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Yangzhou Fried Rice


John Rosevear
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I've been making a perfectly presentable fried rice for years -- eggs, scallions, a little soy sauce or Maggi or both, whatever's in the back of the fridge, hot wok, serve. It's a staple.

But right now, I want to make Yangzhou fried rice with the texture and flavor one finds at good (US/UK) restaurants. (Not the brown stuff.)

Sounds simple, right? But my attempts so far have been less than stellar. There are clearly nuances I'm missing.

I've got char siu (or will tomorrow -- it's in marinade). I have cold cooked rice, eggs, scallions, shrimp, peas, assorted other vegetables, and the usual sauces and aromatics. Perhaps most importantly, I have a propane-fired wok burner, a well-seasoned wok, and passable technique.

Aside from "small pieces, hot wok, work fast", how should I proceed? Salt? Wine? Neutral oil, bacon grease, something else? Add egg(s) when and how?

John Rosevear

"Brown food tastes better." - Chris Schlesinger

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But right now, I want to make Yangzhou fried rice with the texture and flavor one finds at good (US/UK) restaurants. (Not the brown stuff.)

My advice:

Don't use Fresh garlic

Don't use Oyster sauce

Don't use Shallots

Don't use Bean sprouts

:smile:

how should I proceed? Salt? Wine? Neutral oil, bacon grease, something else? Add egg(s) when and how?

My advice:

Cook the shrimp first. Remove.

Eggs - be beaten in a bowl. A little bit of oil in a hot wok... pour in the beaten eggs... stir fast. Cook the eggs a little bit fluffy.

You may remove the eggs and add them back to the fried rice later on. Or... at the restaurants... the cook would add the cooked steamed rice while the eggs are still in the wok. Stir fry until the rice is hot. Add all other ingredients (shrimp, chopped char siu, scallions, peas, etc.. (Not sure what your "assorted vegetables are". The Hong Kong style Yangzhou Fried Rice doesn't contain much vegetable. Diced cooked carrots yes.) Dash in the light soy sauce near the end.

Advice: no salt, no wine. MSG if you like.

Edited by hzrt8w (log)
W.K. Leung ("Ah Leung") aka "hzrt8w"
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I think peanut oil is best. If not, corn oil is okay. Or vegetable oil. Or canola or others.

Someone commented on the "brown stuff" thread to use sesame oil. It seems to be an Americanized version of Chinese food. They squirt sesame oil on everything. It seems as if sesame oil is synonymous to Chinese food. Some food show hosts especially. When they feel like making Chinese food, they would be obligated to squeeze in some sesame oil at the end.

W.K. Leung ("Ah Leung") aka "hzrt8w"
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My advice:

Don't use Fresh garlic

Don't use Oyster sauce

Don't use Shallots

Don't use Bean sprouts

:smile:

Not a chance. (Not sesame oil, either.)

I wasn't planning on using a lot of vegetables, actually. The best version I've had recently (in Boston) had peas, scallions, and finely diced Chinese celery. I'll try carrots.

Light peanut oil seems like the way to go, and I won't skimp. No salt, really? I could try a pinch of MSG, though that seems like cheating. Thanks!

John Rosevear

"Brown food tastes better." - Chris Schlesinger

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I don't see a problem with a bit of salt unless you have strict requirements for health issues. The problem with veg. is moisture. You don't want too much otherwise you get soggy fried rice.

I've seen recipes where the beaten egg is stirred in at the end so that "each grain" is coated with egg. But I'm guessing most people like to see "chunks" of egg.

I think sesame oil can go quite nicely in fried rice. I think that because it is a lower volatility oil, if your add some right at the end, it can carry some nice aromas - it should enhance the shrimp at the very least.

Best Wishes,

Chee Fai.

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Most versions here in China also have chopped cheap sausage meat. Think Spam!

Peanut oil or lard.Can't think of any reason not to use fresh garlic, but certainly no oyster sauce.

Certainly slightly undercook the egg separately and add just before serving unless you like rubber. Peanut oil or lard.

...your dancing child with his Chinese suit.

 

The Kitchen Scale Manifesto

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The recommendation for no salt is because:

1) you are already using light soy sauce, which is salty. If you use salt, need to adjust the amount so the fried rice will not be overly salty.

2) most ingredients for the fried rice are dry. There is no moisture to dissolve the salt. Salt will likely remain in grain form and scattered in the rice. (So is the MSG actually)

Reason for cooking the eggs first or separately:

- if you add beaten eggs to the rice already cooking in the wok, the rice will soak up the water content of the eggs before they turn cooked. Result would be lumps of rice. Good fried rice is fluffy. Individual rice grains are separated, and not lumped together.

- eggs will not turn dead hard as you pour the cooked steamed rice in the wok. After that time the rice would take up most of the heat.

Vegetables:

- the issue is with cooking time and like CFT said: water moisture. Vegetable takes longer to cook than frying rice. If you want vegetables... advice is to cook them (undercooked slightly) separately and toss them in at the last minute.

Sesame oil:

- sure you can add sesame oil or any other ingredients to please yourself. It's a matter of whether you want to be faithful to the recipe/style. (And "Yeung Chow" fried rice is just a Cantonese's rendition of a non-Cantonese style anyway. LOL) :smile::smile:

W.K. Leung ("Ah Leung") aka "hzrt8w"
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Folks, i cooked some fried rice tonight on the first day of my eG Foodblog. Little did I know you were discussing here! I'd like to echo that good fried rice needs nothing wet other than oil, eggs and soy. Though I'm partial to a little fresh garlic and ginger with mine. Oh and am I the only one who mixes the raw eggs with the cooked rice first?

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You probably are the only one, Prawn :wink:

I've been known to leave out the egg while cooking, and just add it into a depression in a plate of fresh hot fried rice, mix quickly, and have "wat chow fan".

I always thought Yangzhou fried rice had Chinese sauage?

Dejah

www.hillmanweb.com

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It seems everyone has their own version! I was just checking out a Youtube Epicurious episode for this fried rice. I've never had it with oyster sauce, but this made by Chef Shirley Cheng of the Culinary Institute of America used oyster sauce. It also had fresh mushrooms, ham, peas and scallions. I'd think that oyster sauce would be too heavy and strong for this dish because it has so many other flavours - char sui or lap cheong, and the milder shrimp. I don't even add soy sauce, but in the restaurant, we added a tiny splash of light soy only because my Canadian customers rhink colour is beautiful - NOT brown, just beige. :hmmm:

Dejah

www.hillmanweb.com

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In our restaurants a long time ago, no one makes yeungchow fried rice the same twice in a row. You use whatever is at hand, as long as the procedure and main ingredients are relatively similar in each production. Rice, egg, char siu, (or other bits of meat), green peas and carrot bits (right out of the freezer bag), chopped onions, scallions, seasonings (no oyster sauce) AND (drums please) a small handful of bean sprouts mixed in at the very end. It's the colours, momma, and the textures. Also, a bit of garlic never hurts.

It seems that I have broken every caveat someone listed.

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I think Yangzhou fried rice is like Mapo Dofu--one of those classic Chinese dishes that everyone has their own version of. I like a little sesame oil on my fried rice and I mix a little water in with the eggs so they don't turn too rubbery. Instead of salt, soy sauce, and msg I sprinkle a little of the chicken boullion powder (gasp!) they sell in all the Chinese markets.

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I sprinkle a little of the chicken boullion powder (gasp!) they sell in all the Chinese markets.

I keep a tin of that powder on my stove by the wok. Knorr. In a perfect world, I'd have a pot of actual stock going that I could just ladle in.

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Now wait... wait... wait...

Are we still in a quest for specifically, as named in the title, YangZhou Fried Rice? I assume this is referring to the YangZhou ("Yeung Chow" in Cantonese) fried rice as known to be served in Hong Kong or Hong Kong style restaurants.

Sure when you cook your own meal, you can do anything you want.

Chinese sausage, vegetables, mushroom, ham, bean sprouts, oyster sauce, sesame oil, garlic or no garlic, chicken broth or chicken boullion powder. And I suppose you can cook it with chicken, fish, lamb, beef, oyster or whatever that strikes your fancy. But wouldn't you call it your own "something fried rice"?

This is the original premise from the OP:

I want to make Yangzhou fried rice with the texture and flavor one finds at good (US/UK) restaurants. (Not the brown stuff.)

So... is this still the quest?

And when have you seen Chinese sausage used in "YangZhou Fried Rice" in a restaurant?

If I make a Rueben Sandwich with chicken breast and ketchup and mayo... is it still called a Rueben Sandwich?

Edited by hzrt8w (log)
W.K. Leung ("Ah Leung") aka "hzrt8w"
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I guess we'll just have to wait for hzrt8w's next trip to Hong Kong to send us samples of the "authentic version" :wink:

I have had lapcheung in mine - in some restaurant, somewhere (Vancouver? Toronto?). I can see using lapcheung at home IF there was no char siu on hand.

"If I make a Rueben Sandwich with chicken breast and ketchup and mayo... is it still called a Rueben Sandwich?"

I think the Rueben statement is a bit too far out as comparison. The fried rice with a variation of meat (chat siu or lapcheung or Chinese ham?)at least would still have some semblance. You could still tell it is something fried rice, and COULD be Yangchow fried rice. But with chicken breast, you KNOW it's not a Rueben on sight...I hope. :raz:

Dejah

www.hillmanweb.com

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There are probably almost as many variations of Yangzhou fried rice as there are Chinese restaurants in US/UK, probably more so among the 'good' restaurants than the greasy take-outs. However, it is a good bet that the Yangzhou fried rice served in US/UK have their origins in HongKong/Guangzhou. In Cantonese restaurant banquets, it is quite commonly served as the last dish before desserts.

However, there are claims that Yangzhou fried rice originated from Yangzhou as in 扬州 in Jiangsu province, and those looking for 'authentic' may have to seek out restaurants or recipes from that part of China. Would be interesting to hear from anyone who has been there and had 'authentic' Yangzhou. In any case, as Jiangsu cuisine is in a different school of cuisine from Guangzhou, it would not be surprising that what you get in 扬州 is different from the norm in Guangzhou/HK/US/UK (or for that matter, what you get - in terms of restaurant food - in China or even HongKong is more often than not quite different from what you get in US/UK/Europe).

The point I am trying to make is that it is probably better for the OP to identify the specific textures and flavors (and ingredients) that he likes and enjoys in US/UK restaurants, and strive to attain those characteristics, rather than search for the ultimate US/UK restaurant recipe or technique for making Yangzhou fried rice at home.

For example, if you want the texture to be 'crispy' ie with each grain separated and identifiable, and also have each grain coated with egg, then obviously you do not pre-fry the egg. I would whisk the egg, and just before dishing up whatever is in the wok, create a 'well' in the wok, add the beaten egg, wait for a few seconds, and then stir like hell (and flip the contents in the wok, but only if you have mastered the technique) to get each grain covered with the egg and all the flavors of the other ingredients. The presence of egg should be barely discernible, and then only through taste or color, ie you hardly see any egg fragments - do this if thats your preference.

If you do not wish to use MSG but still wish to enhance the flavor then swirl some chicken stock - home made? - into the rice, as already suggested in earlier posts. If you prefer to use only salt and not soya sauce, then add salt before adding the chicken stock, or dissolve salt in the chicken stock before swirling it into the rice. This will address the problem that the salt may not dissolve evenly. I do not use soya sauce as I want to retain the color of each ingredient, and do not want any of those overall brownish or even light tan color over everything in the fried rice. The color of the rice grains should only be tinged with an eggy yellow, but that's my preference.

Yes, eggs and chicken stock do add moisture to the fried rice and can make it soggy. However, the trick is to prep the rice so that it is dehydrated enough that it can withstand and actually gain from the addition of eggs and stock, and be rehydrated without the rice going soggy. I call it 'twice cooked rice'. The other benefit of adding eggs and stock or some moisture is that it helps to even out the flavor of the various ingredients.

I usualy use peanut oil, for obvious reasons, but will ocassionally use home rendered pork lard... when i am trying to impress guests with my cooking prowess :-)). For flavor in fried rice, there is nothing like lard, assuming your body can take it and/or your GP will not dis-own you. The peanut oil i get here has too strong a flavor and I usually throw in some garlic while the oil is hheating up, and remove it before adding any other ingredients.

It's dangerous to eat, it's more dangerous to live.

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I'm living in Jiangsu right now, and I asked a chef acquaintance of mine for guidance earlier this evening. He said, "Garlic, ginger, scallions to start, and salt in a home wok; at the end in a restaurant wok. Rice; chopped green beans (peas too expensive); carrot if you like. Prawns optional if you have them. Egg last. No soy."

I think I could talk him into demo'ing it for me, if there were interest.

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I guess we'll just have to wait for hzrt8w's next trip to Hong Kong to send us samples of the "authentic version" :wink:

I have had lapcheung in mine - in some restaurant, somewhere (Vancouver? Toronto?). I can see using lapcheung at home IF there was no char siu on hand.

No need to wait. Here is a picture of the Yangzhou Fried Rice in Hong Kong. Circa early 2010

YangZhouFriedRice.png

In Hong Kong, it is pretty consistent just about everywhere you eat:

Shrimp, char siu, egg, green onions

W.K. Leung ("Ah Leung") aka "hzrt8w"
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I don't know, hzrt8w, I swear I can see a few drops of sesame over there in the corner of that plate...

Just for kicks I looked up Eileen Yin Fei Lo's receipe for YZ Fried Rice in her book, "The Chinese Kitchen." Here's what she puts in her "authentic" YZ Fried Rice:

shrimp

eggs

char siu

soy sauce

rice wine

salt

sugar

oyster sauce

sesame oil

white pepper

ginger

garlic

scallions

OTOH, there are people who claim YZ Fried Rice should only be seasoned with salt.

Edited by sheetz (log)
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There are probably almost as many variations of Yangzhou fried rice as there are Chinese restaurants in US/UK, probably more so among the 'good' restaurants than the greasy take-outs. However, it is a good bet that the Yangzhou fried rice served in US/UK have their origins in HongKong/Guangzhou. In Cantonese restaurant banquets, it is quite commonly served as the last dish before desserts.

However, there are claims that Yangzhou fried rice originated from Yangzhou as in 扬州 in Jiangsu province, and those looking for 'authentic' may have to seek out restaurants or recipes from that part of China. Would be interesting to hear from anyone who has been there and had 'authentic' Yangzhou. In any case, as Jiangsu cuisine is in a different school of cuisine from Guangzhou, it would not be surprising that what you get in 扬州 is different from the norm in Guangzhou/HK/US/UK (or for that matter, what you get - in terms of restaurant food - in China or even HongKong is more often than not quite different from what you get in US/UK/Europe).

This is getting sticky...

I don't know the origin of this "YangZhou Fried Rice". Did it really refer to the YangZhou in JiangSu province? Not sure. It can be a YangZhou influenced/style fried rice as made in Hong Kong. It is getting sticky when one seeks to root out the origin of a recipe.

For example there is a popular dish "Chow Gwai Dil" (= Char Kway Teow in Cantonese pronounciation) in Hong Kong. Mimicing what's popular in Malaysia/Singapore. But the Hong Kong version uses curry powder and no soy sauce. So it is a Hong Konger's rendition of a Malaysian/Singaporean dish, which has its root back from Mainland China. Which one is "authentic"?

It seems that if you order "YangZhou Fried Rice" from Chinese Diaspora - UK, US, Canada, Europe, Australia, etc., you may have many variations. Maybe anything goes, depending on the availability of ingredients on hand and the local tastes. And let alone any home cooking version of this recipe.

But I can tell you this, based on my 20+ years of dining experiences in Hong Kong. If you order a YangZhou Fried Rice in any restaurant in Hong Kong, you can pretty much come to expect... and it's been very consistent:

Shrimp, diced char siu (BBQ pork), eggs, green onions, a pinch of MSG

Fluffy, not soggy. Bouncy. Rice slightly yellow. Not dark brown. No garlic. No vegetable except maybe green peas or small diced up carrots.

Edited by hzrt8w (log)
W.K. Leung ("Ah Leung") aka "hzrt8w"
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      Green Sichuan Peppercorns
       

      Fresh Green Sichuan Peppercorns

      I strongly recommend NOT buying Sichuan peppercorns in supermarkets outside China. They lose their scent, flavour and numbing quality very rapidly. There are much better examples available on sale online. I have heard good things about The Mala Market in the USA, for example.

      I buy mine in small 30 gram / 1oz bags from a high turnover vendor. And that might last me a week. It’s better for me to restock regularly than to use stale peppercorns.

      Both red and green peppercorns are used in the preparation of flavouring oils, often labelled in English as 'Prickly Ash Oil'. 花椒油 (huā jiāo yóu) or 藤椒油 (téng jiāo yóu).
       

       
      The tree's leaves are also used in some dishes in Sichuan, but I've never seen them out of the provinces where they grow.
       
      A note on my use of ‘Sichuan’ rather than ‘Szechuan’.
       
      If you ever find yourself in Sichuan, don’t refer to the place as ‘Szechuan’. No one will have any idea what you mean!

      ‘Szechuan’ is the almost prehistoric transliteration of 四川, using the long discredited Wade-Giles romanization system. Thomas Wade was a British diplomat who spoke fluent Mandarin and Cantonese. After retiring as a diplomat, he was elected to the post of professor of Chinese at Cambridge University, becoming the first to hold that post. He had, however, no training in theoretical linguistics. Herbert Giles was his replacement. He (also a diplomat rather than an academic) completed a romanization system begun by Wade. This became popular in the late 19th century, mainly, I suggest, because there was no other!

      Unfortunately, both seem to have been a little hard of hearing. I wish I had a dollar for every time I’ve been asked why the Chinese changed the name of their capital from Peking to Beijing. In fact, the name didn’t change at all. It had always been pronounced with /b/ rather than /p/ and /ʤ/ rather than /k/. The only thing which changed was the writing system.

      In 1958, China adopted Pinyin as the standard romanization, not to help dumb foreigners like me, but to help lower China’s historically high illiteracy rate. It worked very well indeed, Today, it is used in primary schools and in some shop or road signs etc., although street signs seldom, if ever, include the necessary tone markers without which it isn't very helpful.
       

      A local shopping mall. The correct pinyin (with tone markers) is 'dōng dū bǎi huò'.
       
      But pinyin's main use today is as the most popular input system for writing Chinese characters on computers and cell-phones. I use it in this way every day, as do most people. It is simpler and more accurate than older romanizations. I learned it in one afternoon.  I doubt anyone could have done that with Wade-Giles.
       
      Pinyin has been recognised for over 30 years as the official romanization by the International Standards Organization (ISO), the United Nations and, believe it or not, The United States of America, along with many others. Despite this recognition, old romanizations linger on, especially in America. Very few people in China know any other than pinyin. 四川 is  'sì chuān' in pinyin.
    • By liuzhou
      An eG member recently asked me by private message about mushrooms in China, so I thought I'd share some information here.

      This is what available in the markets and supermarkets in the winter months - i.e now. I'll update as the year goes by.
       
      FRESH FUNGI
       
      December sees the arrival of what most westerners deem to be the standard mushroom – the button mushroom (小蘑菇 xiǎo mó gū). Unlike in the west where they are available year round, here they only appear when in season, which is now. The season is relatively short, so I get stuck in.
       

       
      The standard mushroom for the locals is the one known in the west by its Japanese name, shiitake. They are available year round in the dried form, but for much of the year as fresh mushrooms. Known in Chinese as 香菇 (xiāng gū), which literally means “tasty mushroom”, these meaty babies are used in many dishes ranging from stir fries to hot pots.
       

       
      Second most common are the many varieties of oyster mushroom. The name comes from the majority of the species’ supposed resemblance to oysters, but as we are about to see the resemblance ain’t necessarily so.
       

       
      The picture above is of the common oyster mushroom, but the local shops aren’t common, so they have a couple of other similar but different varieties.
       
      Pleurotus geesteranus, 秀珍菇 (xiù zhēn gū) (below) are a particularly delicate version of the oyster mushroom family and usually used in soups and hot pots.
       

       
      凤尾菇 (fèng wěi gū), literally “Phoenix tail mushroom”, is a more robust, meaty variety which is more suitable for stir frying.
       

       
      Another member of the pleurotus family bears little resemblance to its cousins and even less to an oyster. This is pleurotus eryngii, known variously as king oyster mushroom, king trumpet mushroom or French horn mushroom or, in Chinese 杏鲍菇 (xìng bào gū). It is considerably larger and has little flavour or aroma when raw. When cooked, it develops typical mushroom flavours. This is one for longer cooking in hot pots or stews.
       

       
      One of my favourites, certainly for appearance are the clusters of shimeji mushrooms. Sometimes known in English as “brown beech mushrooms’ and in Chinese as 真姬菇 zhēn jī gū or 玉皇菇 yù huáng gū, these mushrooms should not be eaten raw as they have an unpleasantly bitter taste. This, however, largely disappears when they are cooked. They are used in stir fries and with seafood. Also, they can be used in soups and stews. When cooked alone, shimeji mushrooms can be sautéed whole, including the stem or stalk. There is also a white variety which is sometimes called 白玉 菇 bái yù gū.
       

       

       
      Next up we have the needle mushrooms. Known in Japanese as enoki, these are tiny headed, long stemmed mushrooms which come in two varieties – gold (金針菇 jīn zhēn gū) and silver (银针菇 yín zhēn gū)). They are very delicate, both in appearance and taste, and are usually added to hot pots.
       

       

       
      Then we have these fellows – tea tree mushrooms (茶树菇 chá shù gū). These I like. They take a bit of cooking as the stems are quite tough, so they are mainly used in stews and soups. But their meaty texture and distinct taste is excellent. These are also available dried.
       

       
      Then there are the delightfully named 鸡腿菇 jī tuǐ gū or “chicken leg mushrooms”. These are known in English as "shaggy ink caps". Only the very young, still white mushrooms are eaten, as mature specimens have a tendency to auto-deliquesce very rapidly, turning to black ‘ink’, hence the English name.
       

       
      Not in season now, but while I’m here, let me mention a couple of other mushrooms often found in the supermarkets. First, straw mushrooms (草菇 cǎo gū). Usually only found canned in western countries, they are available here fresh in the summer months. These are another favourite – usually braised with soy sauce – delicious! When out of season, they are also available canned here.
       

       
      Then there are the curiously named Pig Stomach Mushrooms (猪肚菇 zhū dù gū, Infundibulicybe gibba. These are another favourite. They make a lovely mushroom omelette. Also, a summer find.
       

       
      And finally, not a mushroom, but certainly a fungus and available fresh is the wood ear (木耳 mù ěr). It tastes of almost nothing, but is prized in Chinese cuisine for its crunchy texture. More usually sold dried, it is available fresh in the supermarkets now.
       

       
      Please note that where I have given Chinese names, these are the names most commonly around this part of China, but many variations do exist.
       
      Coming up next - the dried varieties available.
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