Thursday, September 30, 2010

Macao Fried Rice -- 澳門炒飯

The following is a recipe I loved when I first tried it, cooked often for a while and then, like so many newspaper clipping recipes in the pre-laptop/internet era, misplaced for years.  I finally tracked it down again and was very glad I did.  It's excellent and needs to be shared.
This is fried rice as prepared on the island nation of Macao, Hong Kong's "sister" island and also part of the so-called Special Administrative Region of the People's Republic of China.  I think of it as a "quick paella" (the flavors are very close) and you can certainly add some of the traditional paella ingredients such as shrimp, chicken or shellfish as accompaniments.  Paella, of course, is wonderful to cook, but it can be challenging to get the hang of it (especially seafood paella) and it does take quite a bit of time.  This is quick, easy and, once you have it down, easy to vary in a number of pleasing ways.

The author of the recipe and the New York Times magazine article that included it is the Indian cooking authority, Julie Sahni.  Her name is always indicates excellence.

(Julie Sahni recipe from 1988 NYT Magazine article on the cooking of Macao)

Small pinch saffron
1 egg beaten with 1 teaspoon of water
1/4 cup olive oil
1 1/2 teaspoons minced ginger
1/2 cup pureed tomatoes (fresh or canned)
1/2 cup chopped yellow onions
3 cups cooked rice
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
1/4 teaspoon white pepper
1/2 teaspoon oyster sauce or soy sauce
1/2 cup frozen green peas, defrosted
1/3 cup thinly sliced scallions.

1. Powder the saffron in a small bowl using your finger tips. Stir in one tablespoon of water and set aside.

2. In a wok or a large saute pan, heat one tablespoon of the oil and add the beaten egg. Immediately tilt the pan, spreading the egg to coat the bottom of the wok. As soon as the egg sets, turn off the heat. Scrape the omelet into a bowl, breaking into pieces.

3. Add the remaining oil to the wok over high heat. Add the ginger, sizzle for 15 seconds, then add the tomatoes and saffron water. Cook, stirring constantly, until the contents turn thick and glazed (about four minutes). Add the onions and cook an additional minute. Fold in the rice, salt, pepper and oyster or soy sauce. Cook until the contents are heated through (about two minutes). Stir in the peas and egg pieces, tossing for about 30 seconds. Add the scallions and serve immediately.

Yield: Four to six servings. 

Macao 1870 (above)
Macao today (below)

 Arroz Frito Portuguesa 澳門炒飯

Ruins of St. Paul Cathedral, Macao (1582-1605), 大三巴牌坊


Preparing the world's largest paella, 2003, Cornudella de Monstant, Spain

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