Growing up in a mixed culture household, rice often graced our dinner table. While other families dined on mashed potatoes with creamy gravy, we ate a ton of white rice smothered in that same delicious gravy. Oh sure, if there were a roast in the oven, it was a safe bet that our starchy side for the evening were potatoes. However; more often than not those spuds were not mashed but rather quartered and roasted alongside the beef, soaking in all those wonderful flavors of the pan drippings.
Mom was Filipino, so rice was a must in our house with almost every meal – including breakfast. On the other end of the culinary spectrum is Dad – an Okie through and through. That meant just about everything we ate was swimming in a healthy serving of pan-drip gravy. I am here to tell you, even today dear old Dad can whip up an awesome gravy from just about anything. He doesn’t use a roux to thicken his gravy. Pops puts about a cup or so of whole milk into a mason jar with a tablespoon or so of flour. He then screws the lid on tight and shakes the daylights out of the jar until the flour is fully consumed into the milk, creating a thicker milky mixture. Only then would Dad pour his thickened milk into a heated skillet (always a well-seasoned cast iron pan – just about the only skillet needed in southern cooking) along with any pan drippings. Over a very low heat, continually scrapping the bottom of the skillet with a metal spatula, Dad would work his magic. His gravy would begin to thicken further to become this smooth, flavorful sauce in about 10 or 15 minutes. As a child, it seemed the gravy took forever! I loved Dad’s gravy so much that, should any be remaining at the end of the meal, I put some while bread in the middle of my empty dinner plate and covered it in gravy. (A habit I’ve continued to this day).
If Dad made gravy, Mom almost always made a pot of white rice. She boiled her rice, making sure to create a nice layer of Tutong at the bottom of the pot. (Tutong is one of the few Filipino words I learned as a child. It refers to the crisp, toasted rice remaining in the pot). Personally, I’ve never developed a taste for Tutong, but I know a lot of Filipinos who consider toasted rice to be sarap! (Delicious!)
Mom’s rendition of Fried Rice is very basic. I had forgotten just how basic her fried rice truly is until recently, when we made some Fabulous Filipino Barbecue to serve alongside my Filipino Egg Rolls – Lumpia and I needed a nice side dish to round out the meal. Kiddo gobbled up the fried rice as though he had never had a more delicious rice dish in his entire life. Even Hubby, who prefers white rice as a side to most Filipino or Chinese dishes, went for this simple yet flavorful fried rice.
Recently I had lunch with my baby sister and our Dad at a little strip-mall Filipino Restaurant. As usual when we get together, the subject of childhood dishes came around. Needless to say in a Filipino Restaurant, Mom’s simple Fried Rice was a big part of the conversation. About the only change I’ve made to my Mom’s Fried Rice recipe was to add a package of Sun-Bird Fried Rice Seasoning, found in the International or Oriental section of most grocery stores. I like the added authentic Asian flavor it brings to my Mom’s rice recipe. The bright yellow packet is easy to find. While the mix has its own set of instructions, I simply sprinkle the powered seasoning right into the rice.
Basic Fried Rice with Bacon
4 Strips Bacon, cooked crisp
3 or 4 Green Onions, chopped
2 Eggs, beaten
3 Cups White Rice (day-old best)
1 Package Sun-Bird Fried Rice Seasoning
2 tablespoons Soy Sauce or to taste
Black Pepper to taste
1 Pinch Kosher Salt to taste
In a large, flat-bottom skillet or griddle pan, fry bacon until crisp.
While the bacon is frying, chop up the green onions and set aside until ready to use.
In a small bowl, beat eggs and have at the ready.
When the bacon is finished cooking, remove from skillet and place on paper towels to cool while absorbing any excess fat drippings.
Pour all but about a tablespoon or so of the bacon drippings into a jar and store in the refrigerator for other uses.
Pour remaining bacon drippings into a wok over medium heat. Add beaten egg and begin to scramble. Eggs should be runny, and just beginning to set when cold rice is added to the wok.
Continue to scramble the eggs and rice together, separating the rice grains as they warm in the eggs. Make sure the eggs and rice are well-blended together and that the eggs are now fully cooked.
Crumble bacon into the fried rice. Sprinkle seasoning mix over everything. Add 1 tablespoon of soy sauce to help seasoning mix into the rice. Add a second tablespoon of soy sauce and mix well.
Toss green onions into the fried rice, folding to distribute the bacon throughout the rice. Season with a little black pepper.
Taste the rice and adjust the seasoning with a pinch of salt. Stir to blend. Taste rice a second time, adding more soy sauce if needed.
Serve and enjoy.
Note: This rice is great as a substitute to Breakfast Potatoes. Simply serve with a grilled Ham Steaks and Fried Eggs.