The Best Fried Rice

Course : Chinese
Serves: 8
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5 cups cold cooked rice -- (cooked at least one day in advance)
1 cup small raw shrimps** -- shelled, deveined, and split in half lengthwise
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
5 tablespoons peanut oil OR vegetable or corn oil
2/3 cup cooked ham -- or cubed Chinese sausages
3 large eggs
1/2 cup cooked fresh green peas or frozen peas
1 tablespoon salt -- approximately
2 tablespoons oyster sauce**
1 cup fresh bean sprouts -- (see note)
1/2 cup scallions -- chopped and green part included

Preparation / Directions:

1. Flake the rice so that the grains do not stick together. Set aside. 2. Combine the shrimps with the soda and salt and let stand 15 minutes or longer. Rinse thoroughly in cold water and pat dry on paper toweling. 3. Heat the oil in a wok or skillet until it is almost smoking and add the shrimps. Cook, stirring quickly and turning them in the oil until they turn pink, about 30 seconds. Remove them to a sieve fitted over a mixing bowl and let them drain well. Return the oil from the drained shrimps to the pan. 4. Add the sausages or ham to the pan and cook just to heat through, stirring. Add the rice, stirring rapidly, and cook until thoroughly heated without browning. 5. Do the following quickly: Make a well in the center of the rice and add the eggs, stirring constantly. When they have a soft-scrambled consistency, start incorporating the rice, stirring in a circular fashion. 6. When all the rice and eggs are blended, add the peas and the tablespoon of salt, stirring. Stir in the oyster sauce and the cooked shrimps, tossing the rice over and over to blend everything. Stir in the bean sprouts and cook, stirring and tossing, about 30 seconds. Add the scallions and serve immediately. Note: If you really want to be refined in this dish, pluck off and discard the head and threadlike "tail" of each bean sprout. But whether plucked over or left whole, there should be 1 cup to go into the dish. **Note to me: try chicken in place of shrimp and soy sauce in place of oyster sauce. Source: The Chinese Cookbook, by Craig Claiborne and Virginia Lee, 1972 (the authors say that, "This fried rice is a bit of a masterpiece."

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