Luscious fried rice can be an object of obsession, yet finding a crazy-good one can be a weirdly challenging pursuit.

Luscious fried rice can be an object of obsession, yet finding a crazy-good one can be a weirdly challenging pursuit.

2011 File Photo

I have a food obsession that just won't quit: a craving for crazy-good fried rice. 

Luscious and rich with soft bits of scrambled egg, chewy morsels of barbecue pork, tender scallion greens, all kinds of umami – that's the fried rice of my dreams.  The scrambled egg is key (and please don't let it be overcooked). Sometimes it has duck instead of pork, or maybe crab. Or Chinese sausage. Sometimes it's topped with a poached or sunny-side up egg. Maybe it involves bean sprouts, or peas, or touches of Chinese greens. Maybe not; I'm open to just about anything. I'm not doctrinaire.

Great fried rice could be lurking anywhere: A Chinese barbecue place, a Vietnamese family spot, a snazzy modern American dining room.  Wok hei: the breath of the wok, that hard-to-pin-down amazingness that a super hot wok gives what touches it, may well be in play.

Ah, look – there's fried rice on the menu: must order it. 

It's nearly always good, even when it comes from the least ambitious Chinese take-out window. Sometimes it's really good.  

Rarely is it crazy-good. And so I keep ordering. Now and then, I hit the jackpot. Maybe you will, too.

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