Fact: Every cuisine in Southeast Asia has been influenced by the Chinese in one or more ways.
Fact: Vietnamese cooking with its sweet, spicy, salty, sour and bitter flavors is heavily influenced by the Wu Xing philosophy with each flavor corresponding with earth, metal, water, wood and fire, respectively, or the Five Elements.
From those two facts alone, it is easy to glean how much Chinese cuisine has influenced Vietnamese cooking.
When it comes to fried rice, is there a difference between Chinese and Vietnamese fried rice? Yes, there is. Vietnamese fried rice has milder flavors because of the seasonings.
In this recipe, the sweetness of the lap cheong (dried, fatty Chinese sausage) and the barbecued pork, and the saltiness of the fish sauce are balanced by a bit of lime juice.
- 2 tablespoons peanut oil
- 2 eggs (beaten with a drizzle of fish sauce)
- 1 stalk lemongrass (white portion only) (finely chopped)
- 2 cloves garlic (minced)
- 2 shallots (finely chopped)
- 1/4 cup carrot (chopped)
- 1/4 cup sweet peas (if using frozen, thaw completely)
- 1 lap cheong (thinly sliced)
- 1/2 cup barbecued pork (thin strips)
- 3 cups rice (cold cooked jasmine or other long-grain rice(read why you can't use newly-cooked rice), rubbed to separate the grains )
- Dash fish sauce (to taste)
- 1/2 tablespoon lime juice (juice of a quarter of lime)
- 1/2 cup cilantro (or lemon basil or mint, to garnish)
- Heat the peanut oil in a wok or frying pan.
- Pour in the beaten eggs. Cook, swirling often, just until set. Scoop out and transfer to a cutting board.
- Over medium heat, saute the lemongrass, garlic and shallots until softened and aromatic.
- Turn up the heat, add the chopped carrot and sweet peas, and stir fry for half a minute.
- Add the sliced lap cheong and the barbecued pork. Stir fry for about a minute.
- Add the rice. Pour in about a teaspoonful of fish sauce. Stir fry until the rice is heated through. Turn off the heat.
- Roll up the egg like a cigar and cut into thin slices. Add to the rice. Toss.
- Squeeze the lime quarter over the fried rice. Toss a few more times.
- Serve hot garnished with cilantro, lemon basil or mint, or all three.