September 20th is National Fried Rice Day. No doubt, everyone who enjoys Chinese food has had fried rice. We can eat a big plate of it as a main course! But today, we offer you something different: A fusion Italian Fried Rice recipe.
What makes it “Italian” fried rice?
Instead of rice, the recipe uses orzo, a rice-shaped pasta (“orzo” means barley in Italian). It also uses Italian vegetables (asparagus, zucchini) instead of bean sprouts and bamboo shoots—not to mention Parmesan cheese.
Orzo is used most traditionally in soups, but this versatile pasta has been widely adapted by chefs in Italy and America for both main courses and side dishes. You can even use it to make risotto!
> More grain types (plus beans).
Chef Brandon advises: “Have all your ingredients prepped and ready to go along with the crispy fried egg. Once you start cooking, the dish will come together very quickly!”
You can purchase sofrito in a jar, or make it with the recipe below.
1. SAUTÉ the diced vegetables in olive oil. Set aside
2. SOFT-POACH poach the eggs in simmering water and shock them in ice water. Drain and pat dry.
3. SEASON the panko with salt and pepper and the grated Parmesan. Bread the poached egg in the seasoned flour, beaten egg, and seasoned breadcrumbs. Deep-fry the egg at 350°F for 45 to 60 seconds. It’s important that the eggs are cold going into the fryer so that the yolks remain runny after frying. Remove the eggs from the fryer to a paper towel-lined plate and season with a pinch of coarse salt.
4. BRING a pot of salted water to a boil with added Parmesan rinds, if available (keep them in the freezer for occasions like this, and for making soups). Cook the orzo until al dente. Drain.
5. HEAT a large sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add the oil and heat until it begins to shimmer. Add the soppressata and sofrito to the pan, tossing to incorporate.
6. ADD the shallot, zucchini, and tomatoes to the pan, stirring to incorporate. Continue to cook until the tomatoes begin to blister and shallots begin to caramelize. Add the chiles, asparagus, and orzo to the pan, stirring and tossing to incorporate.
7. DRIZZLE the colatura into the pan. Add the torn basil and Microplane (or substitute another tool) an even layer of grana over the ingredients. Stir and toss to combine. Taste and adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper.
8. MOUND the fried pasta in two shallow bowls and sprinkle the reserved asparagus tips and toasted pine nuts all over. Top each serving with a crispy poached egg and Microplane more Grana Padano over the entire dish. Crack the second egg over the dish. It’s ready to enjoy!
You can make “fried rice” with any grain, from brown rice to quinoa. It’s a great way to use leftover grains.
*Substitutes include serrano and Anaheim chiles, or red chili flakes. You can also use hot sauce to add spice.
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