This dish is as much a comfort food as it is an iconic dish that heralds the end of a Chinese banquet. The secret to a great fried rice is wok hei, the smoky aroma that is the hallmark of great Chinese cooking. Cold cooked rice is ideal for this dish.
600g cooked jasmine rice
5 tbsp vegetable oil
2 free range eggs, beaten
100g peeled green prawns, diced
100g char siu (barbecue pork), diced
2 small spring onions, sliced into fine rings
1 tsp sesame oil
1 tbsp light soy
salt and freshly ground white pepper
Loosen the cooked rice grains with a ladle as much as possible. Set aside.
Heat a wok over high heat until it starts to smoke, then add two tablespoons of oil and swirl to coat. Add the eggs to fry until just set, then transfer to a plate or push them to the side of the wok.
Add the remaining oil and when very hot, add the prawns and stir-fry briefly until they are partially cooked. Add the char siu and rice and stir-fry over high heat for two to three minutes, moving everything around to stop it from sticking to the wok. Use a ladle or wok scoop to break up any lumps until the grains are separate.
Continue to stir-fry and when the rice is very hot and fragrant with wok hei (by now the rice grains on the side of the wok should pop or jump), add spring onions, sesame oil, soy, and salt and pepper if you wish, and stir-fry for another 30 seconds or until everything is coated and coloured. Taste and adjust seasoning if required. Serve at once.
1. As heat is of vital importance to achieve superior fried rice, I suggest you cook the fried rice in two batches if your wok is small.
2. According to chef Anthony Lui of Melbourne's Flower Drum restaurant, the classic Yangzhou fried rice contains peas and chicken, though you can vary whatever ingredients you like – I've had a dressed-up version with XO sauce - but just don't call it Yangzhou fried rice.
3. Made properly, fried rice is a delicious, quick meal in itself. Serve it with chopped chillies, with soy as a dip, and a simple salad of sliced tomatoes dressed with chopped coriander. Grab your chopsticks and start sweeping the rice elegantly to your mouth.