I am so happy that I don’t have to explain Indo-Chinese all over again! Explaining Schezwan cannot be avoided though because the word by itself has various interpretations: Schezwan, Szechuan and the most common (and the right one), Sichuan is a Southwestern province in China. The place is known for its spicy red peppers, which is used in all the dishes that roll out of a Sichuan kitchen. People who tell you that Kung Pao Chicken is an American-Chinese dish are wrong because it is a classic example of authentic Szechwan cuisine (with the spice level dialed down, of course).
Szechwan, like every other Chinese cuisine, has been borrowed, altered and adapted into Indian cuisine. My favorite Szechwan dish will always be the veggie fried rice and my favorite place to eat it, a restaurant called Cascade in Madras. With perfect spice level, filled with hearty vegetables and a portion fit for lunch and dinner, Cascade always knew how to make me pine for delish Indo-Chinese in the city. I bought a bottle of Szechwan paste back from India this time and was itching to use it. So I made my own version of Szechwan fried rice after reading up umpteen recipes for the dish by various bloggers and chefs.
I ended up with a wonderfully spicy fried rice full of color and flavor that was ready in roughly 15 minutes. Only grouse: I wish I hadn’t used the bottled spice and made my own paste. Oh well, there is always the next time.
This is how I made it…
Szechwan Mushroom Fried Rice:
One and a half cups any long-grained rice (I used Basmati), cleaned and cooked.
Four sprigs green onion chopped (Whites and green separated)
Four pods of garlic and one inch piece of ginger minced together
A mix of vegetables (I used frozen from a bag)
Two cups sliced mushrooms (Cremini was my choice)
Two Tbsp low-sodium soy sauce
Two Tbsp tomato ketchup
One tsp Sambal Oelek (avoid this if you have problems with spicy food or are going to make your own Szechwan paste)
Four Tbsp commercial Szechwan sauce or Two Tbsp homemade, for which the recipe can be found here (Thank you, Tarla!)
A few cashew nuts, toasted
Four Tbsp sesame oil (or replace with vegetable oil)
Cook the rice at least four hours before you make the fried rice. Heat two Tbsp oil in a wok. When it starts smoking, add the mushrooms and cook for four minutes. Transfer to a plate. Add the rest of the oil to the wok. Mix in the whites of the onion and the minced ginger and garlic. Saute on medium flame for a few minutes. Add the vegetables and let them cook for seven minutes. Meanwhile, drain the water from the cooked mushroom and return to the pan along with the vegetables. Add all the sauces to this mixture and half the scallion greens. Mix in the sauces and the cooked rice. Toss it all together gently (the rice might break into a mush so gently toss with the help of a spatula).
Finally, add the cashew nuts and garnish with scallion greens. This fried rice goes well with veg balls in garlic sauce but the Indian in me loves it with Raita or plain yogurt.
Can add: egg, baby corn, green peppers, Paneer, cabbage.