Thursday, September 1, 2011

Topping stir-fried with deep-fried

For months now, I've been thinking to myself, "I really must batter something one of these days". The reason behind this slightly unusual aspiration is that there are three different batter recipes in the fish chapter, and I hadn't yet tried any of them.

So, last night I decided to have a go at crispy Chinese batter (p113). Of course, I had to find something to coat with it: luckily, I happened to have some prawns in the freezer. But what to have with the prawns? How about fried rice (p105)? Battered, deep-fried prawns on fried rice - sounds like a decent dinner to me!

I was uncharacteristically organised and set about cooking the rice and thawing the prawns and bacon while I watched Masterchef. Fried rice is the sort of dish you're supposed to make with leftover rice, but I had to cook mine specially.

So when I'd finished watching TV, my rice was ready and I was able to start cooking straight away. I spread the rice out on a tray to dry, and started preparing the other ingredients. Firstly, I beat egg with a little soy sauce and cooked it omelet-style in my frypan. Stupidly, I didn't think to use my 'wok', and the egg spread very thinly across the wide flat base of my ordinary frypan.

It didn't matter though: I still got the desired result. The omelet took only a minute or two to cook, so I removed it from the pan and started cooking the bacon. While the bacon was cooking, I sliced the omelet into thin strips.

With both bacon and egg cooked and ready, I added chopped spring onion to the pan with crushed garlic and grated ginger. After a brief stir-fry, I added the rice.

Meanwhile, my oil had been heating for the prawns. Crispy Chinese batter consists of only two ingredients: cornflour and egg white. Coating the prawns in cornflour, dipping them in lightly beaten egg white, then deep-frying them didn't sound too difficult, but since I was trying to deal with the fried rice at the same time, (and take photos of everything) I soon found myself wishing I had an extra hand or two.

It was quite astonishing how much the batter bubbled up in the oil. The first ones I did were more successful than the later ones; I suspect I ought to have beaten the egg white up again when I was half-way through. Very quickly the prawns were cooked and draining on paper towels, and I was able to turn my attention back to the fried rice.

The rice had been stir-frying for around five minutes, so it was time to add the final touches - returning the bacon and egg strips to the pan, and allowing them to heat through, before stirring through a little soy sauce to finish it all off.

The crispy Chinese batter was delicious: light, crunchy and slightly eggy-tasting. It's hard to believe something so simple could taste so good. The fried rice was also very yummy, but I think there's potential to make it a bit healthier by reducing the bacon (seriously: it seemed like about half the dish was made up of bacon) and adding a few more veges. Either way, it's pretty much a meal in itself, so while adding prawns to the top may have been tasty, it wasn't really necessary.

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