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Chinese Recipes
Chinese 24 Hour Rice, Left-over Rice or Chow Fan, Dong Fan
What to do with left-over rice is a problem for many people all over the world. Several TV chefs including the excellent Martin Yan "Quick and Easy" have come up with great recipes for creating tasty meals from this left-over.

Below we give our home-made versions of this easy dish:

Let me tell you a secret:
1. Chow Fan is stir-fryed cooked rice
2. Chow Min (pronounced chow mein) is stir-fryed cooked noodles

In Canton Chow Mein is supplemented by many additional ingredients, as we know it is the west. It is usually cooked fresh to order, where you specify the combination of main ingredients.

Chow Fan is seldom ever made from freshly cooked rice, unless as a special side dish to a banquet where foreigners will be present. Normally it is made to use up the left-over rice, and should be cooked within 24-hours.

1 lb cooked rice
2 eggs
1 tablespoon soy sauce or fish sauce
1 tablespoon oil
2 cups water

Cantonese chefs simply heat the oil and add the cold rice to a hot wok. Add a little water to prevent sticking and stir continuously through the whole cooking process.

Image: Chow Fan or 24 hour rice - Click to Enlarge
Once the rice is slightly browned add the two eggs and mix well in. Expect some to stick to the bottom of the wok and burn, so stir to remove this before it is truly burnt. Once the eggs are settled you have a rice goo. Add several shakes of fish oil sauce and mix well in. Leave to stand for a minute, mix again and serve.

Chinese love this as a plain and filling accompaniment to many meals. I prefer to cook this as follows:

1. Unless you are cooking shellfish (excluding prawns) as you main feature, forget about the fish oil sauce and use a quality Soy Sauce.

Recipe 1 - Jonno's 24-hour rice or Chow Fan

Main Ingredients almost as above:
1 lb cooked rice, 2 eggs, 1 tbsp soy sauce, 3 tbsp oil, water if required

To this Add:
* 1 wardrobe (Bulb) of garlic, half crushed and diced, half whole and peeled.
* 3 inches of fresh ginger - this is a large piece of wet ginger that is peeled and finely diced into matchstalk slivers. If it is properly 'wet' crush it first before dicing. The total bulk should be about the same as the garlic.
* Salt and pepper. This dish seriously needs added salt, especially if the original rice cooking was done simply with only rice and water (Default).
* 3 or 4 spring onions (Scallions) diced into small pieces.
* 1 large white onion. Peel and dice into quarter inch squares.

Add a little oil to a very hot wok and swill around to coat once hot. Add the ginger, garlic and flash-fry for less than 1-minute. Tip in the cooked (Boiled) rice and mix well without overworking. This means you leave it for 10 seconds, turn it, and leave it again, and again.

Once your rice has taken on the oil and flavours (2-minutes) add all the onions - we are combining the different properties of both white and spring onions here. 1-minute of very gentle turning and leaving should finish this part.

Take one egg and break into a well you have made in the centre of the wok. It should still have oil in it, so add more oil and heat if not. Cantonese chefs can drizzle the egg into the mix from the shell, but if you end up with a whole egg in the wok, this is fine too. Wait until the white starts to become solid, and gently stir this to make ribbons. If the timing and heat is correct, these ribbons should follow your chopsticks or fork. Once around break the yolk if not already broached, and do likewise, but slower. We are looking for small lumps of cooked yolk to complement the strands of egg white. This is quite difficult at first, so take your time.

Once accomplished, very gently stir into the mixture, and repeat with the other egg. Cantonese do both eggs at once, but this gets tricky!

Now it is time to add the soy sauce, which will bring a salty taste to the dish.Chug in several large dashes from the bottle, and mix very gently. Add more as required and when satisfied, taste the dish!

You are now adding refined table salt (Cooking is too quick for sea-salt unless in a brine) and finely ground black pepper. Add the pepper first, and then the salt, which fixes the final base flavour.

You now have the basic dish ready for serving to table.

However, it is not yet a meal in itself, as for this we need to add other ingredients like meat, vegetables or anything else you can think of!

My Choice
I personally love to add: Prawns, diced mushrooms, colours of assorted capsicum peppers, and a little freshly chopped hot chilli right at the end. Small cubes of processed pork are excellent, the meat available in packets in any supermarket. Thin strips of chicken meat also works very well. Add these ingredients around the same time you add the eggs.

To be honest, I actually make this as a British 'Stir-Fry', which essentially means I replace half the rice with standard yellow thin wheat noodles - like the ones that you get in a 'snack-pot', whatever.

I also like to add a good handful of beansprouts and a few cooked, diced water chestnuts.

Vegetarians and Vegans
You can make this vegetarian and vegan by adding only vegetables and gourds. Whatever you add should be diced to pea size, and will probably need par-cooking first = not fully cooked, just beginning to soften. Given you dice before boiling, then this can be very quick.

Sweet Version
So what works? Mango is excellent, diced courgettes or Chinese marrow, broad beans or 'doa gok'. For something unusual and delicious add Chinese red dates or rose hips, and longgnun or lychee. This version will be slightly sweet, so how about adding some diced banana? Chinese sweet yams or Fan Shei will also work very well. If cooking a sweet version you may want to replace the salt and pepper with a trickle of honey - up to you! Girls will probably love a little pineapple also, as this lends towards making this dish naturally 'sweet and sour'.

We are also considering presentation to table here, so making this colourful is very good. You can always add stalwarts like sweetcorn and peas, but we are trying to redefine your culinary horizons here - so for a savoury version, let's add some diced celery rings, a few 'Butter Beans', soaked soy and/or cashew nuts, and strips of peeled Chinese black mushroom. This should be soaked overnight before chopping and represents 'meat'. To really make this Cantonese, then shell and chop one, '1-hundred-year-old' egg into pea-sized chunks and add near the end of cooking.


Any meat added should be diced into small chunks (Exceptions: small Prawns). Basically if you dice your meat to pea-size and add it after the garlic and ginger, then it is already cooked before the rice (and noodles) are put in the wok. I would add prawns later, as they need far less cooking time, especially as I am presuming you are using the pre-cooked frozen versions? Fresh ones should go in just before the eggs, and the same for squid.

Rule of thumb:

Vegetables are actually harder to cook with this dish than most meats, whilst dried fungi are another matter. Here is the 'Rule of Thumb' I use when using various meats diced into pea-sized squares or strips:

2 minutes = Red Meat: - Beef, Lamb, Goat, Donkey, Horse, Water Buffalo, Dog.
90 Seconds = Gray Meat: - Duck, Goose, Dove, Pheasant, Quail.
1 minute = White Meat: - Chicken, Pork, Cat, most Rodents.
40 Seconds = Fish and Shellfish: - Prawns, Squid, Abalone, Cockles, Eel slices, Fish (waifer slices or small chunks), Jellyfish.
20 Seconds = Snake meat (If you can find any?), most reptiles, bugs and insects. Reduce to 10 seconds for Black or Red Ants (Beijing delicacy).

Recipe 2 - Coconut Rice
This is the most simple and delicious rice anywhere!

Our presentation is to make a large dome of rice which has within and without, coconut creamed sauce. This should be enough for 4 starving people.

You can use left-over rice, or boil fresh - it doesn't matter. You can even mix the two to save wastage. Whatever way you get the rice, wait until it is cold before commencing cooking.

Open a quality tin of coconut milk and add to the wok. To this add a pinch of nutmeg, a small pinch of cinnamon, and a small pinch of Chinese Ziran powder. Mix well and heat to a very gentle simmer.

Add the rice to this warm mixture and fold gently. Bring back to a simmer and stirring occasionally, wait until the rice is heated through. As a rough guide this should take 5-minutes and then it is ready to serve.

Lightly press the rice into a mould - this can be anything that takes your fancy, such as a jelly mould, a basin or large bowl. You can make this using individual rice bowls, but a better presentation is one large dish such as a cereal or soup dish. A metal Chinese deep bowl I find ideal.

Once the rice has filled the bowl, put a serving plate in top and turn over. You may need to bang this on the counter, and be prepared to make finishing touches if any rice sticks to the bowl. Once looking good, simply pour over the remaining coconut milk from the hot wok and serve to table. Edible orchid flowers make for a truly exciting presentation.

Recipe 3 - Rice Waifers or Lang Fan

Country folk usually cook a large family wok of rice for every meal. These are heated on wood-burning stoves similar to a western 'Aga'. This is allowed to sit on the diminishing heat throughout the meal, and left to cool afterwards.

Usually any left over soft rice is used to feed the chickens, but there remains a delicious crust of burnt (Not charred) rice. This is known as 'Lang Fan', and is peeled from the wok and eaten as one would a biscuit or treat. Knowing how this originated makes it easy for us to replicate and vary in a modern kitchen.

Take a hot dry wok and simply add some left over rice. Half a pound should be a good place to start. Add a little water and repeat as necessary, mixing well in until a the rice glutenises and becomes slightly stodgy. We are aiming to create a slight paste with clearly separate rice grains - not turn this into a goo!

Spread this around the wok so that it is 1/4 inch deep. The true abilities of the wok now present themselves, as you can tip to bring the heat source to points all around the sides of the wok. Use a medium heat and leave in each spot for about 1-minute. Work around the wok resting 8 times until all the sides have been cooked. Don't forget the base also, although this is probably already well cooked.

Check progress by prizing away the cooked rice from the wok sides. If it has a golden brown colour then it is cooked and will separate easily. Do not force areas that are undercooked - simply return that area to the heat and leave for a while.

Eventually you will end up with one side nicely cooked and floating free in the wok. Gently pat down the surface and turn over to cook the other side. Repeat the process, but know it will not take as long. Once the second side is golden brown the dish is ready to be served.


Like me you may find this to be rather bland? It definitely needs salt for a savoury version, or sugar for a sweet one. Also remember that you can add virtually anything to the original rice, and you can use other liquids instead of water.

What happens if you use a standard Cantonese chicken bouillon stock instead? You will end up with rice-cakes tasting of chicken of course! Therefore add a little salt and pepper, plus some very finely diced vegetables, or chicken, or both. You will end up with 'Crispy chicken Rice Cakes'.

I doubt the above would be a great hit with most people, so what happens if we use finely diced nuts instead? This would never be for me personally, but I do know many people love nuts. For this I would add a little nutmeg and mix all the ingredients well in.

This dish is perfect for making a sweet alternative. This time you need to dilute the honey with a little water to make it more fluid. You can use Chinese Honey Sticks or sugar just as easily, but honey works far better.

Add the thinned honey liquid to the rice and mix well in, carefully. We are using this instead of the water as in the main method given above. This time you will need to coat the wok with a smear of oil to prevent sticking - just like greasing a baking tin. The honey will make the rice burn quicker once hot, so be careful the first time you try this at home.

This time when you turn the rice over, you will probably need to re-grease the wok and I recommend you also brush the uncooked side with a little of the liquid honey mixture, as this will have sunk on the first cooking. When the second side is cooked to golden brown it is ready to be served.

1. Chop a little honey stick very finely and sprinkle over the mixture when searing the first side. A coarse granulated sugar will work equally as well, but small sugar crystals are the best!

2. Use mango juice instead of honey, and finely dice some mango or mixed fruit into the rice.

Rice Cakes

To bring this unusual and long section to a close, let's look at our options for using two sheets of Lang Fan cooked on one side only; or half cooked on the inner side. The idea is to use one as a base, add some filling, then put the other on top. Cut this into bars and serve to hungry and unsuspecting guests!

Everything mentioned above works great when served in this style, and it gives the chef an opportunity to present a true savoury or fruit theme.

Generally Lang Fan works best with 'sweet and fruity'.
This information is as supplied by ourselves, and ably supported by our friends and various internet portals.
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