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Irish Fried Rice was born from the need to do something with leftover corned beef after St. Patrick's Day. Of course, ruebens were made, but with only two of us in the house, we had quite a bit leftover and needed to get creative.
How Chinese Food and Irish Food Are Similar
American Chinese cuisine actually has a number of similarities to the typical American Irish meals. Both use inexpensive vegetables including cabbage and carrots. Both Chinese and Irish dishes often contain an animal protein like beef or pork. And they each include a starch. Chinese food often revolves around rice or noodles, whereas Irish cuisine is known for their potatoes.
With leftover corned beef, cabbage, and carrots, the potatoes can easily be replaced with rice for a new twist on the St. Patrick's Day dish: Irish Fried Rice.
Best Rice for Fried Rice
Day old brown rice is the best rice to use when making fried rice.
Brown rice is a whole grain that provides fiber, protein, some healthy fat, as well as B vitamins and zinc.
If you Google "How to Make Fried Rice," most Chinese cuisine cooks will suggest the secret is using rice that's been pre-cooked and sat in the fridge over night. For some reason the flavor and texture seem to be enhanced. It also cuts the cooking time down significantly the night it will be served.
Protein in Fried Rice
Pork Fried Rice at Chinese restaurants uses "char siu, a kind of Chinese BBQ pork with a sweet flavor and shiny, brick red crust on the outside," according to The Woks of Life. Pork shoulder or butt is the cut that works best for char siu because it is fatty. The pork is marinated in a sweet sauce and then roasted for about an hour.
Corned beef, on the other hand, is made from the brisket of a cow. Like the shoulder and butt, the brisket is a fatty cut. It's pickled with earthy, spicy seasonings like mustard seeds, peppercorns, cloves, cardamom, and more. Then, the brisket is either boiled or roasted for a few hours.
Both char siu pork and corned beef are flavorful protein options that lend the same satisfaction to rice that adding a piece of bacon does to a sandwich.
Another protein is also typical in Irish and Chinese cuisine- eggs. Two scrambled eggs are added to this fried rice for enhanced nutrition, flavor, and color.
Vegetables in Pork Fried Rice
Any vegetables can be used in fried rice, but typically carrots, onions, peas, and cabbage are used. Since cabbage and carrots were part of the St. Patrick's Day dish, it's easy to add these in with some sliced white onion and frozen peas, if desired.
Time Required to Make Irish Fried Rice
Using leftover corned beef, cabbage, and carrots, along with pre-cooked rice allows Irish Fried Rice to come together in about 15 minutes. The only prep work needed is chopping the ingredients (if they're not chopped already) and scrambling two eggs.
Flavor of Irish Fried Rice
Irish Fried Rice tastes very similar to Chinese Pork Fried Rice. Because the proteins used are both fatty, marinated cuts that roast for long periods of time to tenderize them, the char siu and corned beef are almost interchangeable. The rice and vegetables are the same.
However, I have yet to get the restaurant flavor at home. Despite experimenting with different oils, soy sauce, and MSG, I have not been able to replicate what the American Chinese chefs create in their restaurants.
For Irish Fried Rice, though, this recipe is pretty good.
(For authentic Irish Soda Bread that is both gluten-free and has no added sugar, check out the recipe here.)
Irish Fried Rice Recipe
Prep Time: 5 mins. Cook Time: 10 mins. Total Time: 15 mins.
Yield: 2 servings
2 Tbsp Canola or olive oil
1/4 white onion, cut into in long slices
~1 lb. leftover corned beef brisket (cooked and diced)
1 cup shredded cabbage
2 medium carrots (if not cooked, dice and boil for 3 mins.)
1 cup cooked brown rice
Optional: 2 Tbsp soy sauce/liquid aminos
Optional: 1/2 tsp MSG
Add 1/4 cup of water to a pot. Bring to a boil and cook carrots for 3 minutes. Drain water and set carrots aside.
Preheat a pan over medium-low heat and add 1 tablespoon of oil.
Crack eggs in a bowl, scramble with a fork, and pour into the sauté pan. Using a spatula, keep the egg moving by chopping it, flipping it, and ensuring bite-sized pieces of egg are getting cooked through. Remove scrambled eggs from pan and set aside.
Next, add the remaining tablespoon of oil to the hot pan and cook the sliced onions until translucent.
Add in all of the ingredients, including the carrots, eggs, corned beef, cabbage, and rice. Heat until all food is hot and steamy.
Optional: Add a few drizzles of soy sauce or liquid aminos and MSG to replicate Chinese fried rice, if desired.
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