Montreal-style smoked meat meets a classic Chinese fried rice. The results are simply irresistible.
You know when someone tells you to watch a TV show and you tell them you will but you know you never will? That’s me with a lot of ‘famous’ food places. If you ever want to turn me off from trying a place, just tell me I ‘have to try it’. Uncle Tetsu cheesecake, Shwartz’s, La Banquise, any place that tourists flock to is a big no for me. Mainly because I hate crowds, a little because I’m afraid of the food not meeting my expectations.
That being said, I’ve lived two blocks away from Shwartz’s for almost a year now. It’s about time guys. And what better way to try it then to use it in a recipe? Shout out to Stephen Lee who gave me the idea to do this, the meat was fine by itself but it was AMAZING with the fried rice.
Achieving a fake ‘wok hei’
The term ‘wok hei’, or guoqi (锅气), sort of translates to ‘the breath of the wok’. It’s that charred, smokey taste a dish has when cooked over very high temperatures. I never really noticed it until I started cooking on my own and realized that a lot of my dishes were missing that aroma.
The key to achieving wok hei is having a gas stove, which is not something I have easy access to. The solution to that apparently, is smoked meat, because it’s smoked. Who knew.
I’d say the only reason not to make this is is that smoked meat is a bit pricey. It’s worth it though when you think about how they marinate their meat for 10 days (and it’s kosher so that’s a plus). This is also a super easy recipe. The only thing you really need to cook is the eggs, everything else is just mixing it all together.
The basics of fried rice
Here’s what you need to know if you’re not familiar with cooking fried rice:
1. Always use leftover rice.
If you use freshly cooked rice, your dish is going to turn out mushy and wet. Which is fine I guess, if you like that. Day old, refrigerated rice is drier, less sticky, and will hold it’s shape. If you don’t have any and have to cook it fresh then spread it out on a flat surface for a few hours to let the excess moisture evaporate.
2. Cook the eggs separately.
A lot of recipes tell you to create a well in the middle of your wok/skillet after adding the rice and scrambling the egg. That’s great if you have a wok and a gas stove where everything stays nice and hot. I’m not very lucky in achieving the same results with an electric stove though. It’s also just personal taste but I find that the eggs don’t turn out as firm as I want them to be. To solve this, I cook the egg first and then set it aside to add back in later.
3. Cooking is a balancing act.
One thing I’ve learned from meal prepping is to not be too arrogant. I use a big wok to cook a lot of things. Even if I can’t get the ‘wok hei’ taste, woks are still great for meal prep since they can hold such a large amount of food with minimal spillage. However, from time to time I greatly overestimate the capacity of my wok. Dumping a weeks worth of rice in there along with a kilo of meat and veggies isn’t always the greatest idea.
Most Asian dishes are best cooked in small servings. Crowding the pan/wok/whatever vessel you’re using isn’t a good idea because your food will start to steam instead of brown. Excess moisture is a big no-no.
TL;DR I cooked this recipe all in one go and miraculously it turned out amazing. However, I was using the highest heat setting the whole time and constantly stirring. If you’re not confident, err on the side of caution and cook in batches. Don’t burn your food!
Smoked Meat Fried Rice
- 3~4 cups medium-grain rice (650~900g) day-old/ or cooled for an hour
- 3/4 lb Montreal-style smoked meat (~350g)
- 4 large eggs (I used 5 small eggs)
- 1 small yellow onion diced
- 1 red bell pepper diced
- 4~5 cloves garlic minced
- 1 tsp ginger grated
- 1 1/2 cup frozen vegetables (225g) carrots, peas, corn, green beans
- 2 tbsp light soy sauce
- 1 tbsp dark soy sauce*
- 2 tsp white pepper
- 1 tsp kecap manis optional (can sub for sugar, just to add a bit of sweetness)
- 1 tsp maggi sauce optional
- 2 tbsp cooking oil
- salt no measurements bruh
- Go to Montreal and buy some smoked meat (Take your pick from Shwartz’s, Reuben’s, The Main, etc.). Take pictures so people know that you went there.
- Go home and take whatever smoked meat you didn’t eat and chop it up.
- Beat eggs in a bowl. Add in the maggi sauce and mix well. This is extremely optional and just something I like to do.
- Heat up a wok or a large skillet. Add half the oil in the pan and pour in the eggs. Break up into small pieces and set aside.
- Wipe down the wok and turn to medium high heat. Add the rest of the oil and then cook onions and garlic.
- Add peppers, ginger, and smoked meat. Stir often so nothing burns or sticks to wok.
- Add in the frozen veggies. Mix and let thaw a bit, then add in the soy sauces, kecap manis, and white pepper. Taste and adjust as necessary.
- Mix in the rice so everything is incorporated. Add a bit more soy sauce if the color is not even.
- Enjoy! Don’t eat it all in one sitting, as tempting as it may be.