Variations of fried rice are common in many Asian countries. Today, I’m specifically writing about the cuisines of the Philippines called pork fried rice and shrimp fried rice. For the sake of preventing arguments, the words “shrimp” and “prawn” basically mean the same thing. Prawn usually refers to either large shrimp or freshwater shrimp but i won’t use that word. Instead, I’ll use either small shrimp or large shrimp because the word “shrimp” itself covers a lot of related species.
Fried Rice in General
According to this Wikipedia article on fried rice, “It is made from cold leftover rice fried with other leftover ingredients…There are dozens of varieties of fried rice, each with their own specific list of ingredients.” The two sentences conflict with each other. I’ve had my fair share of the different varieties of Filipino fried rice over the past 30+ years and I can tell you first hand that Filipinos don’t use leftover rice. There usually isn’t any such thing as leftover rice when it comes to Filipinos.
Any specific variety of Filipino-style fried rice shouldn’t confused with fried rice in China or other Asian countries. Filipinos don’t normally add peas, bean sprouts, celery or carrots. That is, unless the family is of Chinese descent. Although my wife spends more time in the United States than the Philippines, she still makes pork fried rice and shrimp fried rice like a Filipino would.
Pork Fried Rice
Pork fried rice is normally made with rice (obviously), other ingredients and, of course, pork. While no specific part of the pig is required, it’s normally the same parts used for pork chops and such. What my wife does when regular pork pieces aren’t available is substitute wieners.
We call them wieners in the United States, but they just call them hot dogs in the Philippines. Americans know that “hot dogs” include the buns and condiments, but not Filipinos. What do you expect when one of the major suppliers of wieners in the Philippines, San Miguel Pure Foods, labels them as hot dogs. I have yet to see a package, that isn’t imported, with “wieners” on the label.
Preparation and Cooking
I’ve observed my wife cooking both pork fried rice and shrimp fried rice, but I’ve still asked her for her fried rice recipe because I want to know how to cook this stuff when she’s away.
The ingredients she uses are:
- 3 cups of rice
- Pork fried rice: 8-16 ounces of pork (or 4 wieners)
- Shrimp fried rice: 10 small shrimp or 5 large shrimp
- Soy Sauce
- 3 cloves of garlic
- 1 medium onion
- 4 eggs
She starts by cooking rice in a rice cooker, which takes about 30 minutes. While she’s waiting, she’ll scramble the eggs and fry them all together like an omelet, and then she’ll cut the eggs into small pieces. This is also when she’ll “pre-cook” the pork or shrimp.
When she starts frying the rice, she puts a little vegetable oil in a deep skillet to prevent the rice from burning. She fries the rice, turning it often while adding soy sauce until the rice turns golden brown. You may have heard the old saying, “too much sauce spoils the goose”. Well, it’s the same thing with soy sauce and rice. The flavor of the soy sauce shouldn’t overwhelm everything else.
As she cooks the fried rice, she’ll add the ingredients one by one, starting with the meat and ending with the eggs. The entire process, from cooking the rice in a rice cooker, to removing the fried rice from the skillet and putting it into a serving dish, only takes about an hour. This amount of fried rice will feed four or five people. When we’re around our relatives, on her side of the family, there are never any leftovers.
There is one other thing I’d like to mention. The ingredients are always 100 percent natural without any preservatives. If she uses locally made wieners, she can’t get them without red food coloring being added. To avoid this issue, I won’t let her use locally made wieners.