There are several things that seem simple enough but require precision and technique: the first cup of coffee in the morning, maneuvering through the mean streets of Manila, and making sinangag. To the kitchen novice, toasting up leftover rice by frying in garlic infused oil seems simple enough, but anybody who’s been burned by this fickle dish knows that it’s much more complicated to prepare. Rather than getting a perfectly toasted and fluffy serving of rice, more often than not, it’s a cross between crisp and mushed rice with about a fourth of it stuck on your pan. On most days when you’re rushing out the door, subpar fried rice is acceptable but let’s face it, you deserve better.
One of the best parts of making sinangag is that your leftover rice comes to good use, using chilled rice cooked from the day before is the easiest—albeit time consuming—alternatives around. We’ve all heard it from the experienced cooks in our lives, but what really happens to your rice when you leave it to cool overnight is it gives your rice time to dry out and helps the soft and sticky exterior time to stiffen for a more compact grain. Though if you have some time to kill and you didn’t get to prepare for the day’s sinangag last night, you can cook up a fresh batch of rice and let it dry.
The best fried rice goes beyond the ingredients you use—you also have to consider the tools you use and the technique you employ (More on the technique below). To test out which is the best pan to make sinangag with, we cooked one batch of rice in different pan materials: cast-iron, non-stick, carbon steel, and aluminum. The clear winner out of the four is cast-iron; it toasted the rice well without letting it stick to the pan, while the carbon steel is a close second, getting the same toasted texture but a few grains stuck onto the pan. Cooking the rice in the non-stick pan doesn’t yield the same texture and doesn’t color the rice the same way the cast-iron and carbon steel pans does, though the non-stick coating does ensure that no grain of rice gets stuck onto your pan.
Rice when cooled often clumps up. When cooking fried rice you can press on these to separate the grains of rice though within reason. If you keep pressing on the rice too much, you run the risk of getting it stuck onto the pan or turning it mushy. Keep stirring and turning your fried rice over to get each piece coated in the rendered bacon fat, the grease will add flavor to the rice. Once thoroughly toasted, your fried rice is ready to be served at breakfast – or whenever you want sinangag, really.
Yield: 2 portions
Time: 20 minutes
- 3 slices bacon
- 1 tbsp canola oil
- 6 cloves garlic, skin on and smashed
- 2 cups cooked rice, allowed to chill overnight in fridge
- magic seasoning powder, to taste
- Heat up a pan over medium heat and lay out the bacon.
- Cook until crispy, and remove from the pan and reserve.
- Add the canola oil to the hot pan with rendered bacon fat.
- Bring up to heat again.
- Toss in the smashed garlic and cook till the garlic is brown and gives off a strong aroma.
- Throw in the rice and toss till well coated with the oil.
- Keep cooking until rice is heated through.
- Season with favorite seasoning.