Vegetable Fried Rice (chǎo fàn, 炒飯)

Fried rice is one of the quickest Chinese dishes to make; it’s also one of the cheapest. When making fried rice all you need is rice and vegetables. You can make it with beef, chicken or top it with scrambled eggs. It’s very easy to make, especially for beginner cooks, and it gives me a chance to try some new Chinese ingredients.

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Although I am not a vegetarian, I prefer to eat vegetarian Chinese dishes. I think that most of the sauces and spices used in Chinese cooking compliment vegetables and tofu well. Plus, Chinese vegetables are different from the ones we use in the U.S. The Woks of Life, a blog that focuses on traditional and non-traditional Chinese dishes has a whole glossary dedicated to Chinese vegetables. For this recipe, I decided to keep it simple with carrots and broccoli. However, in the past, I have used bok choy, scallions, bean sprouts, edamame and many other vegetables.

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If you are going to try to make fried rice at home, I suggest that you have everything mise en place. This is a fancy French word meaning “putting in place”. Since you will have to work quickly when cooking the ingredients, it’s almost necessary to put all of your ingredients in separate bowls. If you don’t have everything in place, your food can burn and it will be disastrous, trust me.

Don’t be afraid to make fried rice at home. It’s simple to make and doesn’t require much time or money. Even in Nanjing, it’s cheaper for me to make friend rice at home than buying it at a restaurant. Lastly, it’s an easy way to start exploring the world of Chinese cooking.

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Vegetable Fried Rice
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Vegetable Fried Rice
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Ingredients
  • 6 Chinese spoons soy sauce
  • 2 Chinese spoons sesame oil
  • 3 cups cooked white rice
  • 2 carrots chopped
  • 1 head broccoli cut into small pieces
  • 1/2 white onion diced
  • 3 garlic cloves minced
  • 3 tablespoons oil sunflower or vegetable oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon white pepper
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 1 pinch white sugar
Servings:
Instructions
  1. In a bowl, mix the sesame oil, soy sauce, white pepper, salt, and sugar together. Set the bowl to the side.
  2. Heat your skillet or wok on medium heat and add the oil.
  3. Next, add the onions and garlic to the skillet and allow them to cook for two minutes. Make sure to consistently move them around the pan so they don't burn.
  4. Then add the carrots and broccoli. Cook for another two to three minutes.
  5. Finally, add the rice and sauce. Mix the ingredients together well. Allow the rice to cool for a minute before serving.
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No Cream Caramel Sauce

Caramel sauce is bittersweet. It can be simple to make, but it can also be difficult if you do not have the right ingredients. I found this out while making the Mini Icebox Pies. My friend brought home some extra whipping cream, and I placed it in the fridge for about an hour so that it could cool. Well, while making the whip cream, I noticed that it began to curdle. I freaked out a little bit and got a little frustrated. I strained out the curdles, and whipped it twice more. It began to separate again so I knew something was wrong. After doing some research, I discovered that the cream had began to separate into curdles and I was making butter. At first I thought ” WOW! I am making butter!”. Then I thought “Crap! I am making butter not whip cream.” The grocery store was closed, so I had to make lemons into lemonade, or curdled cream into butter. After a few minutes, of pacing around the kitchen, I decided that I should make a milk based caramel sauce.

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The sauce turned out better than I expected, and it was very delicious. The only suggestion I would give is to make sure you use good butter. The only butter that is available in my town is yellow, unsalted butter from New Zealand. This kind of butter is very different from the white butter I used back in the United States. I used a mixture of that and the butter I accidently created. It was still sweet and very good, but there was a little bit of a difference in taste from a normal caramel sauce.

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***I consulted Sally’s Baking Addiction’s Caramel Sauce recipe when I was making my version of caramel sauce. It was pretty easy to follow and I highly suggest using it if you want to try to make your own caramel sauce.***

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No Cream Caramel Sauce
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No Cream Caramel Sauce
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Ingredients
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 pinches salt
  • 1 1/4 cup milk
Servings:
Instructions
  1. On medium-low heat, warm the sugar in a saucepan. The sugar will form clumps, but continue to warm the sugar until it is a brown in color. To prevent the sugar from being burned, make sure to consistently stir the sugar while it is warming in the pan. This part of the process can take up to seven minutes.
  2. Next, add in the butter and allow it to melt.
  3. Then add the milk . Stir the milk into the sugar and butter mixture. Allow it to boil for one minute.
  4. After the caramel has boiled for one minute, take the pan off of the stove top and stir in the salt.
  5. Before serving, allow the caramel to cool for about five minutes.
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Mini Icebox Pies

A few weeks ago, I promised my students that I would make them some food, because they had been so well behaved and consistently participated in class. I kept my promise and made them Mini Icebox Pies. Most of them are familiar with some foods from the United States, but I wanted to introduce them to something new. Personally, I really like Icebox Pies. They are so easy to make, and barely take anytime. After doing some research, I thought it would be nice to make them a smaller version of this pie.

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The making of these sweet treats was quite an endeavor. First of all, I had to make fifty of them. I didn’t really think about that when I first offered to make them food, but I really like my students, so it was worth it. Also, I didn’t consider the fact that I was going to have to whip enough cream to fill fifty cups. Lastly, I had to improvise some ingredients, because some of the ingredients, such as graham crackers, are not available in my town. Overall, it was an experience.

 

iceboxpiecollage

Mini Icebox Pies
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Mini Icebox Pies
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Ingredients
  • 1-2 boxes semi-sweet crackers you can use graham crackers or something similar.
  • 3 cartons heavy whipping cream
  • 6 tablespoons white sugar
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 2 sticks unsalted butter melted
Servings:
Instructions
  1. Whip the heavy whipping cream, either by hand or with a mixer, until small peaks are formed. Gradually add in the sugar and the cinnamon. Mix for thirty seconds. Then, place the whip cream in the fridge.
  2. Next, finely grind the graham crackers in a food processor. Take most of the crackers, set some of the crackers to the side as a topping, and place them in a bowl.
  3. Then, add the butter and thoroughly mix both of the ingredients.
  4. To assemble the pie, place a little over a tablespoon of the cracker and butter mixture at the bottom of the cup. Next, press the crackers down until they are flat. Then, add two tablespoons of whip cream. Finally, top the whip cream with a sprinkle of the leftover crackers.
  5. Place the pies in the freezer for two hours and then serve.
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