HOW I MADE THE ZAKU FRIED RICE - A STEP BY STEP GUIDE
Xin Chao everybody! It’s your boy, the Gunpla CHEEEEF! And OOOOOOH Boi! It’s been a while since our last blog post. That is because my camera man Tom and I have been working on a series of fried rice videos called the “12 Days of Fried Rice” for our Youtube channel. In this series, we cook a new recipe every day for 12 days using fried rice as the basis, a concept that we hope to later apply to other themes as well. Our goal in making these recipes is to make sure that every recipe's quality surpasses the previous ones before it. And that statement is as true as ever with our final recipe on the 12th day as we want to finish off the series with a bang. We want to make sure that it is completely unique from all the previous day’s videos as well as showcasing our love for Gunpla in addition to cooking.
So, we came up with Zaku Fried Rice, a delicious dish resembling the head of, you guessed it, a Zaku. And to be specific, Char’s Zaku II . And if you don't know what a Zaku is, then you must have thought that this website is BBC Good Food and clicked on it by mistake. It’s ok, we all make happy little accidents from time to time. But I digress. Anyway, back to the topic at hand. We have already released the video about said fried rice simultaneously along with this blog post (hopefully). If you have yet to have seen it, go ahead and check it out here:
We tried a style of video creation that was completely new to us, so we hope that our hard work in making it truly shows. We understand that some people might want to try making their own versions of this art piece, and we decided that a simple video showcasing a shortened version of the whole process simply isn’t enough. So, in this blog post, we will provide a detailed recipe and instructions for everyone to use as reference. So, let us dig ourselves in the world of Gunpla bui- I mean Fried Rice Building!
Read Time: 9-10 minutes
To make it easier for everyone to follow along, we have organized the steps into the following phases:
In each phase, there will be detailed ingredient listing and straight forward instruction using still frames we took from the video in the interest to be as direct and saving as much time as possible (and not because we totally forgot to take separate pictures of them).
We will also give our thoughts and share our experience working on this dish at the end of the recipe. We hope that this recipe will be successful enough so that can continue making more similar ones. After all, there are so many different colors of Zaku head we could use for reference for future recipes. My particular favorite is the Blue Zaku...Oh wait, it’s a Gouf. That’s no Zaku, boy, no Zaku!!!! So if you guys are interested in supporting us and want to see more recipes such as this in the future, make sure to subscribe to our Youtube channel. And with that being said, let's start with our cooking.
PREPPING THE INGREDIENTS
As with all fried rice dishes, before we start cooking them, we need to prep our ingredients in advance. You will be needing:
- Few cloves of Garlic
- 2 Shallots
- Half an Onion
- Ketchup, Sweet and Sour sauce, Sriracha
- 4 Hot Dog sausages
- 1 big Carrot
Give them a good old “Chop into small pieces” technique. For the garlic, you want to use a very sharp knife (or in our case, a hobby knife) to make it as thin as possible. While garlic breath is often frowned upon, it is not as unappealing as having garlic pieces stuck in your teeth. We will also be cutting some leeks as well. Once all of these have been cut, you can set them aside and start working on the next ingredient, THE SAUSAGE.
Or to be specific, hot dog. You want to cut off the top and bottom and then divide each individual hot dog in halves. The size does not need to be specific. These will be used to create the tubing for the Zaku’s head later. For a portion serving 2 people, you will need around 4 hot dogs. Set them aside on a plate after you are done.
Next we move on to creating the sauce that will be used to mix with our fried rice to give it the signature Char’s Zaku red. We will be dubbing this sauce the Zaku Red Custom Paint. Into a glass jar, we will pour in equal ratios of Ketchup, Sriracha and Sweet and Sour sauce. Give everything a mix and blend them together. Taste to make sure that the spiciness level is not overwhelming. For people who cannot handle spicy foods, just using ketchup on its own is fine but make sure not to use too much because ketchup by itself is acidic in nature and will give a strange tangy taste to your fried rice if you use too much.
Finally, we move on to the carving of the Zaku’s Commander Antenna. This part is entirely optional for people who just want to make a simple Zaku head Fried Rice but since we are creating the Char’s Zaku version, we will want to have the iconic antenna being the center piece. Start off by peeling your carrot to make sure there is no dirt and grime on it. Black spots on carrots are unattractive and we do not want to have them on our antenna. Next, using a big knife, we want to split our carrot into halves, vertically. With one of the carrot halves we will cut out the round parts, leaving only angular edges. Now using our hobby knife or small and sharp kitchen knife, we want to trace the shape of the commander antenna on our carrot and begin to slowly carve them out. Be very diligent and do not rush this step.
Another tool that can be used is a scriber ( a tool which is used for adding panel lines to model kits). Their curved-tip blades prove to be very useful to carve out extra details. Try experimenting with various sizes, shapes and methods for the most unique looking Commander Antenna. Since you have a bag of carrots, you have plenty of tries in making the shape perfect and then choosing your favorite among them. While it is not much, we believe that getting the antenna to look as good as possible will enhance the final look of the dish.
The last thing we need to prep is our leftover rice. If you already have some handy, then we can move on to the cooking but if not, here is a quick run down:
- Add 2 cups of Jasmine rice in a rice cooker pan.
- Next, thoroughly wash and rinse the rice using water. Pour the unclean water away and then add in a new batch of fresh water.
- To measure you can use the tip of your finger: If the first knuckle of your finger is submerged in the water, then that should be enough water. If you want to do it the boringly calculated Westerner way, then it’s rought a 1,05:1 ratio of water to rice.
- Cook everything in a rice cooker for 30 mins, if you don’t have the rice cooker, go buy one.
- Once it is cooked, store it in a bowl/ container and put it in the fridge for 12 to 24 hours. Doing this way guarantees the best possible left-over rice for fried rice, both in texture and taste. If you are in a hurry, you can start cooking after the rice has chilled for 6 hours.
And with that, all of our prepping is done, it’s time to move on to our next phase.
COOKING THE FRIED RICE
Before we proceed, here are the ingredient that you will need for this part:
- The chopped onion, shallot, garlic and mushroom and chopped leeks from previous step
- A bag of mixed vegetable (ideally to have peas, corn and paprika)
- Bacon bits
- Leftover Jasmine rice
- 1 Tbsp of Lao Gan Ma chili oil (or Sambal Oelek)
- 1 Tbsp of Soy Sauce
- 1Tbsp of Oyster Sauce
- 1 Tbsp of Sesame Oil
- 2 Teaspoons of MSG
- Zaku Red Custom Paint sauce (check previous step)
- A sprinkle of Black Pepper
Starting off with some HOT and MOIST vegetable oil (alternatively, you can also use peanut oil or lard instead) inside the pan, we add in our chopped onion, shallot, garlic and mushroom. Fry until the ingredients are caramelized with a soft texture, brown-ish color and fragrant aroma.
Then, you want to add 1 tbsp of Lao Gan Ma chilli oil into the pan for the extra heat. This amount won’t be burning in your mouth but in case you want to retain flavour and make a less spicy meal, you can use Sambal Oelek instead.
Our dish lacks a bit of meat and color, so we will be adding in some bacon bits and mixed vegetables. We want to keep everything simple. You can, of course, use other types of meat and other ingredients as well if you want. Fry them for 1 minute (make sure to stir frequently) before adding in the leftover rice. Using the spatula, you want to push the rice into the side of the pan as you keep mixing it with the other ingredients. This particular mixing motion is used mainly to produce the best possible fried rice texture.
Add in the seasoning consisting of soy sauce, oyster sauce, sesame oil and our Zaku Red Custom Paint. Do not forget the 2 tsp of MSG or you will break our heart. Mix everything well together with the rice. Finally, add in a sprinkle of black pepper and the chopped leeks. Pour the finished rice into a medium size rice bowl and set aside.
THE SCRAMBLED EGGS BASE
Now that we have the “body” of our Zaku’s head, we will work on the “base” which it will rest upon. We decided to cook some Chinese-style scrambled eggs for this part but if you are fancy you can use anything you want, for example, a big plate of caviar or even a Pizza (don’t sue me if you end up getting stomach problems though). For the step you will be needing these ingredients:
- 3 Eggs
- 2 Tsp of Salt,
- 2 Tsp White pepper
- 2 Tsp of MSG
- 1 and ½ Tsp of Sugar
- Half a Tbsp of Sesame Oil
- ½ Tbsp Shao Xing Wine
- ¼ Cup of Water mixed with Cornstarch
Start by cracking 3 eggs into a bowl. Add in the dry seasoning consisting of salt, white pepper (black pepper is also fine), 2 Tsp of MSG as always, and sugar. Then follow it up with the wet seasoning of sesame oil, Shao Xing wine (can be replaced with other cooking wine or white wine) and a quarter cup of cornstarch slurry (water mixed with cornstarch). Mix everything with an egg mixer until it is smooth
If you are wondering what these 2 tigers are, feel free to check out my Anima Gear review video
In a medium heat pan, pour in the egg mix and let it simmer. Do not try to mix it too hard otherwise it will break apart, instead you want to fold it in carefully and create layers. After it is done, you can transfer it into the plate and set aside.
COOKING MORE ZAKU’S HEAD PART
With the “body” and “base” completed, we are almost at the end of our recipe. In this part we will be doing the cooking for the rest of the part we need to assemble the Zaku’s head.
For the “tubing”, we will boil and cook our cut hot dog sausages for 10 minute until they firm up and change color. Set them aside on a plate with a paper towel to absorb the liquid. Optionally, once they are dry, you can give them a stir fry with some ketchup or grill them to add more flavour.
For the “antenna”, we will fry our carved carrot pieces. Remember that carrots, like other vegetables, will lose their firmness when fried so we do not want to overcook them in this step. You can also just ignore this step and use the raw carved carrot piece, we just prefer our ingredient to be cooked.
For the black area of the “visor”, we will cut some thin Japanese nori seaweed into rectangle strips.
Once everything is cooked and prepared, we will begin with our final phase.
Start setting up the base by bringing in the plate with the scrambled eggs and set it into the middle of the cutting board.
Next, we will flip our rice bowl over and place it on top of the eggs and slowly remove the bowl. Be careful when lifting it up from the plate, as you don’t want any of its shape to be ruined. This will create a perfectly shaped foundation for our Zaku’s head.
Then we will set the cooked hot dog pieces around the head but not in a full circle, as you try to make them resemble the tubing. Using the extra leftover fried rice from the pan, put on your cooking gloves and start shaping out the Zaku’s mouthpiece and tubing container at the front and back of the head.
On the top of the “head”, carve out a small hole in the middle and insert the “antenna” in. You can fortify it more by adding more fried rice to the area around the carrot to keep it in place.
Finally to make the “visor”, we will place the cut strips of Nori into the middle of the head, and maybe some smaller ones to the left and right of it for more accuracy. Draw in the “monoeye” by making a circle in the middle of the nori strip using ketchup.
AND PRESTO. Congratulations, we have ourselves a perfectly cooked Zaku Fried Rice.
OUR THOUGHT AND CLOSING STATEMENT
Out of all the things I’ve covered so far in our channel and in the blog posts we’ve created, we think that this is our absolute best creation. That’s how proud we were of creating this dish. While my greatest passion will always be Gunpla building, I may have found myself a new interest in making Gundam inspired food art for the future. And hopefully you have as well.
Unlike the other fried rice videos that we did (which we foolishly did under a few weeks' deadline instead of months in advance), we took our time in creating this dish and the video surrounding it. It was a labor of love for us personally, and we know we are repeating ourselves here, but we just can’t express how proud we are of what we accomplished. We sincerely hope that you have that same feeling after creating this dish. Anyway, next time, to serve as a companion piece to this blog post, I will be reviewing the HG The Origin Char’s Zaku II, the Model kit that inspired creating this dish in the first place (of which I also tease plenty in my video).
But until then, like always, we hope you all have a nice day, build yourself some model kit, cook yourself this Zaku Fried Rice to pair it up with and we will see you all, NEXT TIME!