National Fried Rice Day
According to my favorite resource, Nationaldaycalendar.com, National Fried Rice Day is celebrated on September 20th every year. Guess which company is behind this day. Of course, Benihana, the restaurant chain that uses 2,720,350 pounds of California grown rice each year. And why would Benihana want this day to be nationally celebrated? Well, to paraphrase Nationaldaycalendar.com: Benihana believes that high quality rice isn’t just another side dish. They believe that it is the foundational element of every meal.
I first read on Nationaldaycalendar.com and then later confirmed the information on Marketwatch.com, that Benihana hosted the very first National Fried Rice Day in 2018 in a very special way. Two Benihana master chefs, one in NY and the other in Chicago, cooked fried rice for forty-two continuous hours on a 500 degree grill and broke the Guinness World record title for the longest cooking marathon. The plan was for these two chefs to begin cooking fried rice at 4pm on September 18th and then beginning on September 20th a.k.a. National Fried Rice Day, patrons of the Benihana venues in those two cities who purchased an entree, were given a complimentary serving of the rice.
Don’t mind me, my mouth is watering as I type this up. To me, fried rice is the perfect meal. First of all, if you’re Filipino or Asian like me, chances are there is rice in your rice cooker 24/7. The next day, before I make more fresh rice, I take the left over rice and make fried rice with it. And here’s why it’s perfect - you can throw whatever the heck you have or want into it. You had spaghetti and meatballs one night and brought home the meatballs - dice those up, throw them in the pan with the rice and start frying. Or you have a few squares of Spam left over from breakfast so those scraps accompanied by a scrambled egg or two with the rice makes a perfect dinner. Or there’s some veggies left over from your BBQ - chop them up and throw those in a pan with some rice. Fried rice is the answer to every leftover you may have. The key is to always make more steamed rice than you need for the night. This tip will ensure that you have an automatic base for any kind of fried rice you want when you want it.
My cousin Doobie is always offering up his cooking tips when we get together so I reached out to him for his favorite fried rice recipe. He said, “Sorry no real recipe!” Along the same lines as my Filipino version of fried rice above, he shared with me that he mostly wings it with varying results (sometimes he like his fried rice, sometimes it's not the best). He sautés a ton of garlic in whatever oil is handy (usually sesame oil). Once that gets a little brown, he pours whatever leftover rice he has in the fridge - breaking up the clumps before he puts it in the pan. When the rice is in the pan, Doobie usually puts more oil, a little douse, on top. He fries the rice for a while until the rice softens up. At the last minute, he sometimes adds a dash of soy sauce and thoroughly stirs before taking it off the heat.
The #perfectlypellicer hashtag was conceived when my other cousin, Bud, asked Erica to be his bride. They are perfect. So it wasn’t a surprise to me when I asked him for his favorite fried rice dish and he shared this tasty, multi-step recipe. Not only am I sharing the recipe with you as my thoughtful pinch of the week, but I’m also reminding you about a fact about recipes. If you alter a recipe, it becomes your very own recipe. The alteration (even one little detail) could be using a different ingredient than listed, length of cooking time, method of cooking (i.e. baking instead of frying) or using 1.5 teaspoons of salt instead of 1 teaspoon etc. For this Thai Spicy Basil Fried Rice - https://www.allrecipes.com/recipe/145572/thai-spicy-basil-chicken-fried-rice/ Bud typically uses 4 (adjust to your liking) Thai peppers instead of Serrano peppers and garnishes the rice dish with tomato wedges. Since Bud made those two changes to the recipe, it should officially be called Bud’s Thai Spicy Basil Chicken Fried Rice.
I agree with Benihana. Fried rice shouldn’t be considered just another side dish. I personally think of it as a one pot meal and it is definitely one of my favorite Filipino comfort foods. So whether you’re like the master chefs of Benihana who cooked for 42 hours straight or my cousins Doobie and Bud who cook food all the time or you’re good at picking up take out, don’t forget to pinch someone by bringing them some fried rice this Friday for #nationalfriedriceday. Enjoy!