There is something so alluring about a big bowl of fried rice.
Even though I grew up eating steamed white rice and some kind of stir fry at least five nights a week growing up, I tend to avoid white rice these days. Everything changes when that white rice is fried in oil, dusted with MSG, and speckled with a few greasy peas, carrots, glistening shrimp and egg chunks.
That is, it becomes super unhealthy and close to irresistible.
Blah blah blah I’m in love with fried rice. But making it at home is never the same–it’s always blander and it just doesn’t have that greasy yummy OOMPH that restaurant fried rice does. Perhaps this is because I’ve always been scared of cooking with garlic (when I accidentally eat a chunk, my breath smells FOR. DAYS. Too much? Sorry.)
I finally conquered my fear of cooking with garlic, so strong was my desire to eat some tasty fried rice at home. I fried the smashed cloves in oil so that the nutty brown flavor would suffuse the rice, but left them whole so that I could spot the garlic a mile away (and avoid eating it). This definitely isn’t as slippery-oily as restaurant fried rice is, but it’s packed with flavor.
I would go so far as to recommend it if you’re feeling a little lazy, have some convenient leftover brown rice, and want a little comfort food made a little healthier with only a teaspoon or two of oil and brown rice.
Do you have any healthified (or not) restaurant-inspired dishes you make at home?
If you want slightly wetter fried rice, I would add even another egg to this. You can barely taste the egg as is–it’s mostly just a binder for the rice. If you, unlike me, are not scared of garlic, you could add another clove or two of garlic. I’m pretty sure everyone knows how to make fried rice, but what I’m listing below is just a general guideline of how I did it. And I was pretty happy.
I consider peas and carrots essential to fried rice, but if you don’t like them, leave them out. I like the imitation crab sticks you can find at Asian markets, but you can use any kind of protein you like–double up on the tofu or soy crumbles or fish or whatever. I think tiny broccoli florets would be a great addition, as would some fresh basil. Or sauteed eggplant. Okay, let’s not let me get carried away here.
Easy Fried Rice
Serves: a lot. Maybe 4.
2 garlic cloves
2 cups brown rice, cooked (preferably a day old)
1/2 cup chopped carrots
1/5 block tofu (about 1/2 cup), diced into small cubes
4 imitation crab sticks, chopped into chunks
1/2 cup peas (I used frozen)
2 eggs, beaten
hoisin sauce (optional)
oyster or black bean sauce (optional)
sesame or canola oil
salt and pepper
Heat about a teaspoon of oil in a medium frying pan or wok over medium high heat. Once hot, add the garlic and cook for 3-4 minutes until golden and nutty smelling. Add the carrots and saute for 3 minutes, or until slightly softened and a tiny bit browned on the edges. You can add another teaspoon of oil here if you want. Add tofu and crab sticks and saute another 3-4 minutes. If using frozen peas, add during the last minute of cooking the crab, tofu, carrot and garlic mixture.
While vegetables are cooking, beat the eggs and season with salt and pepper. Once the vegetables are slightly softened and browned, remove everything from heat and set aside. Add the brown rice to the pan with a little water and let steam for two or so minutes until warmed through. Stir in the vegetables. Dump the beaten egg over the rice mixture and quickly stir so that the egg cooks throughout the rice.
At this point, I spontaneously added a dab of hoisin sauce and black bean sauce because I had them, but those are not must-haves. Finish with salt and pepper to taste and EAT!
Looking for other easy and healthy dinners (WHAT? That’s what pancakes are for!)? You might also like: