Anyone who has to feed themselves or other people should know how to make fried rice. Better yet, fried brown rice! When times are tough, a nutritious and delicious meal from pretty much whatever is in the fridge is something that both eaters and feeders alike should have available.
The irreplaceables, “don’t start without” these things:
- A big saute pan, or a wok if you want to be distressingly authentic
- A stove top, electric or propane burner, basically a heat source
- Day old, refrigerated cooked rice, maybe a cup person (I prefer brown over white for flavor, texture, and nutrition)
- Green onions, chopped
- Safflower or Canola oil
- Soy sauce, I prefer the low-sodium variety
- Toasted sesame oil
- Optional necessity: one egg per person, or two eggs for three people
With this equipment and provisions, you are ready to turn out a basic fried rice. Heat the pan to medium low, add a very short turn of cooking oil. While the pan is heating up, break the egg(s) into a small bowl, add a few drops of water, and whip until smooth and slightly frothy. When the pan is up to medium low, swirl the oil around and add the egg mixture. Cook gently, folding as the egg solidifies, until cooked just barely firm. Slide the cooked egg onto a plate to hold and cut into 1/2” or smaller pieces. Increase heat to medium high, let pan heat up. When fully hot, add a generous turn of cooking oil, swirl to coat. When the surface of the oil is rippling, add the rice and chopped green onions, toss to mix and coat with oil (if too dry, add another turn of cooking oil), spread evenly over bottom of pan, and leave it be for a minute or so. Toss and turn the rice and green onions, spread evenly and cook for another minute. Add a good splash per diner of soy sauce and several drops of toasted sesame oil. Toss to coat, heat until the whole thing is highly fragrant of cooking rice and green onions. Take off the heat, add chopped scrambled egg, toss to combine, and serve.
Not a basic fried rice, this evening’s dinner includes all that plus onions, celery, carrots, peas, zuchinni, bacon, and shrimp. This was just nothing but insanely good. There were no leftovers.
Additional ingredients should be fried individually or in combinations of 2-3 compatible ingredients, then held on a plate to the side, adding to the rice at the end with the scrambled egg.
Vegetables: carrot, celery, onion, peas, garlic, shredded napa cabbage, zuchinni, mushrooms, etc x 100. If using frozen peas, thaw them and don’t cook, the heat of the rice at the end will warm them. Cook before the egg until about 80% done, then hold until the end.
Meat: Any kind of meat, really. Do not overcook! I pre-fry the meat after the vegetables, but before the egg. I love a bacon and shrimp combo. Smoked sausage and chicken is nice. Seafood particularly must not be overcooked. Once the green onion and rice is cooking, I wait until they are almost ready for the other ingredients being held aside on a plate, then add the seafood and toss with the ride. When the seafood is just about ready then add the other ingredients. This take a little practice, but once you get it right, it’s magic.
As long as you don’t overdo (over-cook, over-oil, over-soy&sesame) you can adjust once everything is in the pan together at the end.
This is one of the most economical meals I know of, you can feed as big a group of people as your biggest saute pan will support. And if you have a group bigger than that, you can make this in batches and hold in the oven at 160 degrees or so. Any time you cook rice, just double up the amount and save half in the refrigerator for later. Keep green onions and an egg on hand, and you’ll never be more than 15 minutes away from a satisfying meal. Enjoy!