fried rice

Fried Rice, A Leftover Recipe

For many Americans, it may be shocking to discover that the fried rice we spend good money on is, historically, a way to utilize leftover rice.   The real irony is that the “house special fried rice”, the most expensive version of fried rice,  on so many restaurants menus is actually similar to what I make for my family when I clean out the refrigerator.  My husband calls this “kitchen floor fried rice” because we put all the little odds and ends that are laying around into it.  He claims that I  sweep all the scraps up off the floor and toss them into the wok.  This reference to the floor has, on occasion, dissuaded my children’s friends from partaking of this simple and delicious dish, and that’s just fine.  It leaves more for us.

Fried Rice must be made from leftover rice, not fresh rice.  Leftover rice that has been stored in the refrigerator for a day or two is dryer.  If you use fresh rice, you run the risk of your fried rice turning out mushy or gooey or both.  Because this dish is such a great way to utilize leftovers, I always make sure I cook too much rice when I am making rice as a side dish for another meal, so I will have leftover rice to use in a few days to make fried rice.     When I mention leftover rice, I am not talking about rice-a-roni.  I am referring to plain white or brown rice that has been cooked with minimal seasonings.

As I write this, there is a pint container packed full of white rice in my refrigerator, as well as some bits and pieces of steak, chicken, and a few leftover veggies.  (I try to avoid strong flavored vegetables like broccoli, but have used corn, peas, carrots, green beans, and even lima beans and black eyed peas in my fried rice. )  If there are not suitable vegetables leftover in the refrigerator, you can always thaw about 1/2 cup of frozen mixed vegetables or peas and carrots in some hot water to add to the recipe at the appropriate time.  Just drain them well before adding them to the fried rice.IMG_1675

Here’s the Recipe:

1 – 2 tablespoons of oil

1/4 to 1/2 cup chopped onion

1 clove garlic minced

Small piece of ginger, minced (If you don’t have fresh ginger, mix 1/2 teaspoon dried, powdered ginger into the  soy sauce until the ginger is dissolved and there are no clumps)

2 to 4 cups leftover cooked rice

2 – 4 tablespoons soy sauce (You may find that you want more.  You can always add more soy sauce when you serve it, but it’s really hard to fix it if you add too much and make the whole dish too salty.).

1 – 2 dashes of sesame oil (optional)

1/4 to 1/2 cup leftover meat, cut into small pieces.  (If you have no leftover meat, I have cut ups slices of lunch meat into small squares.  Today, I have 4 strips of beef that I chopped into squares, about 1/4 cup of chicken meat that is chopped into small pieces, and a handful of salad shrimp that got overlooked in the freezer.)

1/2 to 1 cup leftover vegetables.  (Try to avoid  vegetables like broccoli or beets.  Broccoli might over power the flavor of the fried rice, and the beets with make everything turn magenta which, in my opinion, wouldn’t look very appealing.  If you don’t have leftover vegetables, you can use frozen peas and carrots or frozen mixed vegetables or chop up some carrots and celery and add it in the beginning with the onion and garlic.  If you use frozen vegetables, they should be thawed before being added to the fried rice.  I usually do this by putting the desired amount of vegetables in a bowl and covering them with boiling water.  I drain them well before they are added to the rice.)

1 – 2 eggs

2 to 4 green onions, sliced in 1/4 inch slices

Heat oil in wok or deep skillet on high heat.  Add chopped onion, garlic, and fresh ginger (if using).  Stir and cook until onions are translucent.  Stir constantly to prevent garlic from burning.  Burnt garlic is bitter.  Bitter = Bad.   After onions are ready, add the rice to the skillet and stir, constantly, breaking up clumps and ensuring that all  of the rice has an opportunity to spend some time on the bottom of the pan,  When all of the kernels appear to be separated, and they are beginning to “fry,” add soy sauce and sesame oil and mix rapidly to incorporate them into the rice.

Next, add the pieces of meat and vegetables and continue to stir and toss in wok until they are heated through.  When everything is ready, push the rice to the side of the pan.  Break the egg(s) into a bowl and scramble well.  Pour a small amount of oil onto the exposed surface of your wok or skillet.  Pour the eggs onto the oil and mix until they are cooked.  Once eggs are finished, break them into small pieces with your spatula and mix them into the rice.  Mix in sliced green onions and remove from heat.

*This recipe is very versatile.  If you don’t have ginger or powdered ginger, no problem.  Leave it out.   Don’t have meat, or don’t eat meat, no problem.  You can have your fried rice with eggs only, or you can stir in cashews or pistachios.  Personally, I love cashew fried rice.  Earlier this week, I made fried rice for a friend who is allergic to eggs, so I just left them out.  The recipe even works without the addition of sesame oil.

Give it a try and leave a comment to  let me know how you like it.

Thank you for visiting.


3 thoughts on “Fried Rice, A Leftover Recipe

  1. Cashew Fried Rice – I’m going to try it. I love cashews. I have a brown rice recipe that I’m about to adapt. Maybe I’ll try the cashews with it, too. Sounds great!

  2. In the philippine household where I grew up, we made fried rice once a week. Our fried rice didn’t have all the bells and whistles of other asian recipes. We usually just focus on the garlic, rice and soy sauce.

    The garlic is sliced or minced (but not finely minced). But you do have to cook it first and until it turns golden. Then add the rice. Then add soy sauce. (just a note on the soy sauce, try to use a soy sauce that is not a result of wheat fermentation – like Kikkoman.

    We cook our rice to an almost crisp. I say almost because it is a wonderful combination of crisp in some places and still soft and moist in others.

  3. That sounds so good. I have friends from the Philippines who make simple fried rice like that but always with egg. On the opposite end of the spectrum are my indian friends who start with garlic, onion, toasted cumin seed and black mustard seed, in the beginning and keep adding more flavors as they go.. Their fried rice has many more diverse flavors. It’s interesting how different countries make similar dishes but with very diverse flavors. This talk about food is making me hungry now. I must go make fried rice….which recipe should I use?

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