If you order Yangzhou fried rice in restaurants, you can be pretty sure of what you’re going to get: small pieces of various vegetables, char siu (Chinese roast pork) and small shrimp (usually frozen). Some places get a little fancier and add crabmeat instead of shrimp but, thankfully, it hasn’t gone to the extreme where chefs are adding caviar or gold leaf.
You only need the gai lan (Chinese broccoli) stems for this dish; the leaves and leafy tops can be cooked and served with the rice, although you will probably want to cook more than just the eight to 10 stalks called for in this recipe.
You can either stir-fry the gai lan with oil and salt, then stir in a drizzle of sesame oil just before turning off the flame, or blanch it by cooking in boiling water until crisp-tender, then drain, place on a plate and drizzle with oyster sauce and sesame oil. Whichever method you use, the stalks will take longer to cook than the more tender leaves, so add them to the wok or pan first.
Once the ingredients are prepared, cooking the fried rice takes only about five minutes.
Lay the stalks of Chinese broccoli (gai lan) on a cutting board with the leafy part facing left (if you are right-handed). Start cutting the stem end into rounds about 5mm thick, removing the leaves as you go, until you near the leafy end. You will need at least 60g of rounds. Reserve the leaves and leafy ends to stir-fry or blanch later.
Finely dice the carrot. Cut the baby corn into small rounds about 5mm (¼ in) thick. Finely julienne the ginger. Mince the spring onions. Keep all the vegetables in separate piles
Cut the char siu (Chinese roast pork) into short, thin strips.
Remove the heads and shells from the shrimp (reserve them to make shrimp stock or shrimp oil, for another dish). Lay the shrimp flat on the cutting board. Slicing parallel to the cutting board, cut the shrimp in half. Remove and discard the vein from the back of the shrimp. Put the shrimp in a bowl, add the rice wine and mix thoroughly.
Whisk the egg with one-quarter of a teaspoon of salt.
Use damp hands to break up the clumps of cold rice into separate grains.
Place a wok over a high flame and, when it’s hot, pour in about 45ml (3 tbsp) of cooking oil. Swirl the wok so it’s entirely coated with oil. When the oil is very hot, add the gai lan, carrot, baby corn and ginger. Sprinkle lightly with salt and stir-fry for about 30 seconds.
Add the peas and stir-fry for about 30 seconds, then mix in the char siu.
Add the rice to the wok and mix well so the ingredients are evenly distributed. With the wok spatula, spread the ingredients around the wok, then sprinkle lightly with salt and leave for about 20 seconds. Stir the ingredients together, then once again, spread the ingredients around the wok and leave for about 20 seconds (this ensures the ingredients are evenly heated). If the rice sticks, pour a little more oil around the edges of the wok.
Stir the ingredients together, then taste for seasoning; add more salt, if necessary.
Add the shrimp and stir well, then push aside the ingredients to create a small well in the centre of the wok. Pour the eggs into the well and leave undisturbed for about 30 seconds. Briefly stir the eggs with an edge of the wok spatula, then mix well, so the ingredients are lightly coated with the egg.
Stir-fry constantly for about a minute, until the shrimp are curled and pink and the rice grains are not sticking together.
Stir in the spring onion, then scoop the fried rice onto a dish and serve immediately with stir-fried or blanched green vegetables.