Growing up in Hong Kong, one of my favorite childhood memories was going to wedding and birthday banquets. Why? the food, of course! Yes, I also loved the dressing up, catching up with relatives and friends, staying up late, the whole nine yard! Well, ok may be not everything. I did not like the ear-piercing noise from the Mahjong games or the foggy second hand smoke exhaled by the chain smokers. Kaff! Kaff! Did the noise and smoke bother me? Of course they did! But hey, life is never perfect, I just had to take bad with the good. Those were just minor things I had to put up with for incredible food. So worth it!
How incredible was the food? Just two words to sum it up: quantity and quality.
How does a 9 to 12 course progressive feast sound? Am I kidding? Far from it. Each course was served on a Lazy Susan with special condiments accompanying them. What condiments? How about sweet plum sauce for roasted duck, seasoned salt for Chinese roasted chicken , the Hoisin based sweet sauce for the roasted pigging or special vinegar and mustard combo for the shark fin soup. Hmmmm! Just thinking of it made my mouth water!
Besides, each course was no ordinary dish; they were dishes made from the most expensive and highest quality ingredients only reserved for new years or other special occasions. How do fresh crabs, sea cucumbers, abalones, giant Shiitake mushrooms, jumbo shrimps, and scallops sound? They may not be much to some people, but for a little girl who was born in the last century, they were truly exquisite.
One strange though!?
No rice or noodle was served alone with each course, but only served right before desserts. I am not sure the logic behind it, I would guess the hosts did not want to fill up their guests with carbs. Almost every time Yang Zhou Fried Rice was served with another noodle dish. The problem was by then I was so full that I could not even take another bite.
Although Yang Zhou was a must in every banquet, it was almost unknown in the western world. What a shame! I think it is among the prettiest and tastiest fried rice. What so special about it? Allow me to introduce you to this fried rice super star…..
Let start with its name, What is or more correctly where is Yang Zhou?
Yang Zhou is a famous city located in the Jiang Su Province, the southeast part of China. It is a historical and culturally rich area also known to produce great writers, poets, and calligraphists in ancient China; Its cuisine, of course, is also highly influenced by its local culture.
The Jiang Su Cuisine is famous for its exquisite taste, glamorous presentations, and masterful skills. Yang Zhou Fried Rice is a great example. It may sound intimidating, but it is not hard to make at all. In essence, it is the marriage between the golden egg fried rice and shrimp fried rice with a few extra ingredients to enhance its favors and presentation. Here is how I made mine….
Here are the few everyday ingredients: shrimp, peas, diced char siu (Chinese BBQ pork) or ham, diced carrots, and eggs. Look at the colors: red, yellow, pink, orange and green.
Pour in the beaten eggs and let it cook for about 10 seconds and make sure the eggs are still runny.
Then add the rice and mix the rice and eggs quickly and break up the cooked eggs into small pieces. Cook it for about a minute or two.
Add the carrot and peas….
Stir fried the mixture with two wooden spoons or spatulas for about 3-4 minutes until carrots started to soften up.
Add Char Siu and shrimp and stir fry for 5 minutes until shrimp turn to turn pink and cooked through.
Here is your new favorite fried rice – Yang Zhou fried rice.