Mission Chinese Food Salt Cod Fried Rice

This recipe, adapted from The Mission Chinese Food Cookbook by Danny Bowien and Chris Yang, isn't the simplest fried rice you can make: You'll need to start making this at least one day (and up to a week) in advance of serving. But it's pretty drop-dead fabulous. Looking for an easier one? Check out our Mission Chinese Food vs. Lucky Peach fried-rice smack-down – Round 1 and Round 2.  

Serves 4 as part of a larger meal.

Ingredients

For the fried salt cod:

6 ounces store-bought salt cod

Vegetable oil

For the mackerel confit:

4 ounces boneless mackerel fillet (fresh or thawed from frozen)

About 1 1/2 cups vegetable oil or peanut oil

For the fried rice:

3 cups warm freshly cooked jasmine rice (from about 1 1/4 cups raw)

Fried salt cod

3/4 cup Chinese sausage (lap cheong), thinly sliced

1 cup thinly sliced iceberg lettuce

1/2 cup thinly slices scallions (greens and whites)

1/2 cup coarsely chopped fresh cilantro (leaves and stems)

About 1/2 cup vegetable or peanut oil

3 large eggs, beaten

1/2 cup mackerel confit, drained of oil

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1 teaspoon sugar

1 1/2 teaspoon fish sauce

Instructions

1. Make the fried salt cod: Submerge the salt cod in cold water and refrigerate for 24 hours; change the water twice during the soaking. The next day, drain the cod, pat it dry and pull it apart into small pieces (no bigger than about 1 inch). Heat about 1/4 inch of vegetable oil in a skillet over medium heat and shallow-fry the fish until deep golden-brown and thoroughly dried out, about 10-15 minutes – it should be almost jerky-like. Transfer the fish to a paper-towel-lined plate and let it cool to room temperature, then pulse the fish into thin shreds in a food processor. 

2. Make the mackerel confit: Heat the oven to 300 degrees F. Place the mackerel in a small saucepan and pour enough oil over it to submerge it completely. Cover it tightly with a lid or foil, then slide it into the oven and cook for 25 minutes. Remove from the oven and let the fish cool completely in the oil. Flake the fish into small chunks and use immediately, or transfer to a container and store in the refrigerator for up to a week, still covered in oil.

3. Start by making a "rice stack." Put the steamed rice in a medium bowl. Set the fried salt cod on top of the rice. Cap the rice off with the sausage. You want the ingredients to hit the wok in reverse order – sausage, fish, rice – and the stack facilitates this.

4. In a large bowl, combine the lettuce, scallions and cilantro.

5. Heat a wok over the strongest heat your stove can muster. Add about 1/3 cup of the oil, and heat until almost smoking. Pull the wok off the burner, add the eggs and mackerel confit, and stir briskly in one direction (using a wok spatula, if you have one, or a wooden spoon), stopping well short of fully cooked eggs. With a hot wok, this will only take about 10 seconds. Dump the eggs and mackerel onto a plate.

6. Return the wok to the heat and get it smoking hot. Slick with 2 more tablespoons of the oil, then dump in your rice stack. Gently break up the stack and use the spatula to press the rice against the bottom and sides of the hot wok. Wait 10 seconds, then flip and stir the rice. Flatten and press again, and wait 10 seconds. Flip and flatten a last time.

7. Season the rice with the salt, sugar and fish sauce and give it a quick stir. Add the egg and mackerel and given another quick stir to distribute them. 

8. Scoop everything out of the wok and into the bowl holding the lettuce, scallions and cilantro. Give everything a toss to mix, then dish out onto a serving platter.