This dish may sound like a wild one to some (looking at you fried rice purists)…but you really need to try it before you knock it.
Taiwanese-born, NYC chef Reggie Soang is a believer that all cuisines are connected, something I couldn’t agree more with (see the Universal Eats series). During his research of intersectionality between world cuisines and ingredients, he came upon a recipe for a pantry fried rice in a Japanese cookbook.
The author chose to use these untraditional and markedly western ingredients as a way to use what was available in her pantry, and replace ingredients she didn’t have at hand. Sound familiar? This is all too common these days for most (if not all) of us cooking while still doing our part to socially distance during a pandemic. Fried rice could not be a more perfect dish for our times; its origins are literally a way of making use of cooked rice and leftovers, and turning it into a delicious meal.
Like Reggie I believe that food is a language that connects all humans, and unlocking those connections happens through researching, cooking, tasting, and experimenting. Once the chef described the dish to me, there was no need to convince me—I really just wanted to make it myself and taste it.
An Unexpected Punch of Umami
Reggie tested the recipe, made it his own, and now seems to be absolutely obsessed with what these ingredients do together. Anchovies and parmesan bring so much depth to this dish, because they both pack an umami punch. They replace the soy sauce and fish sauce other recipes may call for. The boquerones (marinated white anchovies) on top are not only a good swap for other seafood, combined with the parmesan they make the perfect finishing touch. Chef Soang has made a lot of fried rice during his culinary journey, and he ranks this recipe in his top five.
To Reggie the most important part of a fried rice is that it ends up being a highly satisfying dish. The reason why this is a street food favorite in different parts of Asia, and a staple hangover cure, is because it’s a symphony of loaded flavors that harmonize well with each other. Fried rice shouldn’t feel greasy, it should be full bodied. It should have a balance of earthiness and freshness, carried through by the garlic and the heavy use of cilantro, punctuated with the addition of fresh scallions when plating.
Ortiz Anchovy Fillets in Olive Oil (3.3 oz), $9.95 from Yummy Bazaar
Don't fear these flavorful little fish.
OK, still with me? What if you have no issues experimenting with non-Asian ingredients in your fried rice, but you have a problem with anchovies? Reggie says you can swap with capers, pepperoni, prosciutto, pancetta, or another salty ingredient or protein—the idea is to think of balance here, and find something that will play well with the other ingredients, while bringing the saltiness, depth, and umami that this dish requires.
Related Reading: Kimchi Bacon Fried Rice Is the Ultimate Comfort Food Dish
Reggie tops the dish with a raw egg yolk, making it not only look like a piece of art, but enticing all the senses. If you’re squeamish about raw egg, I recommend stirring 1-2 egg yolks into your cold pre-cooked rice (before frying it) and combining well while breaking up any clumps—then follow the recipe as written.
Want to take it even further? Reggie says to always serve your fried rice with a side of pickles. The acidity and brininess of pickles elevates the earthiness, saltiness, and garlic in the rice.
Anchovy Parmesan Fried Rice Recipe
Courtesy of Reggie Soang
- 5 cloves garlic, sliced
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 can (2 oz.) anchovy fillets
- 4 cups cooked long grain rice, at least 1 day old
- 1 cup grated parmesan
- ½ cup roughly chopped cilantro
- 1 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper (adjust to taste)
- 1 teaspoon dried chilies (adjust to taste)
- 6 fillets of Boquerones (marinated white anchovies), optional
- 4 scallions, finely chopped (separate whites from greens)
- On a non-stick skillet heat up EVOO on medium heat.
- Sauté garlic, and half of your scallions until lightly golden.
- Add canned anchovies and rice at the same time.
- Spread out the rice in the skillet and leave it untouched for a minute to warm up.
- At this point, anchovies should start to disintegrate into the rice.
- Gently stir up the rice to mix and combine everything.
- Season the rice with black pepper and chili.
- Add ½ of grated parmesan and the chopped cilantro, toss or stir to combine all ingredients.
- To plate, spoon the fried rice onto a plate and sprinkle the rest of the parmesan on top.
- Add a few fillets of white anchovies (optional, but makes it saltier and yummier)
- If you are not squeamish about raw eggs, stir in a raw yolk. Bon appétit!
You can cook with Reggie through 100 Pleats as well.