I’ve always loved fried rice. Back when I was in elementary school, my mom would take my sister and I to the local mall for back-to-school shopping. Rivaling the enticement of new clothes however, was the prospect of eating at the food court for lunch. Bright eyed I’d carefully pick out my meal. Despite my feigned serious consideration, I’d always order sweet and sour pork with fried rice. I was in heaven!
Now I eat fried rice on a near weekly basis but I enjoy it as much as ever. It’s such a quick meal to put together and utterly satisfying. Each week the recipe changes based on what I have in the fridge and what sounds exciting. I usually add some sort of salty, crispy meat and an assortment of colorful fresh vegetables.
As I mentioned, fried rice is a very quick dish to make. 30 minutes tops (20 minutes if you’re quick at chopping). But…you need cold, leftover rice. I wish it worked well with fresh rice, but every time I attempt that shortcut I end up with a mushy mess. So I’ve just adopted a habit of always adding extra rice to the rice cooker for fried rice later in the week. Then dinner the next night will come together in a flash.
Ready for the recipe?
To start, you’ll need to cut up some meat into small pieces. Sausage, bacon, tofu (the other meat?), and ground beef all work marvelously. Strangely I had some hot dogs in the fridge. I blame Dirk. But they make some pretty tasty fried rice.
If you’re using ground beef I recommend seasoning it with plenty of salt and pepper. Salty morsels of meat make for delicious fried rice.
Another vegetarian option besides tofu is peanuts or cashews (check out my Indian Fried Rice).
Now chop up some veggies. As few or as many as you’d like. Just make sure you chop them up into a fine dice (~ 1/4 inch) so they’ll cook quickly.
I used a couple carrots…
…and some onion (about 1/4 of a large onion).
Red onion also works nicely in fried rice. As with any vegetables, onions are optional.
Now that we’ve got our meat and vegetables chopped up it’s time to grab out your wok. If you don’t have a wok you could use a large skillet (preferably nonstick or cast iron).
Heat wok over medium-high heat and add 1 tablespoon oil.
Peanut oil, coconut oil, canola oil, or bacon grease all work well. Especially bacon grease. Obviously.
Let the meat cook for 1 minute to allow it to brown slightly.
If you’re using cashews or peanuts skip this first step and add them with the vegetables.
Now add in your chopped vegetables. The key is to a good fried rice is to keep the pan hot. You’ll need to stir the vegetables around occasionally, but don’t be afraid to let them sit for a minute and brown. Browned bits = flavor.
Let the vegetables and meat sizzle for about 3 minutes before the next step.
Now push the vegetables to the side of the wok and grab out your leftover rice.
If there is no excess oil in the pan, drizzle in another tablespoon.
Crumble the leftover rice into the empty half of the pan. And wait.
Let everything sizzle for 1 minute before mixing.
After that minute, go ahead and mix everything together. Let cook for 5-10 minutes mixing once per minute.
Over stirring does not a tasty fried rice make.
While you’re twiddling your thumbs trying not to stir the rice, go ahead and chop up some green onions (aka scallions). I used four because that was the number I had on hand. If you don’t have any green onions, your fried rice will still be delicious. Don’t worry so much.
Now that you’ve patiently fried the rice, add in your scallions.
Whisk two eggs together in a small bowl.
I like two.
Push the fried rice to the side and slowly pour in the eggs to the side. Let sit for a minute or until the eggs are partially cooked.
Flip the eggs over to finish cooking. Some rice may cling to them in the process. That’s normal.
Once it’s finished cooking, vigorously chop the egg into small pieces with your stirring utensil. A spatula works quite well.
Go ahead and mix everything together.
At this point feel free to add any frozen vegetables that you’d like to (green peas or frozen spinach work nicely). I added some frozen spinach.
Let it cook a couple more minutes or until the frozen vegetables are…no longer frozen.
The final step is to add 1/2 tsp ground black pepper (or white pepper), 1 tablespoon dark (toasted) sesame oil, and 1/2 tablespoon soy sauce. I usually add a dash of salt as well. Take off the heat and serve. It’s important to add the sesame oil at the end because it loses it’s flavor when heated too high.
I hope you enjoy the recipe and make it your own!
Everyday Fried Rice
(serves 2 as a main, 4-6 as a side dish)
3 sausages (or bacon, ground beef, tofu etc.)
1 tablespoon oil* (canola/peanut/coconut etc.)
assorted vegetables, finely diced (I used 1/4 onion, 2 carrots, 1 cup frozen spinach)
4 scallions, sliced (optional)
2-3 cups cold leftover rice
1/2 tsp ground pepper
1 tbsp dark sesame oil
1/2 tbsp soy sauce
Heat oil in wok over medium high heat. Add meat. Let saute for 1 minute. Add finely chopped vegetables (except frozen vegetables). Let saute 3 minutes. Push vegetables to the side and crumble in cold rice. Let cook for 5-10 minutes, stirring only occasionally. Add scallions and push everything to the side of the pan. Whisk two eggs in small bowl and add to pan. Let sit until mostly cooked, then flip and finish cooking. Break up the cooked egg into small pieces and mix everything together. Add in frozen vegetables and cook until heated. Add pepper, sesame oil, and soy sauce. Stir, take off heat, and serve.
*you may need more oil if you’re using a lean meat/tofu
What are your favorite ingredients to use in fried rice?