Similar to the culture of American-style Chinese food we have in the States, Japan has wafu-chuuka or “Japanese-style Chinese”. Along with dishes like Ramen and Ebi Chiri, Gomoku Chahan or “Five Ingredient Fried Rice” is a great example of this pseudo-cuisine.
It’s a far cry from the Chinese original, using sticky shortgrain rice instead of the dryer Chinese long-grain, but it’s still delicious in its own way.
The term gomoku (五目) refers to the five ingredients mixed in with the rice. The most typical ingredients are eggs, ham, onions, carrots and peas, but shrimp or scallions are sometimes substituted for the ham and onion. These ingredients are stir-fried until browned and fragrant before being fried together with the rice.
Since Japanese rice tends to be much stickier than Chinese rice, it’s important to use stale rice (a few days in the fridge should do the trick). This ensures that each grain of rice will fry up separately, allowing them to brown rather than steam and imbuing a marvelous toasty flavor. While the outside may no longer be sticky, the inside of each grain of rice retains its original toothsome texture, giving the finished fried rice a marvelous mouthfeel.
To keep the eggs from becoming overcooked and rubbery, I like to scramble them first and then remove them from the pan when they’re just barely cooked. Then, they go back in at the very end to reheat, ensuring you have tender creamy curds rather than chewy dry lumps of egg.
- 2 tablespoons oil, divided
- 2 large eggs, beaten
- 2.8 ounces (80 grams or about 2/3 cup) ham , diced
- 2.8 ounces (80 grams or about 1/2 a small one) onion, diced
- 1.8 ounces (50 grams or about 1/2 a small one) carrot, quartered and thinly chopped
- 12 ounces (340 grams or about 2 1/2 cups) cooked short grain rice
- 1/8 teaspoon white pepper
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce
- 2.8 ounces (80 grams) frozen peas
- salt to taste
- Heat a wok or large frying pan over medium heat until very hot.
- Add 1 tablespoon of oil and then the eggs, whisking vigorously to scramble and then break up the eggs. When they're cooked, transfer them to a bowl and set aside.
- Add the remaining tablespoon of oil and then the ham, onions and carrots. Saute until the carrots are no longer crunchy.
- Add the rice, crumbling the chunks as much as possible as you add it. Use a spatula to flatten the lumps and then toss the rice to ensure each grain of rice is separate.
- When the rice starts making popping noises, add the white pepper and soy sauce and toss to distribute evenly.
- Return the eggs and peas to the pan, using the spatula to break up the eggs and taste for salt, adding more salt to taste.
Yield: 2 servings
Marc Matsumoto is a culinary consultant and recipe repairman who shares his passion for good food through his website norecipes.com. For Marc, food is a life long journey of exploration, discovery and experimentation and he shares his escapades through his blog in the hopes that he inspires others to find their own culinary adventures. Marc’s been featured in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and USA Today, and has made multiple appearances on NPR and the Food Network.