Alex: I looooove the soy sauce!
Me: OK then here is the fish sauce. Now remember, just like with soy sauce, these are supposed to taste strong, you don’t usually eat them plain, so it is ok if you don’t like it.
Alex: Mommy, I don’t like the fish sauce.
Me (panicking she might now refuse to eat anything with fish sauce because she is 3): That’s OK, but you know you like dishes that have fish sauce.
Alex: Well, MooooommmMMMmmmyyyYY [said in tones of exasperation] I LIKE cooking with fish sauce! I just don’t like eating it plain. OK???!!???!!??
Actually, Alex joined us in sprinkling fish sauce all over her meal tonight. Have I mentioned how happy my kids make me? I never thought I would like the 2s and 3s–but it turns out I find those ages pretty darn entertaining.
Anyway, back to business. I have a favorite marinade for meat or poultry. Or maybe I should say a favorite basic formula. It is Vietnamese–although you see variations of it all over S.E. Asia– and can easily be adapted or Westernized to suit your needs. I have blogged about it before; for me personally, I start with equal amounts of dark soy sauce and fish sauce, add a hefty pinch of sugar (lately I love dark brown sugar), even heftier amount of garlic, and a glug or 2 of oil, and I go from there. I have added ground coriander, ginger, grated lemongrass, galangal, or sometimes nothing at all. It is very flexible.
Anyway, I found this great new blog, The Maltese Bacon, written by a woman of Vietnamese descent. She shared her recipe for Ga Ro Ti, or Vietnamese marinated roasted chicken. The marinade was very familiar to me, being a variant of the marinade I described above. However, what had never occurred to me was using the drippings from frying the chicken skin as the oil for making fried rice. What a fantastic idea.
This was hands down the best and easiest fried rice I have ever made. The whole meal was easy. I started marinading the chicken breasts (breasts are what I keep around–I am sure it is even better with thighs, as Michelle uses in her post) the night before. I also made a pot of jasmine rice the night before, and left it chilling uncovered the next 24 hours to dry it out (tip, in case you did not know: never try to make fried rice with freshly made rice). When I got home, I fried the chicken breasts, skin side down, as she describes. After flipping and removing them to a plate, I deglazed the pan with reserved marinade. I then scraped all of that oily cooked marinade into a large nonstick pan, removing any burnt garlic. I also scraped the juice from the chicken on the plate, after removing the breasts back to the oil glazed pan. When I was ready I heated the nonstick pan, added the whites and light green parts of several scallions. After they were fragrant (I did not add garlic because I had so much in the marinade), I added the rice and tossed it, frying on high heat. When it was almost done I added pineapple chunks, slices of sweet bell pepper and pea pods. Not exactly traditional but it is what I had around and it sounded good. Because I was serving it with the chicken, I did not add egg.
For this specific marinade I used double black soy sauce (I prefer superior dark but am currently out), a good quality fish sauce, dark brown sugar, garlic and lemongrass. I am not including a formal recipe since the point is really more the method.