Uncle Roger is disappointed with your egg fried rice recipe
August 30, 2020 9:11 AM   Subscribe

Niece and nephew, Uncle Roger is here to let you know that these egg fried rice (Hersha Patel) recipes are terrible (Jamie Oliver) hiyaaaaaaa.
posted by Foci for Analysis (88 comments total) 27 users marked this as a favorite
 


MSG on baby!
posted by doctornemo at 9:31 AM on August 30 [6 favorites]


Additional context: Uncle Roger is a character invented by Nigel Ng, a Malaysian stand-up comedian based in the UK. He does some good podcasts and other stuff too.
posted by lazaruslong at 9:33 AM on August 30 [15 favorites]




Uncle Roger's blind reaction to the Kung Fu Chef Lady is, by far, my favorite.

And Nigel's stand up is great!
posted by Frayed Knot at 9:47 AM on August 30 [2 favorites]


the malaysians i know kinda cringed at the accent, esp since it's a more Hong Kong caricature (which has its own can of worms re: how the various diasporic communities consider each other). i won't say there aren't any chinese uncles of the malaysian/singaporean side who doesn't sound like this, but if they are, why would they sound like this? naturally, the video that got him viral was the one where he reacted to patel's, just because by virtue of asian-on-asian crime and betrayal. except that also led to the south asians being mad that the east and southeast asians were making fun of how they cook rice (what patel did was basically doing rice her cultural way - parboiling - and then frying it up). arguably the problem is fresh rice of any kind is just the wrong type for fried rice, which does best with the slightly hard and cold overnight ones, what more the fluffy more humid rice that parboil makes.

it was a wild week on twitter where i was, let's just say, since the overlap between what makes a person east, south, or southeast asian isn't exactly crystal clear lol. literally even the malaysian indians i know initially laughed at it (because fried rice tips above), until the non-seasian south asian diaspora spoke up, and i had one friend went, oh yeah we do cook rice this way at home!

in any case they met up for a video on his channel, but i can't tell you how it went, because i seriously haven't been paying him little attention.

anyway, i might be too tough on him, 'asians are like this amirite' humour has its own audience, just not for me.
posted by cendawanita at 9:57 AM on August 30 [44 favorites]


Entertaining videos, thanks for sharing. For me, the best thing about all this is Hersha Patel's funny and graceful response. It's a masterclass in how to stand up for yourself and even make a positive connection while doing so.
posted by rpfields at 10:19 AM on August 30


Enjoyed the Jamie Oliver one a lot. Someone has to hold the man to account.
posted by ominous_paws at 11:04 AM on August 30 [12 favorites]


I mean the man blends "silken firm tofu" into SLAW DRESSING for God's sake, that ugly tear for the rice wasn't the half of it.
posted by ominous_paws at 11:09 AM on August 30 [2 favorites]


I'd never heard of the "water up to the first finger joint" rule. I wonder if that also applies to brown rice?
posted by Greg_Ace at 11:11 AM on August 30 [2 favorites]


"Don't wang anything in kitchen" - wise words for the ages.
posted by Greg_Ace at 11:18 AM on August 30 [6 favorites]


Brown rice needs more water, so does basmati rice.

I use up to the second joint tho, but I have small hands. And it's your finger on the surface of the rice, not the base of the pot. Yeah, I wouldn't know how to measure out the water ratio using proper measures.
posted by cendawanita at 11:22 AM on August 30 [7 favorites]


Who made your tofu. Capri Sun?

Now that's a proper joke!
posted by Greg_Ace at 11:40 AM on August 30 [7 favorites]


Nigel's video spread like wildfire online. There was a whole week or two post-Uncle-Roger-egg-fried-rice where a lot of YouTubers put out egg fried rice videos and also where every video that was about rice cooking had some kind of Uncle Roger comment.

And some people were pretty vicious on the Internet for the way Hersha Patel cooked rice. It got to the point where she was supposedly getting death threats on her IG for it. That's pretty bad, but at least both of them acted quickly with public appearances together to stamp that out.
posted by FJT at 11:47 AM on August 30 [2 favorites]


in any case they met up for a video on his channel, but i can't tell you how it went, because i seriously haven't been paying him little attention.

That link is the second link in the post....You really haven't been paying attention :-)
posted by Pendragon at 11:49 AM on August 30 [1 favorite]


What the fuck is that Jamie Oliver recipe? Olive oil? Silken tofu? Like... is it a joke?
posted by obfuscation at 12:03 PM on August 30 [8 favorites]


The Jamie Oliver one is hilarious. And now I need egg fried rice. The Uncle Roger way of course.
posted by Splunge at 12:08 PM on August 30


in any case they met up for a video on his channel yt , but i can't tell you how it went,

Their meetup was completely charming!
posted by Bwithh at 12:16 PM on August 30 [2 favorites]


never understood ruining perfectly good rice with eggs
posted by thelonius at 12:18 PM on August 30 [2 favorites]


What the fuck is that Jamie Oliver recipe? Olive oil? Silken tofu? Like... is it a joke?

Jamie's obsession with olive oil has been problematic for decades.
posted by Foci for Analysis at 12:36 PM on August 30 [5 favorites]


Out of context, the Jamie Oliver one is easily mockable, granted! But the specific series it's taken from (which I enjoy) is explicitly, according to Oliver, intended for people who are intimidated by cooking, need to put something together fast on a weeknight after work, and he tries to use some prepackaged ingredients (where it won't be ruinous) to simplify things. Hence the precooked rice. The basic idea being that it's better to do this than order takeout all the time. So, of course he's doing everything "inauthentically" and "wrong" (agree he should use a different oil, though).
posted by demonic winged headgear at 12:42 PM on August 30 [17 favorites]


That makes wasting time ruining the spring onion seem like a calculated insult.
posted by howfar at 12:48 PM on August 30 [4 favorites]


Jamie's obsession with olive oil has been problematic for decades.--Foci for Analysis

Jamie Oliver and Olive Oil

posted by eye of newt at 1:32 PM on August 30 [4 favorites]


"Ruining the spring onion" is a quaint English folk names for a traditional rice-and-eggs dish (similar to "toad in the hole" or "spotted dick").
posted by Greg_Ace at 1:46 PM on August 30 [4 favorites]


Dunno, the olive oil looks good to me. For Mediterranean cuisine.

/Hasn't cooked with sunflower seed oil since being an exchange student in Germany where olive oil was sold in tiny glass bottles in speciality shops instead of 1L plastic bottles in the supermarket
posted by sukeban at 1:49 PM on August 30


Hasn't cooked with sunflower seed oil since being an exchange student in Germany where olive oil was sold in tiny glass bottles in speciality shops instead of 1L plastic bottles in the supermarket

There's pretty good odds those supermarket 1L bottles are counterfeit olive oil.
posted by srboisvert at 2:38 PM on August 30 [1 favorite]


While olive oil adulteration is still a problem in the EU, it's nowhere near as significant a problem as it is in the US, and although plenty of adulterated oil originates in Spain (due to Spain being the world's largest olive oil producer), where sukeban is, it isn't a commonplace problem on supermarket shelves as far as I know. Per this 2018 article in El Pais on an assessment of 41 common brands "In previous studies, the OCU has discovered products that have been mixed with other oils and a lampante oil – an unrefined substance that is banned from commercial sale. This year, the organization has not found such serious breaches but instead various defects in taste and flavor, a problem that has also occurred in Belgium, Italy and Portugal, although to a lesser degree".

You certainly can't assume you're getting what you pay for anywhere, but the level of food adulteration and misrepresentation in US is pretty much unique in the developed world.
posted by howfar at 2:57 PM on August 30 [6 favorites]


While olive oil adulteration is still a problem in the EU, it's nowhere near as significant a problem as it is in the US

Offtopic, but with respect to EVOO specifically,

In 2015, 32.3% of samples tested by the Germans (CVUA Stuttgart) failed.
In 2016, 11.8% of samples tested by the Italian MInistry of Health failed.
In 2017, 37% of samples tested by the Australians (Wagga Wagga lab) failed.
in 2018, 20 out of 41 oils tested by the OCU in Spain failed.
In 2019 Europol seized 150,000L of adulterated oil intended for German restaurant consumption in a single operation.

Regardless of where you live, if you're consuming olive oil that hasn't been certified by organizations like the North American Olive Oil Association or the Extra Virgin Alliance (both of which test retail samples, rather than relying on the producer to submit samples), the odds are pretty good you've been consuming fake or mislabeled oil at some point or other ("failure" in the above list includes low grade [including non-food grade] olive oil being passed off as EVOO, as well as outright adulteration with other compounds).

In the US, if you're buying an "italian" olive oil the odds are extremely high (~70%) that it's been faked in some way (don't buy Bertolli or Colavita specifically, as they've been caught in the past and judging from their current claims on the matter they are still engaging in deceptive practices (they talk a lot about the origin of the olives, rather than the oil itself. I can make fraudulent oil that uses 100% Italian olives, but which is 90% Canadian rapeseed). Meanwhile, only 10% of Californian oil fails tests, which is on par with in-country Italian results.

If you're not physically in Italy, don't buy Italian oil. If you're in the US, definitely don't buy Italian oil -- buy Californian instead.
posted by aramaic at 3:57 PM on August 30 [29 favorites]


in 2018, 20 out of 41 oils tested by the OCU in Spain failed

They failed a taste test, not a purity test. A fact I directly cited in the comment you're responding to: "This year, the organization has not found such serious breaches but instead various defects in taste and flavor".

If you're not physically in Italy, don't buy Italian oil. If you're in the US, definitely don't buy Italian oil.

This is not great advice. The Italian market has been subject to more penetration by falsely labeled and adulterated olive oil than a number of other EU markets.
posted by howfar at 4:36 PM on August 30 [1 favorite]


If you're in the EU, I'd suggest buying what you think tastes good, in the confidence of shopping within the most heavily and effectively regulated large-scale consumer market in history. This does not mean it's perfect, but the idea that there's an equivalence between the EU and the US on these matters is, frankly, risible.
posted by howfar at 4:48 PM on August 30 [7 favorites]


...I was trying to agree with you? I mean, I included the 70% US statistic for a reason, and it's not to defend the US?

I mean, we can fight about it if you really want, but I'm not sure what it would achieve.
posted by aramaic at 4:50 PM on August 30


Olive oil smokes at the temperature you should be using for egg fried rice. Just use canola (aka Canadian rapeseed) - same health benefits as olive oil but at a fraction of the price. Save the olive oil for when you will really taste it (e.g. on pasta, where canola is a bit gross).
posted by jb at 5:15 PM on August 30 [6 favorites]


That link is the second link in the post....You really haven't been paying attention :-)

I truly haven't! that's some clever crisis control though, if she says she makes the rice at home with overnight rice, why did the bbc video start with fresh parboiled rice? that said, if i can point out another south v east asia cultural divide from the video, it's the rice cooker in the house. uncle roger might feel dead surprised but tbh it's not just westerners who don't have it as a norm. i remember feeling surprised as well, i really thought rice cookers is standard in all of asia, until my bangalore flatmate asked about the three different machines in the kitchen (1 malaysian girl and 2 china boys, go figure). she couldn't even guess what they were despite living together for months, since she's been making her rice on the stove with a pressure cooker.

fwiw re: olive oil, i thought the thinking is at least more forgiving for pure olive oil (pure by the industry category not a dictionary definition of it) because of the higher smoke point? but keep the extra virgin stuff for low-heat/no-heat recipes since that just ruins the taste.

but for fried rice, definitely pick high smoke points oil.
posted by cendawanita at 7:06 PM on August 30


if she says she makes the rice at home with overnight rice, why did the bbc video start with fresh parboiled rice?

In the interview video, she says she was given the recipe to present by her bosses at the BBC, and she followed the recipe she was given.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 7:18 PM on August 30 [9 favorites]


ah well, work that hustle, girl.
posted by cendawanita at 7:20 PM on August 30


Rice cookers never became popular in South Asia, as many don't do a good job with basmati right.

2:1 water does sound high. I do that ratio, but that's because I like my rice as squishy and wet as possible. I love risotto. But I've been cutting back lately, doing more like 3:2.
posted by jb at 7:37 PM on August 30 [1 favorite]


I always use a rice cooker, and mine came with a little cup (that does not map at all onto an American “cup”) so we generally use that for white rice, but I’ve found that if I use the rice cooker for a rice or grain blend that calls for a different ratio, using whatever measurements are called for still turns out perfectly. Brown rice, wild rice, rice/grain blend, whatever I put in it ends up perfect.

Basically a rice cooker is a very good use of the space it takes up.
posted by padraigin at 7:44 PM on August 30 [2 favorites]


There's an aside about how Uncle Roger may or may be not be somewhat offensive, fraudulent olive oil and everything except the damn recipe on how to properly make egg fried rice. Give 👏 me 👏 the 👏 recipe 👏.
posted by geoff. at 9:46 PM on August 30 [4 favorites]


These comments are so interesting for me because all of my South Asian family and friends in the US have rice cookers, even the wizened aunties who believe that it's only real cooking if you're chatting while minding a stove full of simmering curries for hours.
posted by BlueBlueElectricBlue at 9:48 PM on August 30 [1 favorite]


Have to admit, Uncle Roger has some valid criticisms. 'Course I learned to make fried rice in Taiwan in the early 80's, so I would think that. Draining and then rinsing the rice seems so, so odd to me.

Easiest is when you use a rice cooker, but you can use a pot and let it overcook a bit if you like the hard bits that stick to the side. Yes, you rinse the rice. I observed top of rice to first knuckle but 2-1 or 1-3/4 to 1 in a rice cooker works fine. You always use leftover rice that's sat overnight, because warm soft rice soaks up the oil too much. Egg-fried rice is leftovers.

You put the oil in _first_, and let it heat up and put garlic and ginger in it _next_, stirring it around for 30 seconds to flavor the oil. Shocked, shocked that Uncle Rodger didn't point that out. What's this, throwing all these vegetables in first and then putting garlic and ginger in later.

I don't remember seeing shelled peas used much in Taiwan. Chinese broccoli. Long beans. Celery. Not peas. You put these vegetables in, cook them a minute or two (parboiled first in the case of the broccoli), then put in the (pre-cooked, like Hersha did) egg and the rice, and heat awhile stirring until the the rice is hot and everything's evenly distributed.

MSG... yeah, lots of MSG back then. For me, salt and a little (1/8tsp) sugar work fine though. Tiny bit of soy sauce for color maybe. Or Chinese fermented black beans.

You do this in a metal round-bottom wok, over flame, not a non-stick pan on an induction stove. And if you do use a non-stick pan, you'd never use a metal implement in it. Uncle Roger's right again there.

So yeah Uncle Roger has all the right rice-cooking instincts and the main thing that's problematic is the Aiyah (not like any I've ever heard). And also Nigel doesn't look anything like the character he's portraying. But I can overlook that.
posted by dougfelt at 10:52 PM on August 30 [9 favorites]


I gasped watching that Jamie Oliver video, when he added water. I was like whyyyyyy.
posted by Ms. Moonlight at 1:59 AM on August 31


Atlas Obscura: How the rice cooker was invented by a woman (a response to the Mr Roger's rice controversy)

Cooking rice was an extremely manual, time consuming and highly skilled process in Japan.

Rice had to be cooked 3 times a day using a wood fire on a kamado stove. Pumping the bellows required physical strength, and modulating the heat required skill, with the rice needing first high heat to boil the water, then low heat to cook, then high heat to finish off.

Many electronic companies (like Sony, Mitsubishi and Panasonic) failed in their attempts at creating an automatic rice cooker.

Cooking rice was a technical endeavor, and the male engineers working on the project had never stepped foot into the kitchen. After failing to create a practical model, they concluded that any woman who wasn't willing to give up the requisite time, effort, and sleep it took to prepare perfect rice was a “failed housewife” anyway.

A down on his luck water heater engineer came to Toshiba looking for work and was given the task of inventing an automatic rice cooker. Because he didn't know anything about making rice, he passed on the work of research and prototyping them to his wife, Fumiko. He mortgaged his home to buy them time, while she worked tirelessly to create numerous prototypes until she hit upon one which succeeded.

In Japan, more than 50% of households had an automatic rice cooker within years of its invention.
posted by xdvesper at 4:18 AM on August 31 [33 favorites]


Your favourite way to make rice sucks.
posted by terrapin at 5:50 AM on August 31 [5 favorites]


I'm married to an impulse-buying gadget guy and my first thought when he brought home the rice cooker was, we don't have room for this. And I was opposed on principle to the measuring cup that has no conventional equivalents, and therefore cannot be lost or separated from the mothership. But now I have to say: It's magic and I love it. Then he got me a Ballarini stir-fry pan, which has upped my fried rice game tremendously - I think even Uncle Roger might approve.
posted by Sweetie Darling at 6:07 AM on August 31


Hell, it would be weird to hold forth on your own culture's cooking based on experiences from 40 years ago

See: almost all Italian restaurants in the USA.
posted by grumpybear69 at 6:12 AM on August 31 [2 favorites]


Every rice cooker I’ve had has made good rice, but the bottom layer of rice has always stuck so badly to the inside of the cooker that it had to soak for an hour before washing. Of course, they’ve all been cheap models.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 6:37 AM on August 31


I'm surprised to see how many people make soggy fried rice. I make mine by frying yesterday's cold rice in a wok , flipping it occasionally to begin with, and then more frequently as the rice heats up and emits a toasted odour. Then I add my blanched vegetables and cooked protein, and toss them through to warm up and mix the flavours. I love the aroma that the initial frying gives the rice, and the way this method preserves colour and texture. Am I the only person who does this?
posted by Joe in Australia at 7:35 AM on August 31 [1 favorite]


[one deleted. let's focus our attention on Uncle Roger and egg fried rice, not other commenters in this thread. Also, please be mindful of the ways we discuss foods/traditions/cultures other than our own.]
posted by travelingthyme (staff) at 7:38 AM on August 31


to be fair, there are many variations of fried rice anyway, depending on region/taste/ethnic group, which nigel ng should know, being malaysian, which makes the entire skit a bit suspect to begin with. tho tbf... i guess the low-hanging fruits of the videos he's reacting to was just waiting for some ragging - of the good natured kind, but then patel got death threats so maybe not.

as long as you have harder/colder rice, toss the aromatics first then meats + seasoning, rice, set aside and fry the egg in the leavings and add everything back to break up the egg, that's your basic fried rice with egg. your aromatics/seasonings/umami agent/protein unit are usually what differentiates the various types. the opportunity for a british or american standard versions is there, you guys should take it. as long as there's appreciation and not appropriation of course.

I'm surprised to see how many people make soggy fried rice. I make mine by frying yesterday's cold rice in a wok--


to be fair, you can get very nice crispyish rice as long as you have it in a hot enough pan, and something like a wok or a thin-plated non-stick steel pan is probably your best bet. (and doing the egg separately) anything that helps to keep heat nice and even and distributed is prlly counter-logical for this method of cooking. like, i wouldn't use a wok to do a leave-it-and-forget-it stew or braise, it'll need constant supervision and liquid-turning just so it won't stick to the bottom of it.
posted by cendawanita at 8:28 AM on August 31 [2 favorites]


I love my Zojirushi Neuro-Fuzzy that plays twinkle twinkle little star and makes perfect rice every time. It gets used about 3 times a week. Any leftover rice from one batch goes immediately into the fridge for fried rice the next day. It's seriously my favorite kitchen gadget.

And I know this sounds strange coming from an American, but what is it with British people and food? I watch a lot of British food TV and so much of it is trying to get people to step into a kitchen in the first place, or eat a vegetable that hasn't been boiled for 6 hours, or eat any vegetables at all. This is what half of Jamie Oliver's stuff is geared to, Gordon Ramsay made a big thing about it on the F-Word, and Hugh Fearnley-Wittingstall has basically made an entire series about getting people to grow and eat broccoli and lettuce. Then you have fried rice recipes that are so bad they're borderline racist (but they're super easy!).

Is this actually as much of a problem as it seems to be, or does it just get played up a lot on TV? Some American TV is geared towards this, with a focus on preparing food quickly for families rather than getting takeout, but maybe our TV in general is far too classist and ignores the fact that not a lot of people were raised on fresh vegetables and actually hate green beans because they've only been exposed to the gray canned versions.
posted by mikesch at 8:39 AM on August 31 [2 favorites]


The forensics of food oils is a pretty interesting challenge analytically. We spent a few years doing it back in the late 2000s and early 2010s, and came to the conclusion that we could certainly id species, (so canola vs soy vs olive is pretty easy), countries of origin or farms weren't really possible---too much batch to batch variation. Lots of chemical targets to use fortunately, not just triglycerides, had a lot of luck with sterols too. Even surviving esterification, which was the reason we were looking at it--trying to fingerprint biodiesels.
posted by bonehead at 9:12 AM on August 31 [3 favorites]


the main thing that's problematic is the Aiyah (not like any I've ever heard).

My Singaporean mom says aiyah just like him (I mean, maybe not quite AS exaggerated but it's pretty over the top) -- let's just say I heard it a lot when I was a teenager.
posted by thebots at 9:20 AM on August 31 [4 favorites]


If you have something like a Zojirushi rice cooker, what you do is measure out rice into the rice cooker using the cup that came with the rice cooker. The inner pot will have markings inside indicating what you're cooking (porridge, white rice, etc.) and a number - just pour water up to the line matching the number of cups of rice you put in, and what you're making.

This is entirely based on cooking medium-grained or sushi rice that is the staple of Korean and Japanese meals. I don't know if this works at all with long-grained rice varieties.
posted by needled at 9:38 AM on August 31 [1 favorite]


For rice other than short or medium grain rice, ignore the lines and check the Zojirushi site for the correct ratio of rice to water and other settings for your specific rice cooker model.
posted by zamboni at 9:56 AM on August 31 [1 favorite]


Speaking of rice cookers, there is a very good Technology Connections on the technology of the rice cooker. Magnets! How do they cook?

Also seconding that excellent article from Atlas Obscura. I would have pegged the rice cooker as being a lot older than it is! It also taught me what the kamado in my Animal Crossing game was for!
posted by fifteen schnitzengruben is my limit at 10:21 AM on August 31 [2 favorites]


The ratios printed on big bags of Asian rice are assuming you wash the rice, which adds an additional amount of water obviously. I never wash the rice. Mrs w0mbat is Japanese American and tells me I should wash the rice but I’ve tried it both ways and there was no detectable difference apart from the extra water. We are buying nice clean premium rice.

She has converted me to using a rice cooker though. I find a cup and a half of water for each cup of rice seems to work for any kind of rice in a rice cooker. We have an ancient mechanical one and it is excellent. It cooks until the temp goes above 100 c, which means the liquid water has evaporated, and that is the Curie point for a particular piece of metal stuck to a magnet, so it releases the bond and breaks the circuit and the machine stops. So ingenious.
posted by w0mbat at 10:52 AM on August 31 [2 favorites]


what is it with British people and food? I watch a lot of British food TV and so much of it is trying to get people to step into a kitchen in the first place, or eat a vegetable that hasn't been boiled for 6 hours, or eat any vegetables at all.

British houses are small - especially for lower-income people, often have cramped kitchens, and it's cheaper to get a package of 8 sausage rolls than it is to buy an apple, or other fruits and vegetables.

This may also be cultural: As a country, Britain also urbanized earlier and switched to industrial and mass-produced food earlier than almost any other. Urban populations are not just 1-2 generations "from the farm", as in many places, but more like 6-8 generations, with a different cultural history. I have done research on the eating habits of working-class Londoners in c1900-1910, compared to that of working class New Yorkers at about the same time. Most working class Londoners lived primarily on bread, tea and margarine, with maybe a roast on Sunday. New Yorkers - especially Italian families - ate substantially more vegetables. (Also, Jewish families in London ate more fish and fish oil, which was good for general health, but not sufficient to make up for the lack of sunlight, so their kids still got rickets like the non-Jewish kids).

If you've never cooked much with vegetables, never had good vegetables, never had a Nonna who made her own bruschetta, etc., you'd probably be less interested in vegetables as well. Compared to carbs and fats (the mainstay of British eating), vegetables aren't as tasty.

Once you add in contemporary British poverty, high levels of food insecurity, and the fact that fresh fruits and vegetables cost considerably more there than in the United States or Canada - and it can be hard to justify making your kids eat an apple when (as I noted above) a package of 8 sausage rolls costs less and will keep them full longer. (NB: Apple vs sausage roll comparison is based on actual prices in my local Sainsbury's.)
posted by jb at 10:58 AM on August 31 [18 favorites]


I never wash the rice. Mrs w0mbat is Japanese American and tells me I should wash the rice but I’ve tried it both ways and there was no detectable difference apart from the extra water. We are buying nice clean premium rice.


I worked in many types of restaurants and learned to cook rice many different ways. For Japanese style white rice, washing does make a difference. I worked in a fancy Suhsi restaurant in Notting Hill in London where they had a cargo cult version of Japanese apprenticeship, it took me months to be allowed to wash and cook the rice, and the head chef could tell just by looking at the finished rice whether or not I had washed it properly. After about 100 batches I got it right and could feel the difference.

It cooks until the temp goes above 100 c, which means the liquid water has evaporated, and that is the Curie point for a particular piece of metal stuck to a magnet

This is an amazingly clever and simple piece of technology. Comparable to the old Sunbeam Radiant Control Toaster (look it up, the mechanisms is very clever, depending on the mechanical properties of different metals expanding and contracting to deliver perfect toast every time).

But it sucks if you live 1,600 meters over sea level, like I do. Water here boils between 94.5 and 96 C, depending on mineral content I guess, so you always end up with a layer of burnt crispy rice, which is OK most of the time, but not for all recipes.




Let me know when we get to Mexican rice. Families have been divided over the right way to cook morisqueta. The Apatzingán way, which goes well with meat but does not pick-up a lot of sauce, or the Jalisco way, were you aim for a very glutinous mess, which becomes PERFECT once you add it to the bean broth. And that is before you get into the complicated world of parboiling, pan frying, stir frying and order of operations.
posted by Dr. Curare at 11:06 AM on August 31 [8 favorites]


I'm married to an impulse-buying gadget guy and my first thought when he brought home the rice cooker was, we don't have room for this. And I was opposed on principle to the measuring cup that has no conventional equivalents, and therefore cannot be lost or separated from the mothership. [Sweetie Darling]

This might be helpful/consoling:

"A standard Japanese cup measure is 200 cc. This is about five-sixths of a standard American cup. Don’t, however, get this confused with the cup measure used in your rice cooker. This is calibrated to the old Japanese system — called a go (ichi-go, ni-go, etc.) — in which one cup is just 180 cc."

[Source]
posted by Insert Clever Name Here at 11:21 AM on August 31 [9 favorites]


Let me know when we get to Mexican rice. Families have been divided over the right way to cook morisqueta. The Apatzingán way, which goes well with meat but does not pick-up a lot of sauce, or the Jalisco way, were you aim for a very glutinous mess, which becomes PERFECT once you add it to the bean broth. And that is before you get into the complicated world of parboiling, pan frying, stir frying and order of operations.

The method I got from my sister who is marrying into a Mexican family is to fry the rice first in a decent quantity of oil, add some onion when it's "done" and continue to fry until the onion turns translucent. At this point I transfer it to a rice cooker (so I can forget about it) and add either canned tomato or tomato puree. In the case of canned tomato I strain it, add water up to where it should be and add some caldo (or stock when available). I then toss the strained tomatoes in and start the cooker. It comes out perfectly every time and is closer to what I get in decent Mexican restaurants than any of the bizarro recipes I see online.
posted by mikesch at 11:36 AM on August 31 [10 favorites]


When I first saw the name “Uncle Roger,” my mind immediately went to Uncle Roger Collins from Dark Shadows, and I assumed the recipe would be 90% brandy and 10% wry comments.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 12:53 PM on August 31 [1 favorite]


Variety's profile of Nigel Ng and more of a dive into his Uncle Roger persona.

While he says Uncle Roger — with his Cantonese accent, exclamations of “ai-yah,” and love of MSG — plays into a stereotype, it’s the subtleties about him that make him recognizable and relatable, especially to members of the East Asian diaspora. The details, from the staccato manner in which Uncle Roger speaks to the way he props up his leg while sitting (something Ng says anyone who has seen middle-aged men gathered in a coffee shop in Malaysia do), are all inspired from his own experience.
posted by toastyk at 12:59 PM on August 31 [4 favorites]


Yeah, the "ai-yah" thing and the weird seemingly hectoring tone ("Why you so afraid of fried rice??? Where your courage?") is a pretty spot-on spoof of my (Chinese Malaysian) family, as, to be honest, is the getting massively hung up on tiny details of something like how you make fried rice, to the extent that I get a bit nervous that at some point he's going to change subject and start berating me about my career choices.
posted by doop at 1:25 PM on August 31 [15 favorites]


Came to defend “aiyah”; it was and still is common in my (I’m 2nd-generation) Taiwanese-American household. I still hear it in my Ama’s voice.
posted by RisforKickin at 2:02 PM on August 31 [2 favorites]


Life has been so stressful lately; this is so wonderfully silly, is making me giggle and teaching me how to make better fried rice. Thanks.
posted by kitcat at 2:33 PM on August 31 [2 favorites]


Nigel is funny.
He knows his character is a stereotype and he does not care
posted by davebarnes at 3:14 PM on August 31 [1 favorite]


The method I got from my sister who is marrying into a Mexican family is to fry the rice first in a decent quantity of oil, add some onion when it's "done" and continue to fry until the onion turns translucent.

This is exactly what I am talking about. One side of my family uses very little oil and adds the onion from the start. Another side of the family uses quite a bit of oil and adds the onion when the rice aroma changes. But the best one uses pig lard and a piece of carbonized tortilla to act as activated charcoal and remove some of the gamey aromas of the lard.

Frying the onion until it becomes translucent is a legit technique called acitronar, you can find it in the Spanish edition of the Larousse Gastronomique. You fry the onion until it looks like acitrón, a candy made of the crystalized flesh of Biznaga cactus, one of several species of Ferocactus, Melocactus or Echinocactus.
posted by Dr. Curare at 3:58 PM on August 31 [4 favorites]


This may also be cultural: As a country, Britain also urbanized earlier and switched to industrial and mass-produced food earlier than almost any other. Urban populations are not just 1-2 generations "from the farm", as in many places, but more like 6-8 generations, with a different cultural history. I have done research on the eating habits of working-class Londoners in c1900-1910, compared to that of working class New Yorkers at about the same time. Most working class Londoners lived primarily on bread, tea and margarine, with maybe a roast on Sunday. New Yorkers - especially Italian families - ate substantially more vegetables. (Also, Jewish families in London ate more fish and fish oil, which was good for general health, but not sufficient to make up for the lack of sunlight, so their kids still got rickets like the non-Jewish kids).

There's also climactic factors; one simple measure of the cumulative temperature above freezing is the growing degree day; the higher, the longer and warmer the growing season. Here's a comparison of weather. London has about 1250 GDD (deg C), while New York has over 2000; it's just a lot easier to grow vegetables in and around New York. Further, London is in the warmest part of the UK, while NYC is in a relatively cold part of the US. If you start shipping internally, New York has access to (say) Kansas City at 2500 GDD (or Fresno at 3000, or Miami at 5500), while London has access to... mostly colder places; like Liverpool or Cornwall at around 800 GDD, or Glasgow at 600.

In the 20th century, advances in refrigeration, transportation, logistics and trade deals mean that today, people in major cities have access to food from around the world. But 150 years ago, getting produce to New York from a distant location involved packing it, then sending it on a train. Getting it to London from warmer climes involved two train trips with a boat trip across the Channel in between - and all three of these loading/unloadings involved stevedores carrying crates of veg on and off of train cars - but also negotiation with a supply chain in a different country, that spoke a different language, and that you'd probably fought a war with recently. That just ain't worth it for fresh veg.
posted by Superilla at 4:03 PM on August 31 [4 favorites]


The newer Zujiroshis have different rice-to and water-to markings on the pot for different kinds of rice (brown included), and you punch in the appropriate program for that kind of rice. I love my Fuzzy Neo, but it seems to take a really long time to cook.

Cantonese. Various rice cookers. The way I've been taught is to wash rice (the washing water can be saved for watering plants), and add water so that the depth of the settled rice is the depth of the water on top of the rice. This applied to various mid- and long- grain Jasmine-type rice. I can't remember the formula for glutinous rice as I'm not a fan.

I've also been taught to use a pot with a lid with a closable hole. Same ratio of rice and water, close lid, hole open. Bring quickly to boil, then close the hole and turn off the heat (leave on the electric element). Wait 20 minutes, stir, and it's ready.

A fancy way that I've been taught is to use the same ratio, but steam it. Bring the steam to boil, put rice (in an open container) inside steamer. Wait for steam to come up to temp, cover hole, and let sit 20 minutes with low heat. This is fantastic with long grain rice as - if you get the right amount of rice/ container - it ends up with the grains aligned with one another like the inner petals of a chrysanthemum.
posted by porpoise at 4:35 PM on August 31


It was also about culture and access to land. Medieval and early modern (c1750) Londoners as well as other English people ate more vegetables. But they had garden plots.
posted by jb at 4:36 PM on August 31 [1 favorite]


Just to make clear: I've studied English agricultural history, and the lack of fruit & vegetables in working class diets c1900 was not related to climate at all. You may not be able to grow oranges or pomegranates in Britain, but you could (and still can) grow apples, peaches and plums - as well as carrots, peas (famously), cucumbers, turnips and greens of all sorts (turnip, mustard, etc.) This is not just for the London region, but much farther north. I have family in Lincolnshire (northern England) and have walked through fields of broccoli, cauliflower and peas. I have eaten apples grown outside of my house in Cambridgeshire (also north of London, though not by much). The whole of Britain has a milder climate than North America, thanks to the gulf stream. There are palm trees in western Scotland (well above 50 north).

Currently, produce is more expensive in the UK than it is in the US. My expertise on English agriculture ends about 1800 (in the middle of the Little Ice Age, when it was colder than it would have been in 1900 or today), so I don't know all the reasons for the higher prices. I do know that the EU's Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) tends to prop up prices, as opposed to the direct subsidies of US farming policy. But it also may be just a reflection of the relative cheapness of factory food versus fresh food. Weirdly, meat didn't strike me as more expensive, no matter how fresh, and lamb was cheaper than in Canada.
posted by jb at 4:53 PM on August 31 [6 favorites]


And to take our conversation back to the actual FPP: what Jamie Oliver has been campaigning about for the last couple of decades has been the lack of fresh and healthy food in British diets, and the predominance of packaged foods.
posted by jb at 4:56 PM on August 31 [1 favorite]


For rice other than short or medium grain rice, ignore the lines and check the Zojirushi site for the correct ratio of rice to water and other settings for your specific rice cooker model.

I use a bit more water than they call for, but I don't rinse the rice, so I think it evens out.

I make egg fried rice occasionally, but I've never gotten very good at it. It's always edible, but never something I'd be willing to serve to another person. I am appreciating the links and the descriptions here of how to do it better.
posted by Dip Flash at 6:19 PM on August 31


I'm not hung up on the aiyah or the sitting pose - that's real enough. All I've been saying his canto-uncle voice sounds more HK than Malaysian, which touches on something I really don't expect ppl here to know much of.

He knows his character is a stereotype and he does not care

I think about this all the time, esp with the western gaze on ppl like me. Is it worth it? Maybe Malaysians can joke about it because at the end of the day, we know who we are. I can make a really silly Chinese accented skit because I meet and interact with regular Chinese accents all the time. Codeswitching into different accents is common to be unremarkable, in our setting. Anyway, I'm probably overthinking it, but I remember once getting a really loud laugh from a western white consultant and feeling very weird about it. Anyway in my extremely short standup period in the UK, that was what I decided I will not do. It's not for them. (And even amongst Malaysians, it actually continually tests and crosses over lines - we're in another overdue period of reckoning with how we treat each other)

Anyway, back to the rice.
posted by cendawanita at 7:33 PM on August 31 [9 favorites]


Well, it seems he isn't trying to play a Malaysian, does Uncle Rodger say he is Malaysian? So sounding more HK might be what Nigel was trying for. Watch the BBC interview link and hear he speaks with a British accent.

Racial stereotype-based mimicry tho... And I enjoy "doing" accents, though I just do British, German, French. But it's hard to draw the line between doing accents and being essentially racist. Even if he is an "accurate racist". "Did you know that at most Birthday parties in Pakistan, a monkey shows up? "
posted by Windopaene at 9:08 PM on August 31


yes, the hk dimension is the touchy one. like i said, it's a whole other can of worms, including but not limited to, anglophone chinese mocking their fellow chinese who can't lose their accents, of which Hong Kongers have this stereotype of amongst the Asian british ex-commonwealth. Singaporeans and Malaysians are very proud at how well we can adopt a transatlantic accent or even use it naturally (like me!)
posted by cendawanita at 9:12 PM on August 31


My comment about the aiyah was not about the use of it or its frequency-- I've heard plenty of aiyahs-- but that they felt a little unnatural and forced to me. Like, he's thinking about it a bit too much before he says it. Didn't feel enough like spontaneous surprise/exasperation to me. But please go ahead, bring on the aiyahs.
posted by dougfelt at 9:45 PM on August 31


We're definitely in different circles, cendawanita. =)

In my circles, the HKers who couldn't speak English well were the poseurs and the failchildren of people who got lucky and got into Canada at the right time - and mocked for that more than their locution. Kids who got a bachelors from UBC or SFU without actually becoming fluent in English and went straight back to HK for sinecure positions. But this was more of a historic thing, 2000-2010.

The rest of us speak cityCanadian
posted by porpoise at 10:56 PM on August 31


and so all canadians of HK descent speak perfect english with light inflections of non-western accents if at all? and if not, they're poseurs for wanting to speak english but never quite getting there? yeah, can see why uncle roger is funny.
posted by cendawanita at 1:22 AM on September 1


My main struggle with egg fried rice is getting the wok hot enough. Alas I have to cook with an electric stove, and it's even worse than the induction hobs Roger mocks in the videos. The best I can do is cook in a couple of smaller batches, but it's never going to compare to what can be done with a proper big ol' gas burner.

Otherwise, the basics are well covered above. Aromatics at the start, then meat if you're using it, then vegetables, then rice. Cook for a while, then make a hole in the middle and crack your egg into it. Let it cook a bit then toss it all around. Scallions at the end like Uncle Roger told you, and that's the time to add the sesame oil too, otherwise it just evaporates off. Yes MSG, no olive oil, for God's sake. Jamie Oliver's a fool for the stuff.

Also, boiling rice isn't hard. Wash. Wash again. Wash some more - seriously, get it really clean, it matters. Add water, take a bit out because you added too much, boil, simmer for a while, take off heat, leave for a while. Leave the lid on at all times. Do not touch the rice. Don't fret about cooking time, it doesn't matter that much within reason. Use a rice cooker if you like, but it's so simple I've never seen the point.
posted by Buck Alec at 9:46 AM on September 1


I would like to note that I am also very good at cooking rice
posted by ominous_paws at 2:06 PM on September 1 [3 favorites]


I prefer not to use single purpose appliances like rice cookers because I have limited space in the kitchen. Perfectly cooked rice on the stove can be done.

This is my tried and true method:

- Wash the rice in the pot (twice).
- Eye measure how high the rice sits in the pot, then fill with water until it's about the the same height over the rice as the rice itself. Use a little more or less water for wetter or drier rice.
- Cover the pot and cook over high heat for a few minutes, or just before it's about to boil – the lid will start to rattle and steam will come out. Don't let it boil over though so watch it like a hawk. This is the only time you need to watch over it.
- Turn down the heat immediately to the lowest possible setting, lift the pot up and put 2 more metal stove grates above the first one to make a stack 3 grates high and put the pot back. The point is to use even lower then the lowest heat setting by elevating the pot.
- You will smell the rice in about 10-15 minutes. Wait a minute or two then turn off the heat and let it sit for another 10 minutes. Done.
posted by slipperytoast at 6:38 PM on September 1


There are so very many ways to cook rice. Thanks, rice!
posted by aspersioncast at 6:09 AM on September 2


I prefer not to use single purpose appliances like rice cookers

You can cook other things besides rice in a rice cooker.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 7:08 AM on September 2 [1 favorite]


You can cook other things besides rice in a rice cooker.


True. Roger Ebert, the film critic used to cook all kinds of stuff in his rice cooker.
posted by w0mbat at 3:07 PM on September 2 [2 favorites]


OMG, that Ebert piece is beautiful. Thank you so much.
If you're in a hurry, throw them in and boil them. The hell with them.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 4:08 PM on September 2 [1 favorite]


On the needing day-old rice thing, I think the important change is starch retrogradation.
posted by lucidium at 3:26 PM on September 5


We've come full circle: Auntie Hersha reacts to Uncle Roger roasting Jamie Oliver
posted by toastyk at 6:55 AM on September 6


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