Life in the college town of Champaign-Urbana, Illinois has its advantages. Among them is the wide array of specialty and ethnic grocery stores less than 20 minutes from our home, supported by a diverse population of home cooks from countries around the world as well as an array of fantastic restaurants.
We shop at local Asian, Indian, and Mexican stores for spices, everyday produce, fresh meats, and bulk grains – often at lower prices than grocery store chains. We began to wonder: could we shop (almost)* exclusively at ethnic grocery stores for a month?
*Note: “almost” means we picked up occasional items from chain grocery stores. We have a three-year-old who likes mac and cheese, Spiderman Eggo Waffles, and significant quantities of milk. We strived to make our lunches and dinners from ingredients purchased at ethnic stores.
In December 2018, we tried it. We did well. Not perfect, but perfection was not our priority. We tried several new dishes, learned how to use some new-to-us ingredients, and learned how to use a wok. I didn’t track this closely, but it seems like we ate more vegetables. We certainly ate a lot of dishes for which meats were not the main ingredient, but a condiment.
This Fried Rice with Chinese Sausage and Shiitake Mushrooms is one of those dishes. It’s become one of our favorites, and we still make it a few times a month.
This fried rice recipe is based on the Yangzhou Fried Rice recipe from Fuchsia Dunlop’s Every Grain of Rice (affiliate link). I recommend this cookbook to anyone who wants to make simple Chinese dishes at home. The Stir Fried Beef with Black Bean and Chili from this book is absolutely life changing. (We discovered Lao Gan Ma Spicy Chili Crisp and Chili Oil with Black Bean. If you’ve had these, you get it.)
Tips for Making The Best Fried Rice with Chinese Sausage
- For the best texture, do not use fresh cooked rice. Use leftover rice that’s been completely cooled. Rice from the previous day is great.
- Medium grain rice is the standard for fried rice, but we also like to use short-grain sushi rice.
- Break up your leftover rice a bit before you add it to the wok or pan. It’s ok if some lumps remain. When you add the chicken stock and shaoxing wine, the steam will help break the rice apart.
- Forget the soy sauce! This recipe doesn’t need it. Use soy sauce as a condiment if you must, but there will be plenty of flavor in this recipe without it.
Key Ingredients in Fried Rice with Chinese Sausage and Shiitake Mushrooms
There are many types of Chinese sausages, also known as lap xuong or lap cheong. Look for the sweet, cured, hot-dog-sized pork sausages like the ones pictured below. They are available in most Asian markets. I like to use the less sodium variety, but the regular kind work well too. Adjust your seasonings accordingly.
For this particular fried rice, I like the slightly crisp texture that results from stir-frying little bits of sausage. So I slice each sausage lengthwise into four strips, then dice it.
Little bits. Think of it as meat candy!
Green Onions or Scallions
Some recipes for fried rice call for only the green tops of the onions or scallions. I use the white and green parts, and slice them thinly so they cook quickly.
Shaoxing wine (Chinese rice cooking wine) is the magical ingredient in this recipe. It takes home cooked fried rice and gives it a special takeout-restaurant flavor. Once it’s a part of your pantry, try it in other Chinese dishes, from simple stir fries to soups.
Using a Wok
We use (and love) a carbon steel wok. It’s a traditional style with a round bottom and wood handle. A round bottom wok only works on a gas stove, so if you have an electric or induction range, you’ll want to choose a flat-bottomed wok. Purchasing, seasoning, and using a wok are topics that deserve their own post, and I look forward to sharing my experience on those topics.
You can make this fried rice in a skillet or other pan, but you’ll be missing out on that wok hay – “the magical essence that is released by a good wok when it is properly cared for and heated to the right temperature, and when the freshest ingredients are used.”
Fried Rice with Chinese Sausage and Shiitake Mushrooms
- 3 tbsp peanut or vegetable oil – divided
- 3 chinese sausages – diced
- 2 eggs – beaten
- 2 dashes ground white pepper
- 2 scallions – thinly sliced
- 4 oz shiitake mushrooms – about 8, thinly sliced
- 5 cups medium grain white rice – cooked and cooled completely
- 1 tsp kosher salt – plus additional to taste
- 1 tsp shaoxing wine
- 3/4 cup low-sodium chicken stock
Prepare Your Ingredients
- Dice sausages. Slice green onions and shiitake mushrooms.
- In a small bowl or pint-size mason jar, beat eggs with white pepper and a pinch of salt until well blended.
- In a bowl or small measuring cup, combine shaoxing wine and chicken broth.
- Assemble all ingredients near your stove. The cooking process happens quickly, so you’ll need everything close a hand.
Cook it Up
- Heat a wok on high for about 2 minutes. You want the wok to be quite hot.
- Add a small drizzle of the 3 tbsp of oil to the wok, then immediately add the diced sausage. (The oil may smoke a bit.)
- Stir continuously until sausage is slightly crisp. Remove sausage from wok and set aside, leaving most of the oil in the wok.
- Add the remainder of the oil to the wok, and heat briefly until shimmering. Pour in the beaten egg mixture, and immediately scramble with a spatula to break it up into small chunks. Cook for about 30 seconds.
- As soon as the egg is mostly cooked, add the rice and cooked sausage. Break up any large clumps and stir fry for about a minute.
- Add the shiitake mushrooms. Stir fry for about 3 more minutes, or until mushrooms are mostly cooked.
- Pour broth and wine mixture to rice. Season with 1 tsp of kosher salt. (Use less or more to taste – I think 1 tsp is a good place to start.)
- Continue to stir fry for about 2 more minutes, lifting rice that comes into contact with the wok and folding it onto the top. You want some light browning to happen in a few places. That’s flavor!
- Add green onions, and stir fry for a minute longer, until onions are just barely cooked.
- Remove from heat, serve, and enjoy!
- This recipe is based on the Yangzhou Fried Rice recipe from Every Grain of Rice by Fuchsia Dunlop.