I might have mentioned that we’ve had a lot of company this summer. Like, a lot. And while we both love entertaining and cooking for a crowd (seriously, we’re so, so nerdy about it), it can be quite draining. So now that summer’s over and we’re back on our own, all we seem to be craving are the simplest, easiest, quickest things we can come up with. I mean quick like a sliced tomato sprinkled with Maldon salt and topped with a basil leaf. Or a slice of bread topped with mango chutney and melted cheddar. That kind of quick.
Though for some unfathomable reason, Matt frowns on my I’m-too-tired-to-even-care dinner, which is frozen peas eaten directly out of the bag. See, it’s genius because they defrost as you chew them. Oddly enough, Matt made that same exact face when he caught me in the… act.
Anyway, for those of you who I haven’t traumatized, I’m going to tell you something shocking. Are you ready? If you have some cold, leftover rice in your fridge, you are seconds away from a delicious, healthy dinner. That’s right. Seconds. Okay, minutes, but making fried rice is still crazy quick.
And once you know the method, this homemade version will be so much better than the greasy, soggy kind that you get free with your Chinese take-out.
So while you’re digging in the fridge for the leftover rice, you might as well see if there’s anything else you can throw in. I bet there is. A bit of leftover chicken baked with lemon and garlic? Perfect! Some grilled tofu? Nice. Crispy Pork belly? GTFO! Really, you could use pretty much any leftovers you have but, to be honest, you don’t even need them. Even a bare-bones version with just peas and eggs is delicious.
- The number one tip for good fried rice is that the rice should be cold. Leftover rice from the day before is best but even a couple of hours in the fridge would work.
- Use medium or long-grain white or brown rice. Short-grain rice (like sushi rice) tends to get mushy and stick together.
- Two to three cups should be enough to feed two. Break up any large clumps and separate the grains with wet fingers.
- Use the largest pan you have and don’t crowd it with ingredients. Getting the pan really hot and using just enough oil will ensure the ingredients won’t stick.
- Broccoli, mushrooms, Napa cabbage and bean sprouts are fantastic additions. Add the vegetables, chopped into bite-sized pieces, in order of how long they will take to cook. Bean sprouts can be added at the end with the scallions.
- I’m not a fan of the texture of frozen carrots but feel free to use them if you like.
- This version is meant to be lightly sauced (and not too dark) so I usually serve a little hoisin and sriracha on the side.
Simple and Delicious Fried Rice
- 6 cups cold cooked rice, (leftover from the day before or refrigerated for at least 2 hours)
- 2 tablespoons canola or other neutral oil
- 3 cloves garlic minced
- 2 teaspoons ginger grated (about a 1 inch piece)
- 1 medium onion coarsely chopped (about 1/2 cup)
- 1 medium carrot finely chopped
- 1 cup chopped pre-cooked or leftover chicken pork, shrimp, Chinese sausage or tofu (optional)
- 3/4 cup frozen peas defrosted
- 5 medium scallions sliced thin (about 1/2 cup)
- Kosher salt
- Black pepper
- 3 eggs beaten lightly
- 1/4 cup oyster sauce* for veg and vegan version, use sweet soy or hoisin
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce
- 1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
- Toasted sesame seeds (for garnish)
- Sliced chili like Jalapeño, (for garnish)
- In small bowl combine oyster sauce, sesame oil and soy sauce; set aside. If using Chinese sausage or any raw meat or shrimp, cook it first in a little bit of oil. Once it’s just cooked through, remove it and set aside. If using pre-cooked leftovers, just chop them into bite-sized pieces and set-aside.
- Break up large clumps of rice and separate the grains with your fingers.
- Preheat a 14-inch wok or 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat for about 1 minute. Add 1 tablespoon of the the oil and heat until it starts to shimmer. Add onion and carrots and cook until tender, about 4-5 minutes. Add the garlic and ginger and cook until fragrant, 1-2 minutes. Add the meat or tofu (if using) and the peas, followed by the rice, stirring and tossing between each addition. Break up any clumps with a spoon. Cook until the rice is hot and starting to crisp a bit, 3-4 minutes.
- Push all the ingredients to the sides of the pan, making a circle in the middle and add the rest of the oil and the eggs. Scramble until they are just cooked through but not dry, about 1 1/2 to 2 minutes. Stir to combine with the rest of the ingredients.
- Add the sauces, scallions and salt and pepper to taste. Divide among plates and garnish with sesame seeds and sliced chili, if using. Serve immediately.