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Eric Akis: Fancy fried rice topped with hoisin prawns, broccoli

Vegetable fried rice is topped with quick-cooking prawns and broccoli glazed with a ginger, garlic and orange flavoured hoisin mixture.
Vegetable fried rice is topped with hoisin-glazed prawns and broccoli in this deluxe version of fried rice. ERIC AKIS Vegetable fried rice is topped with hoisin-glazed prawns and broccoli in this deluxe version of fried rice. ERIC AKIS

When I make steamed rice to serve as a side dish for a main-course, I often make more than I’ll need for that meal for two reasons.

One is so that I can cool, package up and freeze the leftover rice to be ready to thaw and use when I need some steamed rice again. Rice that I could swirl into a brothy soup I’m making. Rice that I can also thaw, quickly heat up, and serve as a side dish again.

The other reason I like to have leftover steamed rice on hand is because, when stored in the refrigerator a day or two, it’s the perfect ingredient for fried rice.

It’s preferable to make fried rice with cold, cooked rice as that will ensure the grains of rice nicely separate when fried. If you use hot, just-steamed rice to make fried rice, it will overcook and clump together — not a good thing.

In today’s recipe, I made what you could call a deluxe version of the dish that has a two-step process.

Step one is to make fried rice that’s rich with bits of mushrooms, scrambled egg and vegetables. Step two requires you to create a palate-pleasing topping for the rice, by glazing prawns and small broccoli florets with a hoisin sauce mixture spiked with orange, garlic and ginger.

Both parts of the dish cook quickly, so make sure all ingredients needed are prepped, measured, set out and ready to go before firing up the stove.

Hoisin-Glazed Prawns and Broccoli on Vegetable Fried Rice

Vegetable fried rice is topped with quick-cooking prawns and broccoli glazed with a ginger, garlic and orange flavoured hoisin mixture.

Prep time: 40 minutes

Cook time: about 10 minutes

Makes: two servings

For the rice

2 cups cold, cooked long grain white rice (see Note 1 and Eric’s options)

1 large egg

1/2 tsp sesame oil

1 Tbsp + 1/2 tsp vegetable oil (divided)

1/4 cup finely diced onion

1/4 cup finely diced red or green bell pepper

1/4 cup finely diced celery

2 medium brown or white mushrooms, finely diced

1/3 cup frozen peas

1 large green onion, very thinly sliced

2 tsp soy sauce

• ground white pepper, to taste

For the prawns and broccoli

1 Tbsp vegetable oil

10 to 12 large raw prawns, peeled and deveined (see Note 2)

12 small broccoli florets, blanched (see Note 3)

1 tsp finely chopped fresh ginger

1 large garlic clove, minced

3 Tbsp hoisin sauce (see Note 4)

1 Tbsp orange juice

1 Tbsp water

1/4 tsp cornstarch

1 tsp rice vinegar or cider vinegar

To make fried rice, let cold, cooked rice sit out at room temperature for 20 minutes. Meanwhile, place egg and sesame oil in a small bowl and beat well. Place 1/2 tsp of the vegetable oil in a small non-stick skillet set over medium heat. Add the egg and cook and stir until lightly scrambled. Transfer egg to a small plate.

Preheat oven to 200 F. Place the remaining 1 Tbsp oil for the rice in a large non-stick skillet set over medium-high heat. When oil is hot, add onion, bell pepper, celery and mushrooms and stir-fry two minutes. Add the rice and stir-fry two minutes more. Add the scrambled egg, peas, green onions and soy sauce, season rice with white pepper, and then stir-fry a few seconds more, breaking up the egg into smaller bits as you do. Transfer rice to a shallow serving dish and then set in the oven to keep warm.

To cook prawns, combine hoisin sauce, juice, water, cornstarch and vinegar in a small bowl. Set a large non-stick skillet over medium-high heat and add the 1 Tbsp oil. When oil is hot, add the prawns and cook one minute per side, or until just cooked through. Remove skillet from the heat. Lift the prawns out of it and set on a plate.

Set skillet back over the heat. Add the broccoli and stir-fry 30 seconds. Now add the ginger and garlic and stir-fry 30 seconds more. Pour in the hoisin sauce mixture, and then return prawns to the skillet. Cook and stir until the hoisin sauce mixture thickens and nicely glazes the prawns and broccoli. Remove skillet from the heat.

Remove fried rice from the oven. Arrange prawns and broccoli on top of the rice. Spoon any hoisin sauce mixture left in the skillet over the prawns and broccoli, and then serve.

Note 1: If you don’t have any leftover cold, cooked rice, to get the 2 cups of cooked rice needed here, put 3/4 cup long grain white rice and 1 1/4 cups of cold water in a small pot. Bring to a boil over high heat, and then reduce heat to its lowest setting. Cover rice and steam 15 minutes. Spoon and spread rice on a wide plate and cool to room temperature. Wrap and refrigerate at least four hours before frying, but it’s better if it chills a day or two.

Note 2: To peel a prawn, hold the end of the tail in one hand and use your other hand to grab onto its swimmerets, the little legs under the shell. Pull off the shell, leaving the tip of the tail intact. If the prawns were not sold deveined, use a small paring knife to make a lengthwise slit along the back of each prawn. Pull out, or rinse out with cold water, the dark vein, if there is one, pat the prawns dry, and they’re ready to use.

Note 3: To blanch the broccoli florets, plunge them into a pot of boiling water one minute. Drain well, cool in ice-cold water, drain well again and they are ready to use.

Note 3: Hoisin is slightly sweet, mildly spicy, soybean-based sauce. I used San-J brand hoisin sauce when testing this recipe. It’s sold any many grocery stores. Other brands of thinner in consistency hoisin sauce will also work here.

Eric’s options: Cold, cooked brown rice will also work in this recipe.

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Eric Akis is the author of eight cookbooks. His columns appear in the Life section