FRIED rice has always been a staple in my family.
It was something that could be whipped up in a flash to satisfy any empty stomach.
As an introduction to traditional Chinese cooking, my mother suggested I start with this simple, yet tasty, dish.
The beauty of fried rice is that it is very adaptable and, as I quickly found out, can be prepared by home cooks of all levels.
While many people enjoy fried rice as a side dish accompanying a vegetable stir-fry, or a meat dish such as sweet and sour pork, it can be served as a main meal.
Fried rice originated in China as a method of using up leftover rice, meat, seafood, vegetables, mushrooms and spices.
In China, there are many variations of the dish.
The famous Yang Chow fried rice contains prawns and barbecued pork, Yuan Yang fried rice is topped with white sauce on one half and red sauce on the other, while Fukien fried rice is complemented with a seafood sauce.
I cooked a version of fried rice typically eaten in Shanghai consisting of prawns, egg, barbecue pork and cucumber.
What I loved about making this dish was that there were no precise measurements or finicky ingredients to fuss over.
After the egg, meat and vegetables were cooked separately, all you had to do was combine all the elements and make a few adjustments to the flavour by adding more oyster sauce or a pinch of salt.
Those who like their food spicy can add extra garlic or chilli.
Meat alternatives include barbecue pork, Chinese sausage, bacon rashers or ham, or seafood such as octopus and fish fillets can also be used.