How many times have you made too much rice, or gotten too much with your Chinese takeout, and ended up tossing the leftovers into the garbage?
You can kiss those days goodbye because, from now on, it’s fried rice for everyone.
Obviously, you could make fried rice “from scratch.” But, if you’re hankering for organic heirloom rice simmered with Himalayan spring water and Pomeranian cloud salt in a hand-tooled copper vessel over smoldering peat embers, then perhaps you should be reading something else.
Also, even though fried rice is associated with China, we can apply to it any flavor profile we want. It’s just dinner.
The rice from your leftover ordered-in Chinese is perfect, though any leftover rice will do. And really, you don’t even need rice. Any starch will work: couscous, barley, pasta, quinoa, even fried potatoes.
Next, you’ll need some additional color and flavor. The easiest thing is simply to use leftover meat — chicken, beef, pork — and/or vegetables — broccoli, cauliflower, green beans, peas, whatever. Cut everything into bite-sized pieces.
When you take this easy, precooked ingredient route, all you need do is toss everything in a little oil in a sauté pan (or wok) over high heat until it’s super-hot.
But you might want a little more flavor. Before adding any leftovers, sauté some aromatics, such as onion, garlic, carrot or celery. If you’re staying with Asian flavors, add some fresh ginger.
If you’re using fresh vegetables, approach it like a stir-fry: Long-cooking items (like carrots) go in before quick cooking items (like garlic or mushrooms). If you’re using leftovers as well, add them at the end, with the rice.
Egg is also common, scrambled or cooked into a flat omelet and cut into strips. Do this first, in the same pan, then remove it and add it back with the rice.
We’re almost done. You just need to add more flavor and possibly moisture.
First, the moisture. I keep a box of chicken broth in the fridge and add a splash to anything I’m reheating.
As for additional flavors, the world is your oystery palette. If you’re staying Asian, try a splash of soy or fish sauce or one of those other tasty condiments, such as oyster sauce, fermented black beans or chile paste. Start with a little, and taste as you go.
Or, take a different tack altogether: Go Mexican with pico de gallo or cumin, minced chipotles and cilantro. Or Indian with coconut milk, chutney and garam masala. See what we’re doing?
Good. Now, go grab your rice and start cooking.