I thought it might be nice to take a break from my regularly scheduled programming and share with you a great insight I’ve had recently about fried rice. Here in America, fried rice usually brings to mind Panda Express and a steam pan of dried-out white rice turned brown by the addition of soy sauce. In my younger days I would always opt for it because I thought white rice was boring, but it’s never been that appetizing.1
Oddly, in the five months I spent in China, I never came across fried rice, so my conception of it never evolved beyond the Panda Express version. Then a few weeks ago at a restaurant2 in the San Gabriel Valley, I was served this bowl of fried rice:
It was a revelation! No soy sauce whatsoever. It was moist and ten times as delicious as the slop I’d been eating at Panda. The secret, as it turned out, was that the rice was dotted with tiny cubes of salted pork. That mixed with sliced scallions and tossed with oil in a wok for a couple minutes was a big draw for this restaurant, eulogized on Yelp and ordered at every table.
Shortly thereafter I accidentally bought some 塩鮭 at a Japanese supermarket. That is, salted salmon. (It’s not my fault; in English it was only labeled “Salmon”. It’s usually latinized as some variation on shioyake, shiojake, or shiozake.) At any rate, it’s intensely salty. Unable to eat it as I had originally intended, I realized that it would be the perfect ingredient for a fried rice dish inspired by my earlier experience. Hence the following recipe was born: