An Experiment with Fried Rice

Seems every region that has rice as a primary food staple also has a version of fried rice as part of their cuisine. It’s not commonly seen in restaurants around here, but the Japanese also have their own version of fried rice. While I can’t seem to find any key flavors that make a Japanese fried rice “Japanese”, it seems the core ingredient that differentiates it is the short grain Japanese rice… which makes sense. Fried rice is made with leftover rice from past meals, so naturally for Japan, that would be Japanese short grain.

While restaurant menus and certain Youtube reaction-ers would have you believe there are ONLY specific ways to put together a fried rice, for the home cook, fried rice is a dish meant to use up leftovers by combining them together (with new ingredients like eggs) into a new dish. So I thought, why not try to make a fried rice dish using Japanese-inspired ingredients?

This experiment, perhaps, is an example where too much substitution changes the dish so much that you can no longer taste the original inspiration.

I started with salt-brined fish, a technique I’ve used in the past to make salted salmon (shiozake) or salted sea bass, except I used rock cod instead (it was what was available to me at the time). This part wasn’t too bad, but it was very salty and I perhaps added too much to the fried rice, wanting to use up the fish in my fridge before it went bad.

My downhill spiral was probably when I started adding ingredients like red sweet peppers and zucchini. Again, my goal was to try to use up what was in my fridge, but the flavors didn’t work together well into anything “Japanese” tasting by this point.

So for fun, I added bacon.

And finally, if you haven’t noticed from the photo… the rice I had leftover was basmati, not Japanese short grain. Personally…. I like making fried rice with basmati. It naturally is not sticky and stir fries easily as a result. Stickier rice requires some manual labor to break it apart before adding it to a pan or wok.

My end result? Salty. Edible, but not that great. Oh well. Haha.

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