs directly into the oil like you’re planning on frying them. Once the whites have set a bit, use your spatula to break the yolks and scramble them into small pieces. This results in a better scramble, a mix of scrambled yolk and fried whites, and better overall texture.
For serving, I go with a bit of sambal oelek or sriracha. Keep it simple. Maybe a few extra sliced scallions or a sprinkle of furikake if you’re so inclined. This, like most fried rice, makes great leftovers whether you eat it cold or reheat it.
RICE RICE BABY
Fried rice with onions, peppers, corn, peas, scallions, scrambled egg, and furikake
Makes 5 – 6 servings
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
3 cups cooked rice, cold from the refrigerator
1/2 sweet onion, julienne
1 red pepper, fine dice
1 poblano, fine dice
1/2 cup of frozen corn
1/2 cup frozen peas
3 scallions, whites, and greens separated and sliced
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon mirin
2 teaspoon sesame oil
2 teaspoon sambal oelek
In a small bowl, combine the soy sauce, mirin, sesame oil, and sambal oelek. Whisk until thoroughly combined.
Heat a skillet over high heat. If using day-old rice, transfer to a medium bowl and break the rice up with your hands into individual grains. Heat 1/2 tablespoon vegetable oil in the skillet. Add half of rice and cook, stirring and tossing, until the rice is pale brown and toasted and has a lightly chewy texture, about 2-3 minutes. Transfer to a medium bowl. Repeat with another 1/2 tablespoon oil and remaining rice.
Heat 1 tablespoon of oil and add the onion and scallion whites. Cook until soft and translucent then add the peppers and toss to combine. Continue cooking until the peppers are crisp-tender, about 5 minutes. They should not be mushy when tasted.
Add the rice and toss to combine. Cook for 3 minutes to fry the rice then add the sauce. Toss again to combine and let cook 3 minutes, stirring often, to get the sauce absorbed.
Push the rice and vegetables to the edges forming a hole in the center of the pan. Place 1 tablespoon of oil in the pan. Crack the eggs into the oil as if you are going to fry them. Let the eggs cook until the whites start to set up. Then, using your spatula, break the yolks and scramble the eggs into small pieces. Toss to combine with the rice and vegetables.
Add the frozen peas and corn and stir to combine. Cook two minutes to heat them through. Sprinkle scallion greens over top and stir in.