Monday, 12 July 2010

Vegetable Fried Rice

Fried rice is a standard quick meal around here. What I do is cook twice as much rice as we will eat at one meal. We have the freshly cooked rice one day with a stir-fry, and the next day the leftover rice makes fried rice. Very quick and easy. I'm giving quite a list of vegetables that could go into your fried rice; don't use them all! Or you will have fried vegetables with a wee bit of rice, which just isn't the same thing. The rice I made here had peas, zucchini, onions and carrots, which was a good, well-balanced blend. In general I recommend using one of the alliums, a carrot, celery if you can get it, and 2 of the other vegetables for best balance.

It's important to use rice that was cooked properly with the correct amount of water, and which has aged overnight in the fridge to make fried rice. Otherwise your rice is likely to be too damp and soft, and you will have mushy fried rice no matter how long you cook it. Good fried rice has every grain of rice separate and just a tad chewy. It's amazing to me how many packages of rice call for too much water. You'd think people would know how to cook their own product, but no. Sushi style short grain rices may take as little as a cup and quarter of water to a cup of rice. Other white rices may use as much as a cup and two-thirds to a cup of rice. Most rices will be somewhere in the middle. Brown rice is almost always two to one. If your rice was too soft and you still want to use it for fried rice, spread it out on a plate to store it in the fridge overnight and let it dry out as much as you can before using it.

I have to say, it's hard to describe how to do this even though it is so simple. Don't get too hung up on getting it perfect; the veggies do have a little lee-way in their cooking times and as long as you don't cook them for a crazy amount of time they will be fine.

2 servings
20 minutes prep time, not including cooking or aging the rice

Vegetable Fried Rice
Prepare 3 to 5 of the Vegetables Listed:
1 medium onion
1 medium leek
2 to 4 green onions
1 medium zucchini
2 cups shelled peas
2 cups diced green or wax beans
2 cups finely chopped broccoli or cauliflower
1 medium carrot
2 cups fresh corn kernels
1 stalk celery
1 small sweet pepper
1 or 2 cups mushrooms

Don't use them all! Pick one allium, a carrot, and 2 or 3 other vegetables. They should be washed, peeled and cut in fairly small dice as appropriate. Peas and corn arrive in the right size; other vegetables should be chopped to be about the same size. Keep each vegetable separate until you are cooking; it will be important to add them to the pan in the right order to have them all properly cooked at once.

Optional Additions:
2 to 3 eggs
150 grams (1/4 pound) bacon or sausage

If you want to add eggs to your fried rice, have them lightly beaten in a small bowl ready to go. If you want bacon, sausage (or ham, etc) have it cut in fairly small pieces before you start.

Cook these first, and remove them from the pan. The eggs should be cooked in a little oil to prevent sticking, and they should still be quite wet when you remove them from the pan back to the bowl the eggs were beaten in. Bacon or sausage should be fairly well cooked and nicely browned, but it too should be remove from the pan and wait to be re-added at the end of the cooking. You can use the fat that cooks out of them to continue cooking the vegetables and rice if you like; remove a bit if there is too much.

Make the Fried Rice:
2 tablespoons mild vegetable oil, or fat from the bacon or sausage if using
3 cups cooked rice, cold and dry (from about 1 cup raw rice)
2 to 3 tablespoons soy sauce or tamari
1 to 3 cloves of garlic (optional)
2 tablespoons oyster sauce

Heat the pan and sauté the onion or leek, if using, and carrot until soft and lightly browned. (Green onions are better added later.) Keep adding vegetables according to their cooking time. If they need a little water to help them cook (such as peas, corn, beans, broccoli or cauliflower) add a few tablespoons of water to the pan with them, and cook, stirring constantly, until the water evaporates and the vegetables are on the way to being cooked.

On the other hand, be careful with things like zucchini or mushrooms, which tend to give off a lot of liquid. Cook them fast and hot, so that their juices cook off as quickly as possible, and don't remove them from the pan until they are essentially dry. It may be best to cook them on their own, and remove them before cooking the other vegetables.

Once all the vegetables have been added to the pan and are cooked but still bright and crunchy, remove them from the pan.

You may need to add a little more oil to the pan if you think the rice will stick. Once that's done, add the rice. I find it easiest to wet my hand with cold water and crumble it in by hand. Wetting the hand helps keeps the amount of rice that sticks to it down to a dull roar. Once all the rice is in, use a spatula to turn it and break it up in the pan. Sprinkle it with the soy sauce, and once that is absorbed add the garlic. Mix it in well, cook for a minute or two, then add everything back in that's waiting - eggs, meat, veggies; whatever. Add the oyster sauce and mix it in well. By now everything should be hot through, well-blended and the rice should be showing the odd brown spot. You're ready! Dish it up.

Last year at this time I made Berry Fluff. This year at this time, strawberries are over. Still, this would be very good with raspberries or blueberries.


Melynda said...

I make fried rice the same way. I love having cooked rice ready to go. I like your ratio of veggies however. Thanks.

Rice Palette said...

Always love fried rice!! Great recipe.

Joanne said...

I absolutely love a good fried rice. It's so nice to have a good base recipe!