RECIPES: Shanghai Fried Rice

Recipe | Matt Murtagh-Wu · Curator | Hakan Burcuoğlu · Venue | Matt’s Kitchen · Gear | Leica

It’s hard to refrain from platitudes with anything fried rice. But this particular recipe comes straight from the heart—an homage, and repurposing, of the ubiquitous bounties from Zhejiang and Jiangsu—the Chinese provinces where Matt’s grandfather and grandmother hail from, respectively. Humble in its complexion, this reverent rendition’s claim to fame is the addition of Jinhua ham—salt-cured hind legs of the venerable “two ends black” pork variety, traditionally used as a smoky supercharger for stocks, stews and braises all over mainland China. Added melodies arrive in the form of sweet aromatics, and modestly mild bok choy that scintillate in the mix like fine jade. And the silky strands of unctuous, runny egg? Edible deus ex machina.


4 cups steamed, medium grain rice [prepared in advance]
2 handfuls Shanghai bok choy
½ cup of Jinhua ham, cut into a 1″ square cubes
3 free-range eggs
1 thumb of ginger, minced
3 cloves of garlic, minced
2-3 tbsps of Shaoxing wine
2½ tbsps neutral-flavoured oil (grape seed or canola recommended, definitely not olive oil) in a squeeze bottle
Salt, to taste

Method [Recipe serves 6 as an appetizer]

It’s crucial to heat your wok properly before each step of frying. Ingredients should be added to the wok when it becomes “white hot” in appearance. You may test this by flicking a tiny bit of water onto the vessel; the drops should float and skip around franticallya phenomenon coined the Leidenfrost effect. Also ensure you have your ingredients ready, and in close proximity, whilst making this recipe. Missing the mark may lead to burning the garlic and spoiling the flavour, amongst other, more catastrophic, things.

Matt demonstrates the Leidenfrost effect.

01. Steam rice a day prior and rest overnight in the fridge. “Fried rice should always be made with cold rice”, says Matt. The contrary will result in a claggy consistency, not to mention a formidable faux pas.

02. Mince the garlic and ginger.

03. Chop the bok choy into fine to semi-rough pieces.

04. Julienne the ham.

05. Heat your wok until Leidenfrost effect is achieved. Drizzle a little bit of oil in a circular motion along the sides of the wok, using a squeeze bottle.

06. Soft-scramble the eggs by folding and scraping. Once done, set aside for adding into rice later. This should take no more than 30-45 seconds if using a hot wok. Clean the wok using a wok brush for the next step of frying.

07. Add ½ tbsp oil into the wok and proceed to fry quickly by adding the garlic, ginger, ham and lastly, the wine.

08. Once semi-cooked, add the bok choy and stir fry. Salt to taste. Once cooked through, empty the bok choy, along with its cooking juices, onto a plate. The bok choy’s cooking juices may be used for added moisture, or omitted altogether, following Step 09. Be aware that adding too much may result in a mushy consistency. 

09.  Clean out the wok and place back onto high heat. When Leidenfrost effect is attained, add the remaining oil followed by the cold steamed rice. Stir fry until heated through and add back all of the previously stir-fried ingredients. Add a healthy pinch of salt.

10. Stir fry by tossing the rice to mix well, until all of the ingredients are harmoniously incorporated into the rice.

11. Enjoy and hashtag #thecuratorialistmademedoit

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