Garlic fried rice is such a norm dish in Japanese restaurants that one never realizes one can make it right at home too, very easily in fact. At least that was my case. Haha My sister cooked a very perfume-y butter infused garlic fried rice recently for her packed lunch, and that got me inspire to cook for my mom’s and my own packed lunch. While she had a vegan patty to accompany her garlic fried rice, I choose to go with the more straightforward route, that is with prawns (ebi エビ in Japanese).
Fried prawns were what I had in mind. That’s when I stumbled upon tatsuta-age. Both tatsuta-age 竜田揚げ and the more common karaage 唐揚げ has the -age ending which means deep-fried. But what are their differences? For tatsuta-age, the ingredient is marinated and then coated with potato starch and fried. For karaage, the ingredient is coated with seasoned wheat flour and deep fried. Although karaage nowadays are mostly marinated as well. Confuse still? The main differentiator is the use of non-similar coating; potato starch vs wheat flour. If you find a karaage using potato starch, most likely it’s actually a tatsuta-age. Do correct me if I’m wrong.
First, let’s cook the rice. Cook short-grain rice with water in a claypot/saucepan on stove top or in the rice cooker. Remove the lid once the rice is cooked to expedite drying as we don’t want wet rice. Alternately, you can transfer the cooked rice to a plate.
While the rice is busy cooking, proceed with the making of ebi tatsuta-age.
Wash the pan before cooking the fried rice.
With 4 cloves of garlic (use more if you want stronger garlic flavor), chop finely 2 cloves and slice thinly the remaining 2 cloves. Place 4 tablespoons cooking oil in the heated pan. Add sliced garlic and fry until fragrant and golden.
Garlic fried rice:
1 cup uncooked short-grain rice/calrose rice
1.5 cups water
4 tablespoons cooking oil
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped 2 cloves and thinly sliced lengthwise 2 cloves (add more garlic if you’re a garlic lover)
1 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 1/2 tablespoons soy sauce
1/4 teaspoon sea salt, adjust to taste
1/4 teaspoon garlic seasoning, adjust to taste (optional but highly recommended)
freshly ground black pepper
1-2 sprigs spring onion, finely chopped
2 fried eggs or scrambled eggs
4 small tomatoes, quartered
6 large prawns, shell removed, deveined and cleaned
1 teaspoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon sake (or mirin)
1/2 teaspoon grated ginger
potato starch (or cornstarch)
cooking oil for shallow frying
1. Cook 1 cup rice with 1.5 cups water in rice cooker or saucepan/claypot. Once cooked, remove the lid so that the rice will dry out faster.
2. While the rice is cooking, remove the prawns’ shells and devein. Clean the prawns. It’s up to you to keep or remove the tail part.
3. Place the cleaned prawns in a bowl. Add soy sauce, sake and grated ginger. Mix well. Let the marinade sit for about 10 minutes.
4. Remove the marinade liquid (I kept it for other use). Coat the prawns with potato starch (I used cornstarch) and shake off the excess.
5. Heat a pan with about 1cm cooking oil (I used coconut oil). Add the coated prawns and fry for 1-2 minutes on each side. Remove the prawns and drain on a paper towel, or like me just put on a plate and set aside. Clean the pan before using it for frying rice.
6. To cook garlic fried rice: add 4 tablespoons cooking oil in a heated pan. Add thinly sliced garlic and fry until golden brown and aromatic. Careful not to get it burnt. Remove the fried garlic, drain on paper towel, or put on a plate and set aside.
7. With the remaining garlic-infused oil in the pan, add finely chopped garlic. Fry until golden brown and aromatic. Then add 1 1/2 tablespoons butter and give it a few stirs until butter is melted and mixed with garlic.
8. Add cooked rice. Mix well to coat the rice with the butter garlic mixture. Next, add 1 1/2 tablespoons soy sauce and mix well again.
9. Then add sea salt (to taste), freshly ground black pepper, spring onion and garlic seasoning (to taste, optional but highly recommended as it adds a wonderful dimension to the garlic rice. I used Garlic Garni from Garlic Festival Foods). Give it a final few stirs and plate it. Serves warm with ebi tatsuta-age, thinly sliced fried garlic (from step 6), fried egg and tomatoes.