Yakimeshi’s literal translation is: Yaki, to cook +fry +grill; Meshi, rice. In Japanese it is also called by the more common name ‘Chahan’. Chahan is the Japanese pronunciation for ‘Choafan’, the Chinese word for fried rice. With the ports cities of Japan opening up in 1860, there was a major influx of Chinese immigrants who brought their cuisine with them. Fried rice and Ramen aka Lo-men were two of the major foods that were introduced to Japan. The major difference between Japanese Yakimeshi, and Chinese Chaofan is the type of rice used. Japanese fried rice is made with the short grain that has a higher starch content resulting in a uniquely springy texture. The Chinese version is made with long grain rice which is dryer resulting in lighter fried rice.
Growing up in the early 80’s, most of the ingredients my parents used in Japan were not available, or were to expensive in Canada, so bacon or ham were a natural replacement for thinly sliced pork belly or char sui. Speed and heat are the keys to fried rice. I learned this quickly when I made fried rice in a professional kitchen in Japan, and the chef threw it out for being mushy!
Recipes and photos by Kaede E. Hirooka, Restaurant Chef at the Marriott in downtown Calgary and co-owner with Jonathon Chung of Respect The Technique.
- 3 eggs, whipped
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1/2 tsp sugar
- 60 g onion brunoise (small dice)
- 80 g carrot brunoise (small dice)
- 100 g bacon, dice 1cm x 1cm
- 8 g ginger, peeled and minced
- 2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
- oil blend equal parts olive and canola
- 600 g day old rice, warmed up
- 15 mm sake or beer
- 40 g green onions, sliced
- 15 mm Shoyu, add more if you like
- Season whipped eggs with salt, pepper and sugar.
- In a saute pan over medium high heat add egg and scramble cooking for 1 minute. Eggs should still be runny. Remove eggs from pan.
- Wipe pan with paper towel and over medium high heat add onions and carrots. Cook until the are soft. Remove mixture to a bowl and set aside. Return pan to heat on low.
- Add bacon and render until fat starts to come out. Add ginger, garlic and cook until they become fragrant. Remove from pan and add to bowl with carrots.
- Add a splash of oil to pan and heat to smoke point. Add rice and season with salt and pepper.
- Pour bacon carrot mixture back into pan and hit the pan with sake around the edges of pan.
- Keep cutting the rice (break rice clumps apart without breaking the grains of rice) and do not over mix. Each grain of rice should be separated. Avoid having pan shaker syndrome (meaning to stop flipping the pan for no reason) home burners are too weak and you will cool the pan too fast resulting in mushy fried rice.
- Add green onion and drizzle Shoyu on the edge of the pan it should instantly caramelize and smell like yakitori (or barbecue) - this is important. Taste for seasoning.
- Fried rice is best done with day old rice the starches have started to break down resulting in each kernel being fried.
- Mixing the rice in a light coating of Mayo before frying prevents the rice from clumping together. It also adds instant Umami.
- You can add pretty much anything you like in addition to the rice in your fried rice to suit your tastes. A hot tip - Adding sharp cheddar at the end can prove to be delicious because the fat works really with salty rice.
- Add Jonny's stunning Rayu (chili sauce)