As a present for my brother's birthday, this has become my go-to dish for any large party. Slightly salty, slightly crunch, and savory has become my favorite mix of flavors and is sure to impress your guests with its simplicity and flavor.
Now for some science :)
Salt is an insanely important part of cooking, and especially in Asian dishes, it can be the sole flavor in a dish. I will talk about how salt can chemically alter and enhance the flavor of a dish. Sodium chloride, also known as table salt, imparts a salt flavor once dissociated into ions, atoms with an electrical charge. Scientific research suggests that the Na+ ion is mainly responsible for imparting this flavor, while the Cl- ion hardly does. As chloride increases in size (say to Acetate), the food gets more bitter. This is why a high amount of salt in a food will not only make the dish more salty, but more bitter as well.
For the biological aspect, salt receptors on the tongue, known as epithelial sodium channels. These channels dominate front portion of the mouth (other than sweet), which is why in a savory food, it is easy to detect how salty or bland the food is. This is why take-out is noticeably saltier than other foods.
This recipe for eggless fried rice incorporates ingredients with naturally salty flavors, such as soy sauce, to impart a salty flavor. However, because soy sauce is a liquid, the Na+ ion is further dissolved in the water, giving a stronger salty taste as well as accompanying the flavor of soy.
4 cups rice, uncooked
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbsp grated ginger
2 tbsp harissa paste (adds very subtle garlic spice flavor)
1 cup corn, frozen or fresh
2 cups frozen peas (fresh works fine)
2 cups diced carrots
1 large onion, sliced
1/4 cup soy sauce
2 tbsp rice vinegar (I suggest less if you do not like your food too sour)
1 scallion, thinly sliced
1 tsp oyster sauce
1 tsp hoisin sauce
3 tbsp oil
Ideally, cook the rice a day in advance, this will help dry out the rice and crisp up better under the intense heat of a wok. Start by rinsing the uncooked rice under cold water until the rice water runs clear. Add the rice and 6 cups of water together in a pot. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer. Cook for 10-15 minutes until the rice is just tender.
Heat 3 tbsp of oil in a wok over medium-high heat. Add in the ginger, garlic, onions and carrots and cook for 3-4 minutes until translucent and lightly brown. Add the peas and corn and cook for an additional one minute.
Add in the day-old rice and cook for 2 minutes. Do not stir the rice, we want a thin layer of slightly brown, crispy rice. Add in the vinegar, soy sauce, oyster sauce, hoisin sauce, and harissa paste. Stir gently to combine.
Garnish with scallions.
Institute of Medicine (US) Committee on Strategies to Reduce Sodium Intake; Henney JE, Taylor CL, Boon CS, editors. Strategies to Reduce Sodium Intake in the United States. Washington (DC): National Academies Press (US); 2010. 3, Taste and Flavor Roles of Sodium in Foods: A Unique Challenge to Reducing Sodium Intake. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK50958/