Homestyle Omurice

Omurice is one of the most popular Japanese home-cooked dishes. A simple fried rice known as “chicken rice” is covered in a soft-set omelette and demi-glace sauce. There are three main styles of preparing the omelette for the omurice, and I’m going to show you the most popular style.

Ingredients

2 tbsp canola oil

1 small onion peeled and finely diced

½ cup sliced mushrooms

1 small carrot, finely diced (optional)

1 small chicken breast, cut into 2cm cubes

¼ cup frozen peas

salt, to season

4 cups cooked koshihikari rice, chilled overnight

1 tsp soy sauce

1-2 tbsp tomato sauce (ketchup)

5 eggs, beaten

¼ cup demiglace (available from Japanese grocers)

2 tbsp beef or other stock

1 tsp finely chopped parsley, to serve

Method

Heat a frying pan over medium heat and add 1 tbsp of oil. Fry the onions for about a minute until fragrant, then add the mushrooms and carrot and fry for a further 2 minutes until the carrots are softened. Add the chicken and peas, season with salt and fry until the chicken is just cooked through.

Add the rice to the frying pan, along with the soy sauce and ketchup. Fry for about 3 minutes until the rice is warmed, softened and well mixed. Remove the rice from the pan and divide it between two bowls. Press the rice to the side of the bowl at a 45 degree angle, so that he rice forms a half-football or “torpedo” shape rather than a round dome. Turn the rice out onto two separate plates and keep warm while you cook the eggs.

For the demi-glace sauce, combine the prepared demi-glace and stock in a small saucepan and mix well over medium heat until hot and combined.

Heat a clean frying pan (around the same size as the plate the rice is on) over medium heat and add about 1 tbsp of oil. Add 2-3 beaten eggs and with a gentle pushing motion, push the egg from the edges of the pan to the centre as the egg slowly cooks. When the egg is set at the base but still quite wet on top, remove the pan from the heat and slide the egg over one plate the rice. Pour over the demi-glace sauce and sprinkle with a little parsley to serve. Repeat for the remaining egg.

Top Tips for Omurice

  • There are three main ways of making the egg to go with this dish. Firstly an egg skin is cooked firm and used to wrap the rice. This is a common way of doing this, but the drawback is that the egg is usually fully set rather than soft. Secondly, a soft-centred French omelette is placed on top of the rice and cut so that it opens over the rice. This method is very difficult to achieve unless you are very good at making French-style omelettes. This is how omurice is served in many specialist, higher-end omurice restaurants. The third and most popular method is the one in this recipe, where a soft, unfolded omelette is draped over the rice on the plate. This is the most common way the dish is served at home in Japan.
  • Without the egg, this dish is called “chicken rice” and is a very popular kids dish in Japan. Of course, omurice with the egg is popular too.
  • You can leave off the demiglace if you prefer and just top the rice with a squirt of tomato sauce (ketchup).
Nasi Goreng – Indonesian Fried Rice

Nasi goreng literally just means ‘fried rice’ in Bahasa and the key to this dish is the aromatic rempah made from eschallots, garlic, chilli and shrimp paste. It can be as simple as rice fried with the rempah and topped with a fried egg, or you can add other ingredients to it like I have here, with chicken, prawns and green beans. This is the third instalment of Fried Rice Fridays on my YouTube channel. Check out the video below.

Ingredients

3 cloves garlic, peeled

2 eschallots, peeled and roughly chopped

1 tsp belacan

½ cup canola oil

4 eggs

1 large red chilli, seeds removed (or other chillies as you prefer)

1 chicken breast, cut into 2cm cubes

10 medium prawns, peeled and butterflied

12 green beans, cut into 1cm pieces

4 cups cooked Jasmine rice, chilled overnight in the fridge

1 tbsp kecap manis

To serve:

prawn crackers (keropok udang)

sliced cucumber

sliced tomato

Method

Combine the garlic, eschallots, belacan and chilli in a small food processor and process to a coarse paste (rempah).

Heat the oil in a wok and fry the eggs one at a time until puffy, and browned and crisp around the edges. Set the eggs aside. You can use this oil to fry your prawn crackers if you like. Remove the oil from the wok, leaving about 2-3 tablespoons for further frying. Return the wok to medium heat.

Add the rempah to the oil and fry, stirring frequently for about 5 minutes, or until the oil separates from the solids and they are darkened and fragrant. Increase the heat under the wok and add the chicken breast, prawns and beans and toss for a minute or two until the chicken and prawns are barely cooked through. Add the rice and toss well. Drizzle over the kecap manis and mix until the rice is uniformly coated and lightly toasted. Remove the fried rice to a plate and serve with the prawn crackers, sliced cucumber and tomato, and top with a fried egg.

Top Tips for Nasi Goreng

  1. Try this with dried shrimp or topped with fried dried anchovies (ikan bilis) for a different twist.
  2. You can adjust the spiciness of the dish by the kind of chillies you use. Hotter chillies will obviously produce a hotter dish.
  3. Don’t skimp on the accompaniments. All fried rice dishes are a combination of egg and rice at a minimum, but the best thing about nasi goreng is the contrast of textures you get between the soft, oily rice, the soft, oozy egg, the fresh cucumber and tomato, and the crunchy prawn cracker.
Hokkien Fried Rice

Hokkien Fried Rice is a Taiwanese dish with origins in the Hokkien people who originally came from Fujian Province in China. It’s different to other fried rice dishes in that a simple egg fried rice is topped with lightly braised ingredients. In true Hokkien style, the dish often contains a mixture of dried seafood, as well as ingredients from the land and mountains, but you can use any ingredients you like, really.

Ingredients

Serves 4

2 chicken thighs, cut into 3 cm pieces

3 dried shiitake mushrooms, soaked in 2 cups hot water for 20 minutes and sliced

¼ cup dried scallops, soaked in hot water

4 tbsp canola oil

2 eggs, lightly beaten

3 cups day-old cooked Jasmine rice, preferably cooked in chicken stock

salt, to season

2 cloves garlic

4 cm ginger, cut into thin matchsticks

2 chicken thighs, cut into 3 cm pieces

4 spring onions, cut into 5cm lengths

1 small carrot, cut into 3 cm pieces

2 tbsp bamboo shoots, cut into matchsticks

2 pieces Taiwanese five spice tofu, cut into 1.5cm pieces

2 tbsp oyster sauce

1 tbsp soy sauce

1 tbsp Shaoxing wine

a pinch of sugar

½ cup raw prawns, peeled and butterflied

1 tbsp cornflour

 

Chicken marinade

½ tsp cornflour

1 tsp soy sauce

1 tsp Shaoxing wine

Method

Combine the chicken with the ingredients for the chicken marinade and set aside. Heat your wok over high heat and add half the oil. Add the eggs and stir well. When the egg is nearly set add the rice and toss well to coat with the pieces of egg. Separate the clumps of rice by pressing them against the side of the wok with the back of your wok spatula. Season with salt and remove from the wok to a bowl.

Return the wok to the heat and add the remaining oil. Add the garlic and ginger and toss for a few seconds until fragrant. Add the chicken and toss to coat in the fragrant oil. Add the onion, carrot, bamboo shoot, mushrooms, scallops and tofu. Toss for a minute or two and then add the reserved liquid from soaking the mushrooms and scallops, oyster sauce, soy sauce, Shaoxing wine, sugar and enough chicken stock to make a braising base. Simmer for about 5 minutes, then add the prawns and simmer for a further minute. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary. Mix the cornflour with some cold chicken stock or water and stir the mixture through the braise to thicken it to a silky consistency

To serve, pack the egg fried rice into a bowl and invert it onto a plate. Pour the braised ingredients on top and serve.

Top Tips for Hokkien Fried Rice

  1. Make sure you season the rice as  well as the braised component. You want the rice to be flavourful on its own.
  2. Always taste the braising mixture and adjust the seasoning if required. A little more salt or soy sauce it it does not have enough depth or saltiness, or a pinch of sugar if it tastes too savoury.
  3. When thickening the sauce, add the cornflour mixture in three batches. This will stop you from adding too much at one time, which can make the mixture gluggy. Remember, the silky texture you need is a mixture of oil, liquid (stock) and the cornflour so don’t skimp on the oil at the beginning.
Yangzhou Fried Rice

Yangzhou fried rice from Jiangsu Province is the most famous variety of fried rice in China. Known for the fine knifework in cutting the ingredients, it has been the model for “special fried rice” or “house fried rice” dishes found on Chinese restaurant menus in the West. The ingredients added can vary greatly but the key is the careful preparation of ingredients. You can use rice cooked in chicken stock if you want an even more flavourful result.

The patron of an excellent restaurant in China once told me that the secret to a really good fried rice is finding a really good chicken, and really the origins of fried rice celebrate the connection between chicken and rice. The rice is cooked in chicken stock (less common these days, as chicken powder is often used), some of the chicken meat and offal is used as an ingredient, and then egg is mixed with the rice. Almost all fried rice recipes around the world still use a combination of chicken, egg and rice.

Ingredients

3 dried shiitake mushrooms, soaked in 2 cups hot water for 20 minutes

1/3 cup canola oil

4 spring onions, cut into ½ cm slices

2 cloves garlic, minced

50g cured Chinese-style ham (or substitute Italian cured ham)

1 small carrot, cut into ½ cm pieces

2 tbsp bamboo shoots, cut into ½ cm pieces

¼ cup green peas

¼ cup cooked chicken thigh, cut into ½ cm pieces

2 tbsp cooked chicken gizzard, cut into ½ cm pieces

¼ cup small raw prawns, peeled

about 1 tsp salt, to season

3 eggs, lightly beaten

5 cups day-old cooked Jasmine rice, preferably cooked in chicken stock

Method

Remove the stems of the soaked mushrooms and cut the caps into ½ cm pieces. Heat a wok over high heat and add about half the oil. Fry the spring onion and garlic for about 30 seconds and then add the shiitake mushroom, carrot, and bamboo shoot and fry for a further minute. Add the chicken thigh, chicken gizzard, peas and prawns, season with a little salt, and toss until the vegetables are softened and prawns just barely cooked. Remove from the wok and set aside.

Return the wok to the heat and add the remaining oil. Add the egg and stir vigorously to break it apart. When the egg is nearly set add the rice and toss well to coat with the pieces of egg. Separate the clumps of rice by pressing them against the side of the wok with the back of your wok spatula. Season generously with salt. You can add a little more oil if necessary. Return the fried ingredients back to the wok and toss to mix well.

Top Tips for Yangzhou Fried Rice

  1. You can use any ingredients you like for fried rice although the basis is usually chicken, egg and rice. Bear in mind, though that you want a mix of sweeter vegetables (like carrot and peas) and savoury meats (like cured ham), as well as a mix of textures for a truly great fried rice dish.
  2. Jasmine rice is the most popular but you can also use other kinds of rice is you prefer. I often make this with Japanese short grain rice.
  3. Fried rice uses more oil that you might think. A good amount of oil ins necessary to separate the grains.
Prawns & Snow Peas with XO Sauce

This dish is ready in the blink of an eye and really drills home the benefits of having a good homemade XO sauce in the fridge. This is the kind of thing that would cost you $30 in a restaurant, but you can make it yourself in less than 10 minutes. Instead of homemade XO sauce you can use a good-quality store-bought variety, but for the reasons I explained in my previous post and video, I think it’s much better to make your own.

Ingredients

approx. 12 large prawns, peeled and deveined

1 tbsp vegetable oil

a pinch of salt

1 tbsp XO sauce, preferably homemade

10-15 snow peas, topped and tailed with threads removed

1 tsp cornflour mixed into 2 tbsp  water

Method

Butterfly the prawns by cutting through the back about half the way through and flattening with the flat of a knife.

Heat your wok until very hot and drizzle the oil around the edges. Add the prawns to the wok, season with a pinch of sea salt and fry for about 30 seconds until starting to colour. Add in the snow peas and stir fry for a further minute. Add in the XO sauce and toss through for another minute or so until the prawns are just cooked and he snow peas tender but still crunchy. Drizzle over the cornflour mixture, toss for a further 30 seconds and transfer to a plate to serve.

Top Tips for Cooking Prawns with XO Sauce

  • Butterflying the prawns may seem unnecessary, but the light and crunchy texture it gives to the prawns is certainly worth the 5 minutes of effort.
  • The quality of prawns is all-important for any simple prawn dish. Try to use large fresh, certified sustainable raw prawns that you peel yourself. Peeled frozen prawns may be cheaper, but there are serious environmental and humanitarian concerns that need to be addressed with a lot of cheap prawn production.
  • Drizzling over the cornflour mixture helps to “stick” the XO sauce to the prawns and will be a huge boost to flavour. Don’t just dump the whole amount of the cornflour mixture into the wok, shake the wok and drizzle in only as much as you need. Watch the video for the technique.
  • If you’re still on the fence about whether to make your own XO sauce, maybe give this a go with a store-bought version first. If you like it, then move on to making your own.
  • The same technique can be used for making the classic pippies with XO sauce.
Homemade XO Sauce

XO Sauce only appeared in Cantonese cuisine as a result of the boom times of the 1980s. It’s a collection of the most prized ingredients from around China, and it was named after XO cognac – a status symbol of decadence and sophistication in Hong Kong at the time. The dried scallops are a little expensive, but that’s kind of the point.

Ingredients

2 cups peanut oil

6 large garlic cloves, minced

4 large red or golden eschallots, peeled and minced

6 large red chilies, deseeded and minced

50g dried scallops

50g dried shrimp

50g Jinhua ham, Yunnan or prosciutto, finely shredded

1 tsp salt

1 tsp caster sugar

1 tbsp chili powder (preferably Korean)

1 tbsp dark soy sauce

Method

Soak the scallops and shrimp separately each in 1 cup of hot water for at least 1 hour. Drain well and shred the scallops by pounding them in a mortar to separate the fibres. Roughly grind the drained shrimp in a mortar and pestle as well. Reserve the strained liquid.

Heat your oven to 100C. Heat a little of the peanut oil in a medium, oven-proof saucepan over low heat and fry the garlic, eschallots and chillies for about 10 minutes until they are fragrant and softened. Add the shredded scallops, shrimp, ham or prosciutto, salt, sugar, chilli powder, soy sauce and a little of the reserved soaking liquid from the scallops. Bring to a simmer and simmer until the liquid is evaporated or absorbed (this may take 15-20 minutes). Add the remaining oil and reduce the heat to very low. Allow the oil to infuse on the stovetop, stirring regularly for about an hour or two. Make sure the heat is very low or the sauce will burn before it infuses. Alternatively, if you’re using an oven-proof saucepan you can transfer to the oven uncovered for 1-2 hours (or even more) until the colour of the sauce intensifies and the sauce is thick, oily and jammy. Transfer to clean jars and refrigerate until ready to use. The sauce will keep for about 6 months.

Top Tips for XO Sauce

  • I use this all the time so I make a double or triple quantity of this every time I make it. It’s great with dumplings, stir-fried with prawns or with noodles or fried rice.
  • The goal with cooking the XO sauce is to drive off as much of the watery liquid as possible, leaving it oily and jammy.
  • You can substitute or add all kinds of ingredients into this. A chef of a three-Michelin starred restaurant in Hong Kong told me he always adds lemongrass to his. Try it with salmon floss or other dried seafood.

 

Crispy Teriyaki Chicken Burger

This simple teriyaki chicken burger recipe is really the best. Simple to make and absolutely delicious. The key is reducing the teriyaki sauce enough so that it doesn’t make the fried chicken soft when you coat it.

Serves 4

Ingredients

1/2 -3/4 cup homemade teriyaki sauce

4 chicken thigh fillets, skin on

1/2 cup potato flour (or cornflour)

1-2L oil, for deep frying

4 hamburger buns of your choice

1 sheet nori, cut into thin strips

2 cups shredded iceberg lettuce

1/2 cup Japanese mayonnaise

butter (optional)

shichimi togarashi, or chilli powder (optional)

Japanese pickles, to serve (optional)

Method

Place the teriyaki sauce in a small saucepan and bring to a simmer. Simmer until the sauce is thick and reduced.

Coat the chicken in the flour and shake off any excess. Heat the oil to 175C and fry the chicken for around 5 minutes until cooked through. Remove the chicken from the oil and immediately dip it into the reduced teriyaki sauce to coat.

Toast the buns on the inside only (you still want the outside to be soft) and layer with the butter (if using), nori, chicken, lettuce and mayonnaise. Sprinkle with a little shichimi togarashi or chilli if you wish. Serve with pickles if you like.

Top Tips for Teriyaki Chicken Burgers

  • Make sure you use chicken thighs with the skin on. This recipe will not be good with chicken breasts, or chicken without skin. The skin is needed to get a really crispy result.
  • Choose buns that are around the same size as your chicken, but remember that the chicken will shrink slightly during cooking.
  • You can add many more ingredients to this if you wish – pickles, cheese, tomatoes, onion, pineapple etc. – but I prefer to keep it simple.
  • Cut the nori into thin strips instead of leaving it as a sheet, as it will be much easier to bite and eat in strips.

 

Gong Bao Ji Ding

Gong bao ji ding (宫保鸡丁 – literally ‘The Palace Guardian’s Diced Chicken’) is a Sichuan dish hugely popular around China, but most well known outside China as the origins of the Westernised classics kungpao chicken and chicken with cashew nuts.

Westernised versions – commonly using the old Wade-Giles romanisation of ‘kung pao’ instead of the pinyin ‘gong bao’ – often use capsicum/peppers instead of dried chillies, leave out Sichuan peppercorns (Sichuan peppercorn imports were banned in the US for a period) and incorporate more Cantonese ingredients and techniques (as the majority of Chinese chefs in the US and Australia are of Cantonese origin rather than Sichuanese) such as hoisin sauce.

This is an authentic Sichuanese version of the dish.

Ingredients

1 large chicken breast , cut into 1.5cm cubes

3 tbsp vegetable oil

12-15 large dried chillies, seeds removed, snipped into 1cm lengths

1 tsp Sichuan peppercorns

2 cloves garlic, finely minced

2 tsp grated ginger

6 thick spring onions (about 1cm in diameter), cut into 1cm pieces

½ cup unsalted roasted peanuts

a little cornflour mixed with cold water, to thicken

Chicken marinade

1 tsp soy sauce

1 tsp Shaoxing wine

1 tsp cornflour

Gong bao sauce

1 tbsp sugar

1 tbsp Chinkiang black vinegar

1 tsp sesame oil

1 tsp dark soy sauce

1 tsp soy sauce

Method

Combine the chicken with the chicken marinade and set aside. Heat a wok over high heat until very hot, add the oil and then add the dried chillies and Sichuan peppercorns. When fragrant (this will just take a few seconds), add the chicken and toss well for a minute or two until the chicken is separated and browned. Add the garlic, ginger and spring onions and continue to toss over heat until the chicken is nearly cooked through. Add the sauce and toss to coat, adding a little cornflour mixed with water if needed to thicken the mixture so that it coats the chicken well. Stir through the peanuts and serve immediately.

https://youtu.be/D8myaMkiZAQ

Top Tips for Gong Bao Ji Ding

  • You don’t have to eat all of the chillies and peppercorns in the dish. They are included to flavour the oil that coats the chicken. That said, many people (myself included) love crunching on a bit of chilli and Sichuan pepper when eating this dish.
  • Sichuanese cuisine is known for its ‘ma-la’ – the hot and numbing sensation of the combination of Sichuan pepper and chilli, but you also need to pay attention to the balance of tastes in the dish. The taste profile of Sichuanese food is sweeter than many give it credit for, so make sure the sugar and vinegar in the sauce are well balanced.
Chicken with Cashew Nuts

Chicken with Cashew Nuts and Kungpao Chicken are two of the most popular Westernised Chinese dishes, and it may surprise you to find that they are both based on the same Sichuan dish – a phenomenally popular dish known around China as Gong bao ji ding (宫保鸡丁), which literally means “The Palace Guardian’s Diced Chicken”.

Quite different to a true Gong bao ji ding, Chicken with Cashew Nuts is nevertheless a great family dish. It came about as a result of ingredients being substituted to a traditional gong bao ji ding to create a dish that used ingredients commonly found in the West, and which also suited the Western palate. Basically a dish of chicken, capsicum/peppers and nuts in a brown sauce, the capsicum/peppers replaces gong bao ji ding’s abundance of dried chilli and this dish uses chicken thigh instead of chicken breast. Of course, there is no Sichuan pepper to be found. My kids love it.

Ingredients

400g chicken thigh fillet, cut into medallions

1 tbsp soy sauce

1 tbsp Shaoxing wine

2 tsp cornflour

¼ cup vegetable oil

3 slices ginger, bruised

5 cloves garlic, peeled and roughly chopped

1 small brown onion, peeled and cut into 3cm chunks

½ red capsicum, cut into 3cm chunks

½ yellow capsicum, cut into 3cm chunks

½ green capsicum, cut into 3cm chunks

½ cup unsalted roasted cashew nuts

Sauce

2 tbsp oyster sauce

1 tbsp soy sauce

1 tbsp Shaoxing wine

1 tbsp white vinegar

1 tsp sugar

¼ cup chicken stock or water

 

Method

Combine the sauce ingredients and set aside. Combine the chicken with the remaining 1 tbsp soy sauce and 1 tbsp Shaoxing wine and 1 tsp of the cornflour and mix well to coat the chicken.

Heat the wok over high heat until very hot and add 2 tbsp of oil around its edge, letting it run down into the centre of the wok. Add the ginger and then the garlic and toss for about 30 seconds until the garlic is browned, add the chicken and fry, tossing the wok occasionally until the chicken is browned and barely cooked through. Remove the chicken from the wok and set aside.

Return the wok to the heat and add the additional 1 tbsp of oil. Add the onion and capsicum and toss the wok until the capsicum begins to soften. Add the sauce ingredients and bring the sauce to a simmer. Return the chicken to the wok, add the sauce, stir and bring to a simmer. Combine the remaining cornflour with 2 tbsp of cold water. Drizzle in the cornflour mixture until the contents of the wok are thickened to a silky consistency. Toss through the cashews and serve.

Top Tips for Chicken with Cashew Nuts

  • If you like this, why not try making a true gong bao ji ding?
  • Don’t use salted nuts, as it will affect the seasoning of your dish.
  • If you don’t have multiple colours of peppers, just use one. It won’t make too much difference to the dish except in the presentation.
Okinawan Taco Rice

The history of taco rice is one of practical simplicity. After the Second World War, the islands of Okinawa became host to a number of US military bases, many of which remain today. Taco rice dates just to 1984, from a eatery called Parlor Senri in Kin Town, just outside the Camp Hansen military base.

Surplus rations of taco seasoning were sold into the communities surrounding the base and, as the shells and tortillas American-style tacos, Gibo used rice instead and taco rice was born. The dish soon became a huge hit with both locals and US service personnel alike.

This is the most authentic and simple version of this dish – made with packet taco seasoning and jarred salsa, just like it’s made in Okinawa. This version is as close as it comes to a piece of history, and is still what’s served at my favourite taco rice place, King Tacos, which Gibo opened as a permanent home for his now-iconic dish.

Ingredients

Serves about 6

2 tbsp vegetable oil

500g beef mince

1 packet taco seasoning*

1 tbsp soy sauce

150ml bonito stock (see page XX), chicken stock or water

8 cups warm, cooked short-grain rice

4 cups shredded cheese

6 cups finely shredded iceberg lettuce

2 ripe tomatoes, halved and sliced

1 cup mild salsa, to serve

* (If you don’t want to use packet taco seasoning, you can use this recipe instead: 1 tsp onion powder, 1 tsp garlic powder, 1 tsp salt, 1 tbsp ground cumin, 1 tbsp smoked paprika, and 2 tsp dried oregano)

Method

Heat a frying pan over medium heat and add the beef mince. Fry for a few minutes until well browned, then add the taco seasoning, soy sauce and bonito stock. Bring to a simmer and simmer, stirring occasionally until the stock is evaporated and the meat flavourful.

Place a mound of rice on a large oval plate and top with a quarter of the mince. Scatter with cheese, and then with lettuce. Lay a few slices of tomato on top and serve with the salsa.

Top Tips for Taco Rice

  • King Tacos doesn’t serve it, but one of my favourite accompaniments with taco rice is koregusu, an Okinawan condiment similar to chilli vodka. Hot bird’s eye chillies are de-stemmed and soaked in Okinawa’s local liquor, awamori, for years with a little salt added. Make your own using vodka instead.
  • You can make variations of this by topping it with a cheese sauce, making your own pico de gallo, adding additional herbs etc. but I just wanted to show you the original way of making it because honestly, I think it’s the best.