By Chef Mike Wiley of Eventide in Portland, Maine and Boston
Fried Rice is one of my all-time favorite dishes. Before my cooking took a more professional (and competent) turn, good fried rice at home was my white whale. Invariably, I would destroy the kitchen, set off the smoke detectors, burn myself, and lose my temper only to have a greasy sodden mess on my hands. One of the great gifts of professional cooking is mise en place, everything in its place: laying out all of your ingredients before you start. This practice is the cornerstone of good fried rice.
I make no claims to authenticity here (things would look a lot different with a wok burner). Don’t worry about enough BTU firepower, it really doesn’t matter that much, just proceed methodically and you’ll have fluffy, flavorful and lightly crunchy toasted rice. Some will blanch that I haven’t included soy sauce or stir-fry sauce. I’d rather get my salinity and savoriness from dried sources of umami (fermented black beans, dried scallops, and cured pork). If you don’t have these ingredients on hand and must use a brown savory sauce, stir it in as a final step and go light—too much liquid affects the texture and stains the rice. Enjoy!
Serves 2 to 3
8 large scallops , abductor muscle removed and reserved
¾ cup water
¾ cup white rice, uncooked
3 mustard greens, thinly sliced
3-4 tablespoon peanut oil/canola
1-inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and minced
1 garlic clove, minced
Kosher salt, to taste
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1 tablespoon dried pork, shaved and julienned (optional)
1 teaspoon fermented black beans, minced (optional)
1 fat pinch bonito flake
1 pinch espelette pepper
1 pinch Korean chili flake
1 teaspoon sesame seed, lightly toasted
The day before you intend to serve the rice, clean the scallops. Separate the abductor muscle from the scallop proper, but don’t throw them out! While they’re chewy and sort of unpleasant they are undeniably scallop-y, so we dehydrate them. If you’ve got a dehydrator, 140F for an afternoon should do it. Failing that, preheat your oven to 200F, five minutes later turn it off. Place the scallops in the off-oven, and several hours later they will be dry and brittle. That means they’re done.
Place your dried scallop abductors in the bowl of your rice cooker, or wherever you cook your rice. Bring the water to a boil and pour over to make a quick scallop infusion. Once the infusion has cooled (a couple hours later), remove the spent scallop bits and cook the rice.
When the rice is done, spread it out to maximize surface area - we’re looking to lightly dry and quickly cool the rice. Place the rice in the fridge uncovered for at least several hours, and preferably overnight.
When you’re ready to make the fried rice, separate the scallion white from the darker tops. Finely slice the scallion tops and mince the light green and white bottoms.
Gather up your ingredients - It’s mise en place time! Make little piles or grab some cute little containers have everything ready.
In a heavy bottomed pan, cast-iron or stainless steel, sear the scallops hard on one side only. Don’t turn them, transfer them to a paper towel-lined plate, to drain. Season them with salt and pepper.
Cook the mustard greens in the same pan, take advantage of the opportunity to scrape up any caramelized scallop-y goodness. A fish spatula or a wooden spoon would work well here. Continue to cook over medium heat until the greens have dropped their liquid and it has been cooked away. Transfer to a plate.
Rinse your pan quickly, return to the burner and crank the heat. While the pan is heating back up, cut each par-cooked scallop in half. Once you see a whisper of smoke coming off the pan, add a couple tablespoons of oil. When the oil shimmers, but before it’s really smoking, add the rice. Shake it around or stir, making sure to coat each grain with the thinnest film of oil, then STOP. Fight the temptation to touch the rice for a couple minutes, think of this as a searing step.
After you’ve seared your rice on one side, give the pan a gentle shake, the rice should feel/sound less like soft cooked grains moving around the pan, and more like par-cooked rice. If it sounds as though you’ve got a crispy bottom on your bed of rice, toss it twice and add a pinch of salt.
Scoot all the rice to one side of the pan and tilt the pan so that when you add a tablespoon of oil, it collects in a pool opposite the piled rice. Immediately dump ginger, garlic, scallion whites into the oil and stir around to ensure it cooks completely. Toss these cooked aromatics with the rice.
Scatter cured pork and fermented black beans, if using, over the aromatized rice, toss to combine. Appreciate the aroma, you’re killing it. Return the cooked mustard greens to the mix, toss to combine.
Add the par-cooked scallops and cook, stirring the rice for a minute or two just to warm the scallops through. Taste the rice and add salt if necessary.
Pile in a triumphant mound, top with scallion tops and bonito, a pinches of the chile flakes, some sesame seeds and, a few grinds of black pepper. Serve immediately.