Tuesday, January 31, 2012

So I guess I'm Competitive...Thai-Korean Fusion Fried Rice

So this is a pretty big week for me in my culinary career: competition week! You may recall my post last year about a competition I was in (check out the post!)? Wellllll I'm at it again! With an awesome team this time! I can't wait to share allllll about it, but that's going to take a while and since the competition is THIS WEEKEND and we'll be meeting for practice all week...I may not have the time and energy to give it a good posting. Plus it will be more fun to talk about it afterwards when I can relay the whole story! So stay tuned!
Now you're wondering "What IS this post all about? Just a teaser?" Well actually, there is aNOTHER competition I've just entered that I AM going to tell you about! (Who knew I was such a competitive person???) This competition is through the American Culinary Federation (
learn more), which I am a member of through my school. This is the "What's in Your Wok? Fried Rice Competition". The challenge was to submit a signature fried rice recipe with these rules:
1) Must create four entree servings using either white, brown, or minute rice

2) The rice must represent NO LESS than 50% of the recipe
3) Limit of 15 ingredients
4) Must take no more than 20 minutes to cook.
5) The only permitted cooking vessel is a Browne Foodservice 12" Stainless Triply Induction Wok with natural finish

Doesn't sound too hard, right? Well here's where this gets interesting...First of all, I didn't find out about this competition until about a week before the recipes were due, so I had to work fast not only to write down my recipe and fill out the forms, but also to COME UP with a signature recipe and take pictures and all that jazz. Did I mention I'd never made fried rice before? Yeah....so what did I do? I stalked around my favorite inspiration sites and wrote down all of the components and plating designs that I liked best so I could see what I wanted MY signature dish to be. I wrote down all kinds of ingredient ideas from mangoes to fish sauce, but in the end, my favorite came from two popular versions of fried rice: Korean and Thai.
My next step was to design my own recipe, something I've only done a few times. I wrote down how many servings it needed to make, how large I wanted each serving to be, and then broke down the ingredients into what seemed like reasonable portions. The next step was simply to get the ingredients, take an afternoon to cook and experiment and photograph, and then cross my fingers that SOMETHING would come out, because by then I only had one day to get my submission in!

I was SO shocked and pleased!! Not only did my first batch come out GREAT, I only had to make 1 small change to my recipe and I had a winner! Even my mom, who is a wonderful food critic of mine, said she would order it at restaurant (and there were ingredients in there that she doesn't even like!) I personally was also very satisfied with how it came out tasting and looking. Not too crazy, not ordinary, balanced, simple method, complex flavors. :) Totally Skylar. 
Now that my recipe is in, it's a waiting game of sorts. Only 4 competitors from my region will be selected to prepare their recipes at the ACF Regional Convention in New York this April, from which the winner will receive $250 and the change to compete again in July at the National Convention in July, taking place in Orlando to compete for $1,000! Woah how cool would that be?! Pretty AWESOME! Not that I'm expecting to win or anything (did I mention both the CIA (New York) AND Johnson and Wales (Providence) are within my region of competitors?? - these are two of America's greatest cooking schools FYI) But that's okay with me, I just have satisfaction in submitting something I'm proud of :) Besides, if I DID get selected, I don't know what I'd so since I've already put down $50 to go on a retreat with friends that same weekend as the competition would be....that just goes to show how little faith I have in my chances of being selected  :p haha
But even if I am not chosen, and I don't get to win this time, I think you guys will like the recipe and I hope some of you give it a try (including the kimchi! I got my kimchi-prejudiced mom to love this stuff, remember?). Hope everyone has a fannntastic week, I'll be in the kitchen, cooking, practicing, cleaning, preparing, and thoroughly wearing myself out, but that's what the passion's all about, right? Hope to talk to ya soon, POST-competition! :D

Thai-Korean Fusion Fried Rice

§  4 large eggs
§  2 Tablespoons and 2 teaspoons sesame oil, separated
§  1 Tablespoon peanut oil*
§  ½ cup minced shallot or onion
§  1 Tablespoon minced garlic
§  2 teaspoons fresh ginger paste
§  2 cups cooked long-grain brown rice, at least one day old*
§  2 Tablespoons tamari or soy sauce*
§  1 Tbsp fresh lime juice
§  1 cup roughly chopped kimchi*
§  ½ cup shelled, cooked edamame*
§  ¾ cup small-diced fresh pineapple
§  ½ tsp fresh lime zest (to garnish)
§  ½ tsp dried red pepper flakes (to garnish)
§  4 half slices of fresh lime (to garnish)

1)      In a wok, heat 1-2 Tbsp of sesame oil over medium-low heat (see Notes below). Gently drop the eggs into the hot oil and fry eggs sunny-side up until the whites are cooked through, leaving the yolk liquid.
2)     Gently remove the eggs from the wok and place on a separate plate. Set aside.
3)     Add the peanut oil and the remaining sesame oil to the wok and bring to medium-high heat. Add the shallots, garlic, and ginger, and sauté until the shallots are translucent and soft.
4)     Add the rice and fry it for a minute or two, stirring constantly. Add the tamari and lime juice and continue stirring to coat as the liquid cooks into the rice. Add the kimchi and stir to combine as the liquid cooks into the rice. Turn off the heat, add the edamame and pineapple and stir to combine. Taste and adjust seasoning as needed.
5)      To plate: Fill an 8oz measuring cup with the fried rice, pressing to compress it and hold it together. Quickly, with some force, turn the measuring cup over onto serving plate and remove so that a mound of rice is formed. Top the rice with a fried egg and pierce the yolk so that it pours down over the rice. Sprinkle a few red pepper flakes and a bit of lime zest over the top to garnish and place a slice of lime on the side for squeezing.  

Serves 4

- YOU'RE RICE MUST BE OLD. If there is one thing fried-rice experts DO agree on, it would be this statement. In order to make even decent fried rice, the rice needs to have at least a day to sick and get kindof dry and hard so that it actually fries and doesn't turn into a big mushy MESS. This is annoying as it means you can't have this as a last minute quick meal ANY time, but it is also an awesome way to use up left-over rice that is dry and blaaaah otherwise. More than one-day old is fine, I've done 3 days, and tomorrow my rice will be like week old and I've got no worries. So make big batches of rice and you can make fried rice to your hearts desire!
- I used a non-stick frying pan to make my rice, I only put "wok" in the recipe to fulfill the requirements. I don't even OWN a wok, so feel free to use whatever pan you think will work best!
- Kimchi, an extremely important food in Korea, is a strong-flavored, usually spicy, fermented cabbage condiment that takes some getting used to, but isn't too scared when eaten in combination with other foods as done here. It comes in glass jars usually and can be found in most grocery stores with good international sections.
- You can buy peanut oil or do what I did and just use the layer that has formed on your homemade natural peanut butter that's been sitting on the shelf, unloved for far too long.
- Tamarigluten-free and usually lower in sodium.
- Edamame are fresh soy beans, which are green and resemble lima beans. You can usually find them shelled in the frozen section or sometimes fresh and unshelled in the produce area. The shells are indigestible so only eat the beans.

Mmmmm so good! I hope to recreate this tomorrow using different ingredients since I have run out of some and want to try throwing in some other fun stuff :)

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