The city of Yangzhou in Jiangsu province is the birthplace of Young Chow fried rice (also known as Yung Chow fried rice or Yeung Chow fried rice). We no longer eat “Yang Zhou” fried rice, but rather “Young Chow” because the proprietors of the first Chinese restaurants had to adapt the dish’s name from their own dialect to the English spelling of the terms.
If I were to venture a guess, I’d say that of all the other kinds of fried rice (egg, pork, chicken, beef, vegetable, etc.), this Young Chow Fried Rice is the only one that can be traced directly from the West back to China.
In the old Chinese society, who prepared roast pork fried rice, or even roast pork, in the manner, it is prepared today?
I’m going to guess no one.
Perhaps the dish’s original ingredients—shrimp, cured ham (similar to pancetta or prosciutto), eggs, and scallion—were utilized during the Qing dynasty (1754-1815). Still, nobody knows for sure (any Chinese food historians out there reading this?). This dish is now a standard on delivery menus, but it was originally prepared for the emperor himself!
House fried rice and Banquet fried rice, both modern takes on an old classic, are only two examples. While this is undoubtedly a Young Chow fried rice dish, several Chinese cooks are out there, each with their unique spin on this takeaway staple, so we’ll be taking a few creative liberties of our own.
- 5 cups of cooked rice
- 3 tbsp. of oil
- 2 large eggs (beaten)
- 4 oz. of fresh shrimp (40-60 size, deveined and shells removed)
- 1 medium-sized onion (finely diced)
- 1/2 cup of Virginia ham, cut into cubes
- 1/2 cup of Chinese Roast Pork
- 3/4 cup of thawed frozen peas
- 1 1/2 tsp. of salt
- ¼ tsp. of sugar
- 1 tsp. of Shaoxing wine
- 2 scallions (finely chopped)
- 2 cups of finely chopped romaine or iceberg lettuce
- 1/8 tsp. of freshly ground white pepper
- Make sure to follow the package’s instructions when cooking the rice. Always use slightly less water than called for in fried rice recipes to avoid a sticky, mushy mess that won’t stir-fry. After cooking, the rice should be allowed to cool at room temperature. After the rice is cooked and the steam has subsided, fluff it with a fork to separate the grains. You can deal with any remaining clumps in the wok, so don’t worry.
- The rice will undoubtedly clump if you put it in the fridge overnight, but it’s easy to separate the grains by hand once it’s cold. If the process causes your hands to become sticky, simply rinse them with cold water at regular intervals.
- Put 1 tablespoon of oil into a hot wok and once it’s hot, add the beaten eggs. Be careful not to overcook the eggs when you scramble them. The eggs should be returned to the original egg bowl and left aside. The shrimp should be blanched in a boiling water kettle and drained. Leave aside.
- The wok should be heated quickly over high heat. Put in the chopped onion and 2 tablespoons of oil.
- Saute the onions in a stir-fry until they become transparent. Stir-fry the ham and pork cubes for 30 seconds afterward. Stir-fry the rice for 2 minutes, making sure it heats up evenly. Any leftover rice clumps can be broken up and spread using a wok spatula.
- Stir-fry the rice for 2 minutes, add the shrimp and peas, and stir-fry for another 2 minutes.
- The rice should then be seasoned with salt and sugar. Shaoxing can create a good sizzle and cook off some of the alcohol in the wine by drizzling it around the edge of the pan. Make sure the seasonings are evenly distributed throughout by mixing everything together.
- Add extra water or chicken stock if the rice appears dry or a little more oil if you’re going for authenticity (but be careful; too much of either will make the rice mushy or greasy). Clumped rice can be easily dispersed by adding liquid straight to the mass.
- Then, stir the chopped lettuce, scallions, and white pepper with the scrambled eggs. Stir fry until the lettuce is wilted but still crisp, then serve!