Monday, March 11, 2013

Meatless Monday Fried Rice. Or Maybe Not Meatless. You Decide.

Basic Vegetarian Fried Rice

Our last class of the academic year is coming up on Tuesday. We are doing home interpretations of take-out Chinese. Two of the recipes have already appeared on the blog: Chinese-Style Minced Meat Lettuce Wraps and Mu Shu Tofu.

The third recipe is an old stand-by: Fried Rice. It's a great way to use up leftover rice, either rice you made at home or extra from your last take-out buy. It's important to use cold rice. Freshly made rice is too sticky and the rice will clump together.

This can be vegetarian if you like. Or not. Another great way to use up some diced cooked chicken, thawed teeny cocktail shrimp or some leftover pork. Fried rice is a recipe that can take a lot of improvisation.

The fried rice at some Chinese restaurants is quite dark, suggesting they use a lot of soy sauce to flavor it up. This isn't true. The color comes from a browning agent like Kitchen Bouquet or Chinese Brown Gravy Sauce. In this recipe, we add a small bit of soy sauce for seasoning and then use table salt to add the salt, so the rice isn't very brown.

But speaking of brown rice, you can use cooked cold brown rice in place of white rice. Delicious change of pace.

"Make it Your Way" Fried Rice
(serves 4 as an entree, 8 as a side dish, costs $1.60 with 4 eggs, no optional ingredients)

If serving this as an entree, use 4 eggs. If serving as a side dish, use 2.

3 Tablespoons vegetable oil
2 - 4 eggs, lightly beaten
¼ cup diced cooked chicken, shrimp, or pork (optional)
4 cups cold cooked rice
2 teaspoons soy sauce
1 teaspoon curry powder (optional)
½ teaspoon salt
¼ cup thawed frozen peas (optional)
2 scallions, minced

Heat 2 Tablespoons of the oil in a large skillet over high heat. Add the eggs and scramble. Remove the scrambled eggs to a clean bowl. Add remaining tablespoon oil and add meat, if using. Reduce heat to medium, add rice, and stir fry until rice is soft and heated through. Add scrambled eggs, soy sauce, curry powder (if using), and salt. Toss to mix well. Add peas and scallions, give it one last toss, and serve.

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