Fried Rice – serves 2 (generously) or 3 (normally)
I’m well aware that the point of fried rice is use up leftovers, but I make this most often as a planned ahead-yet-super-lazy-supper. Though the days are getting longer, it’s still chilly out and we’re all craving delicious, carby, comforting foods (and even I am starting to out-noodle myself). Running to the grocery store to grab a few veggies for dinner becomes much less enticing between the coat, boots, hat, scarf, gloves, and four flights of stairs (no elevator in my building), so I need meals that I can make with ingredients I always have on hand. Not to mention that fried rice is cheap cheap cheap, and since my roommate and I have developed a little bit of an addiction to the beyond meat products, we definitely need some meals to balance out the cost of those luxuries. Just kidding.
I’ll keep this simple with my staple fridge vegetables – onion, carrot, and celery (frozen peas if you’d like), or I’ll jazz it up with whatever vegetables I have on hand; peppers, mushrooms, zucchini, eggplant, chinese broccoli, snow peas, green beans, cabbage, etc. Cooked veggies fragrant with garlic, tamari, and sesame oil, spicy from the ginger and sriracha, and crunchy from the scallions and sesame seeds… how could you go wrong?
I like to water sauté my veggies before adding in the rice and oil in order to keep this a little bit on the lighter side. The taste doesn’t suffer at all from the initial use of water, and the vegetables stay perfectly crisp. It’s just as easy to make this vegan as it is vegetarian, so I leave it to you to decide if your protein of choice is soft tofu, or eggs, just follow the instructions down below.
1 cup white rice
2 cup water
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons sesame seeds (half and half black/white if you want to be fancy)
3/4 cup water, divided
1 onion, diced
2 stick celery, diced
1 large carrot (or two small), diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
A smallish piece of ginger, peeled & minced (around 1 tablespoon)
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
3 tablespoons tamari*
1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
1-2 teaspoons maple syrup/honey/sugar
Sriracha, to taste
2 eggs or 200g soft tofu
3 scallions, chopped
*You can use soya sauce, but I prefer the taste of tamari. If you’re using soya sauce, you’ll probably want to start with 2 tablespoons, and then taste to see if you want more (it has a stronger, saltier taste than tamari).
Rinse your rice well, and then combine it with the water and salt in a medium size pan. Bring to a boil over high heat, and then reduce the heat to low, and simmer, covered, for 15 minutes or until the rice is cooked though. Fluff the rice up with a fork (never a spoon, since that encourages the clumps to stick together) and let cool, uncovered.
1. The first step to making your fried rice is to toast your sesame seeds, in a large pan (the same you’ll use to make your fried rice), over medium heat – because why would you want to dirty another pan later? And why would you use untoasted sesame seeds when toasting them (over medium heat in an oil less pan) takes just 5 minutes and brings out their nuttiness? Place into a bowl.
2. A note on tofu
If you’re using soft tofu as your protein, crumble it into a non-stick pan over medium heat. Don’t add any oil at the start since soft tofu will release a lot of liquid. Once the water has been released and evaporated, add in a little bit of vegetable oil, stir, and let this cook for a few minutes until very lightly browned. Add a splash of tamari for seasoning and set aside. You can also use hard tofu (in the photo above I used eggs and hard tofu), but it won’t add the creamy texture that soft tofu/eggs add. Pat the tofu dry, cut into cubes, and pan fry in a little oil over medium heat. Once golden, add a splash of tamari or a little salt to season.
3. Do your mise en place:
Chop your veggies and place them in a bowl. Carrots, onion, and celery, and whatever else you’d like to add. Get creative. It’s going to be delicious. Just keep in mind that if you add a lot of vegetables, you’ll probably want to make more sauce in order to season your dish properly.
Mince the garlic and ginger, and put those into another bowl together.
Mix together the tamari, vinegar, sweetener of your choice, and a squeeze of sriracha.
Chop your scallions and set them aside.
4. Get cooking!
Add the vegetables, 1/2 cup water, and a generous pinch of salt in a large pan (the one you toasted the sesame seeds in). Cook over high heat for 5 minutes, or until the water has evaporated, and the vegetables are starting to soften but still remain crispy. Now add the remaining 1/4 cup of water and the garlic and ginger and cook another two minutes, until the water is gone once more. Add the vegetable oil and rice, and stir well. Now leave this alone for a few minutes in order to let the rice get crispy. Stir the rice, and let it sit a few more minutes in order to let the bottom crisp up once more before mixing in the sauce.
5. Protein baby (and scallions).
If you’re using soft tofu, it should already be cooked, so add it now. If you’re using eggs, push the rice to the side of the pan, leaving a space to crack the eggs in. Break the yolks, and then don’t touch them for around 15 seconds, letting them start to cook. Now mix the runny mixture with your spatula, add the scallions to the pan, and toss everything together. The heat of the rice will cook the eggs through perfectly and will wilt the scallions, removing their oniony bite. Remove from the heat.
With a drizzle of sesame oil for fragrance, and lots of toasted sesame seeds. I like to stir half of the sesame seeds into the fried rice and leave the rest for sprinkling on top of individual bowls. Taste to see if it needs a little more salt, spice, sweetness, or acidity, and adjust to your liking… this should be pretty darn tasty though. Enjoy immensely.
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