Ingredients for the egg fried rice: 3 cups of basmati rice, 1 medium leek, 4 eggs, 1 tbsp fish sauce, 2 tbsp cooking sake, 2 tbsp soy sauce (or more, depending on how salty you like your rice to be)
Seasonings: pinch of Himalaya salt, pinch of black pepper
Ingredients for the king prawns: 300 gr king prawns, 4 tbsp cooking sake, 2 tbsp sesame oil, sesame seeds (optional – for decoration)
Spices: 1 tbsp grated ginger, 1 tbsp Cayenne pepper powder (1 tsp if you don’t like spicy dishes), a pinch of black pepper
Back in 2010 I moved to Tōkyō for a year after winning an exchange programme between my home university in Italy and the Tōkyō University of Foreign Studies. Moving to Japan was a dream coming true and I was so eager to experience every single moment of the hectic and crazy, yet so traditional Japanese lifestyle.
‘Why Japan and why Japanese?’ are questions that I have been asked many times and to be honest, there is no specific reason behind. I decided to study Japanese after reading Arthur Golden’s Memoirs of a Geisha. I was mesmerized by it and by the enigmatic and enchanting world of geishas and of the city of Kyōto. I was so fascinated by autumn and spring colors, by the sound of the shamisen, by the calligraphy, by the meticulous food decoration, by the quintessential kindness of the Japanese people. In one word, by everything and that’s why I decided that I wanted to learn everything about Japan, its language, culture and historical background. I could probably write an entire book about Japan, but for now I prefer to leave it here and there will be certainly more to come, so stay tuned ^_^
Autumn colours in Kamakura – 紅葉 (kōyō)
Fushimi Inari shintoist shrine near Kyōto
The most common belief is that the average Japanese eats only sushi 24 hours per day, 7 days a week. If truth be told, I used to think the same, but I was soon proved wrong. Traditional Japanese cuisine – 和食 washoku – comprises very simple, yet distinguished dishes which take advantage of the natural surroundings: rice and fish are the core essence of it, but there are many other delicacies like okonomiyaki (a sort of pancake with cabbage used as a main ingredient), miso, rāmen and meat based sukiyaki, nabe and shabu shabu. And to add some trivia: in 2012 Japanese cuisine has been official added by UNESCO to its Intangible Cultural Heritage!
A huge bowl of rāmen in Hakone
Today I wanted to share with you a very quick recipe and one of everyone’s favourite side dishes: Japanese egg fried rice. Usually it will be made with leftovers from the day before and that would explain why there are so many different recipes out there and the one with carrots and peas seem to be the most common one. Surprisingly enough, when I was in Japan I have never come across that particular type! It took me a while to find the right recipe and it involved a lot of surfing through Japanese websites in order to get the authentic taste that I got so used to in my days in Tōkyō. And voilà! The secret lies all in the the sauces used, in particular in the mixture between the fish sauce, which has an incredibly strong taste on its own so I wouldn’t recommend to overdose it , cooking sake and the evergreen soy sauce. The balance of the three of them is what makes the Japanese egg fried rice so tasty, salty and aromatic. おいしい！！
Note: ideally, you should use Japanese rice which has been previously cooked following the Japanese way. Since I haven’t properly mastered this technique yet, I have chosen basmati rice instead.
the 5 senses method:
EGG FRIED RICE
serves 2 (as main dish) – serves 4 (as side dish)
- Cook the basmati rice as per instructions on the package. Once cooked, keep it in the sauce pan and set aside.
- In the meantime, wash the leak and chop it. You should use ¾ of a medium leek, leaving out the root and the top stalks.
- Mix the eggs in a bowl, adding salt and pepper as per your taste. Heat the olive oil in a small frying pan, add the beaten eggs and stir until they are scrambled. Once ready, set aside.
- In a wok, heat the olive oil and when it’s hot, add the cooked rice in batches and stir until fried. Once all grains are coated with oil, firstly add the leek and give it a stir. Next add the scrambled eggs and stir all together.
- Keep stirring, adding the fish sauce, the cooking sake and the soy sauce as you go. Continue stirring and, if necessary, adjust the seasoning as per your taste.
MARINATED KING PRAWNS
- Wash the king prawns, drain.
- Place the king prawns in a bowl and marinate them by adding cooking sake, grated ginger, Cayenne pepper powder and a pinch of black pepper. Mix them well, so that the king prawns are evenly coated in the marinade. Leave to chill in the fridge for one hour.
- Heat a small frying pan in sesame oil. Once hot, add the king prawns, leaving the marinade aside at this stage, and fry until cooked.
- Put on a plate and add a sprinkle of sesame oil and sesame seeds for decoration purposes.
- For better results, coat the king prawns in organic white flour prior to frying.