October 6, 2017

Sibu Tales : Fried Rice

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I was once told by a chef that you could tell the skills of a chef by asking him to fry rice for you. He also mentioned that his mentor told him that he had not fully learned Asian cooking if he could not do the perfect fried rice.

A discussion once with a long time friend also brought up the topic of fried rice. When he was studying in Taiwan, he worked part time as a kitchen assistant for the whole length of his studies. He learned one very important lesson from the chief cook. He said that the chief cook was very much influenced by the Americans. He learned that all the ingredients must be cut in exactly the same size, the size of peas, including the Chinese sausages. Then the last ingredient to add was a large and generous knob of butter. The fried rice must come out piping hot!!

As a person growing up in Sibu, I find fried rice a good dish to prepare for any occasion. And packaging the fried rice to bring to school would always be a good practice to do as it is a meal in itself. My greatest fear has always been the rice going bad. It would be heartbreaking for the child to find fried rice going bad during recess. Many mothers have this terrible guilt in the recesses of their minds.

My paternal grandfather had always reminded us of his early days in Sibu in the 1900's when he was not used to the humid and hot weather of the new land. He would cook his rice early in the morning and by the time he was hungry in afternoon, his pot of rice would turn bad. He had often to forego rice, worked hard throughout the day with just the vegetable soup.

Later in life my fried rice would be just simple rice fried with garlic.

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