When we were in Vietnam, we had a fantastic cooking class with Gioan’s cookery school in Hoi An, hosted by the lovely Vina. We learnt how to cook several dishes including spring rolls, chicken with chilli and lemongrass, Hoi An egg pancake and Hoi An fried rice.
Gioan’s cookery school kindly said that I could post a couple of their recipes. The first was the chilli jam (which also features in this recipe) and this is another of my staples. I have always been on the hunt for the perfect fried rice recipe, and I never get it quite right. This one is perfect and I keep going back to it.
This recipe has a very basic list of ingredients with nothing out of the ordinary that you can’t find in a regular supermarket. The only exception to this is the chilli jam, but you can use a spicy sweet chilli sauce instead, or a great substitute that I discovered recently: a knorr chilli flavour pot!
The key to this recipe, as with most Vietnamese food, is getting the right balance of salt, sugar and sourness. The fish sauce adds a lovely salty sour flavour against the sweetness of the chilli jam and sugar in the meat marinade. We were advised to follow the recipe and adjust the seasoning at the end of the cooking process: by adding fish sauce, soy or chilli jam, according to your taste.
Rather than chopping the garlic, we were instructed to ‘bash’ it with the ‘boyfriend basher’ (or meat tenderizer) into smallish chunks. Whilst this does tend to make garlic fly around your kitchen, it means that it doesn’t burn and become bitter when you cook it with the rice.
Another good tip is to make sure that the oil is the right temperature before you start cooking. You can do this by using long wooden cooking chopsticks (which we bought from the school). Put the tips of the chopsticks in the oil and wait for small bubbles to form around them. This indicates the oil is medium hot.
One last important reminder: you need to use steamed, cold rice that you cooked earlier or the night before, otherwise it will go mushy.
I will include a full review of Gioan’s cookery school when I publish my Vietnam blogs, but for now, here is a taster. As they would say, ‘Hello fried rice!’
This recipe serves 4. It is suitable as an entire main meal, or you can stir fry some vegetables to go with it.
- 4 cups steamed rice - cold
- 1/2 carrot - chopped into small cubes
- 1/2 onion - chopped into small cubes
- 100g shrimps and pork - chopped into small cubes
- 50g green beans - chopped into small cubes
- 1 teaspoon vegetable stock powder
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 4 shallots - chopped finely
- 1 teaspoon chilli jam
- 1 teaspoon spring onion - chopped finely
- 1 teaspoon fish sauce
- 2 cloves garlic - crushed
- 2 egg yolks
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 2 tablespoons water
- 400ml boiling water
- pinch salt
1. Marinade the shrimps and pork with the stock powder, sugar and shallots for a minimum of 30 minutes.
2. Blanch the carrot and green beans in boiling water for 30 seconds. Drain the water and put them into cold water so they keep their colour.
3. In a frying pan, heat 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil to medium hot, add garlic and stir for 10 seconds. Add the cold steamed rice and use the back of a spoon to press down and separate the rice. Add a pinch of salt and the egg yolk, stir for 20 seconds, continue to simmer on a low heat pressing occasionally with the back of the spoon.
4. In another frying pan or a wok, heat 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil to medium hot. Add the shrimps and pork and stir for 3 minutes. Add the onion, 2 tablespoons of water, carrot, green beans, chilli jam and fish sauce. Cook for 2 minutes, then mix together with the fried rice.
5. Taste it at this point and add more fish sauce, chilli jam and/or soy sauce according to taste. Serve garnished with the spring onion.