Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Fried Rice

The first time I made fried rice for myself, I must have been in early highschool. Home on a half day, I was hungry for something different than canned soup, mac and cheese, or the deli meat in the fridge with questionable expiration dates (it seemed to be policy in my house to ignore food after it was put in the fridge and if it wasn’t eaten in due course, hope it would just go away on it’s own). We had some leftover chinese food, some frozen peas, a log of kosher salami (expiration date: safe!), soy sauce, eggs and seasonings. From whence sprang an un-traditional fried rice concoction, but a tasty one nonetheless.

If you are looking to make something more authentic (or as authentic as Chinese restaurant style cuisine can be), you can certainly go for more Asian flavorings and vegetables: bamboo shoots, bean sprouts, bok choy, snow peas, five spice, teriyaki. But you are not limited by those flavors to say the least. The best thing about fried rice is that it’s a great vehicle for revitalizing leftovers.

For the first time ever on this blog, we have step-by-step photo instructions! I usually do not have the patience or dexterity for this, so no guaruntee that this will be a constant feature (and my apologies if some of the photos are blurry). But this is one of those dishes that when friends tell me they can’t cook, I say “Anyone can make fried rice.” The other thing anyone can make is quesadillas, but even I never had a homemade one until college, so I give people a break on that one. Once I figure out how, I will put this behemoth of a post behind a quick cut.

Here you can see the ingredients that I used all laid out. These should all be approximated based on your own leftover situation:

Fried Rice
Serves 2

1 1/2 cups leftover white rice
1 cup mixed frozen veggies, chopped (not chopped in photo)
1/4 cup red pepper, chopped
2 TBS soy sauce
1 egg
1/3 lb cooked chicken, chopped (not chopped in photo)
1/2 tsp garlic salt and other seasonings, to taste
cooking spray

In with the soy sauce I mixed other ingredients that are often used in Asian-flavored dishes, such as seasame oil, rice wine vinegar, dry white sherry or rice wine, and ginger. This is entirely arbitrary. While I would recommend using soy sauce, you could easily replace it with teriyaki, stock, even barbecue sauce (though that would be quite adventurous). I would recommend some sort of liquid to prevent the rice from totally drying out and to give the rice a more concentrated flavor.

Have all of these ingredients ready to go mise-en-place style. It’ll make the process go a lot faster.

1) Heat a non-stick skillet over medium heat. Spray with cooking spray.

2) Add chopped veggies to the skillet and cook until tender (about 5 minutes if your veggies are totally frozen).

3) Add leftover rice to skillet and toss to combine. Sauté rice for about 5 minutes, until slightly brown at the edges.

4) Add cooked chicken to the skillet. Toss to combine.

5) Add soy sauce mixture, garlic salt, and other seasings to skillet. Toss until rice is thoroughly coated. Cook for 5 minutes, allowing flavors to mingle and some of the liquid to absorb.

6) Beat the egg in a separate dish.

7) Add beaten egg to skillet. Stir immediately and constantly until egg is scrambled and cooked, about 1-2 minutes. Toss to combine.

8) Remove from heat and serve!

And this can be used with any meat, veggies, and flavors. My one rule is: have fun with it and don’t make too much work for yourself. With entirely leftovers, this can be made in 20 minutes.

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