Grandmas are liars. There, I said it.
Look inside their recipes boxes or the careful cursive recipes on scraps of paper stuck inside other cookbooks and you’ll know their dark hearts. Lists of ingredients, no amounts, sometimes no instructions.
These lies aren’t intentionally meant to deceive. Or to maintain an illusion, like Santa Claus or the Easter Bunny or the Tooth Fairy. These lies are lesser crimes, crimes of omission. But lies nevertheless. Like with my Grandma’s Fried Rice.
I love you and miss you, Grandma, but your fried rice never had green peppers or water chestnuts in it. At least not any I ate during the 80s. Maybe it was a transcription error or maybe it’s just the nature of a recipe itself. A recipe is not a law, a set of hard and fast rules. Maybe the fried rice recipe is just the way you happened to make it the day you wrote it down. Recipes it turns out are just as faulty as memory worn with time.
The only way to learn how to make Grandma’s Fried Rice was to stand at the stove, eat it and then pick it apart later. Only by the time I was standing at the stove, I was left by myself, trial-and-mostly-erroring as I made batch after batch of fried rice. There was nothing objectively wrong with my fried rice, it just wasn’t hers.
But now, I think I’ve figured it out.
Although fried rice is meant to be a leftover dish, made out of whatever you’ve got, don’t believe it. There are absolutes. And then the absolutes dissolve into shoulds, which dissolve into if-you-cans, and the whole thing goes to hell. If you’re ok with this, proceed.
The inexactitude starts with the very first ingredient – rice. Rice cookers come with a little plastic cup for measuring rice. It has markings on it, but if you actually measure one plastic cup of rice and pour it into a standard dry measuring cup – it’s slightly less than one cup. Add to that the fact that you don’t measure the water. You simply cover the rice with water and stick your index finger into the bowl. If the water comes up to the first knuckle, the first bend in your finger, you’ve got the right amount. You want 2 plastic cups of rice.
4 slices of Oscar Mayer bacon, or 3 slices of thick, center cut, uncured bacon. Sliced into ¼ inch strips. Rendered.
Oil. Ok, fine, canola.
Three eggs. The Rule of Fried Rice is you must always have three eggs in your refrigerator. Apparently. Because this is meant to be whatever you’ve got, but really it should be three eggs. Beat them just lightly.
Shoyu. I can’t tell you how much, because it’s about “this much.” A skoshi-bit.
Two green onions. Sliced thinly.
Half a cup of frozen green peas, thawed.
Fried rice will make liars out of all of us.