There's no reason to wait 30 minutes for your local Chinese place to deliver when you can make fresh fried rice in 20 minutes -- and if you use frozen vegetables and precooked rice, it takes more like 10. This filling entree is fully customizable to your tastes and available ingredients.
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Rice: Mushy rice ruins this dish. If you opt to freshly cook your rice, take it off the heat when it's still slightly chewy. Leftover rice is ideal, because it's slightly dry and the grains separate easily. You can also use frozen rice or cooked, shelf-stable packages. Either white or brown rice works.
Fat: Typically fried rice is made with a neutral oil, such as canola or peanut oil, or with nutty sesame oil. Other fat options include the drippings from cooking bacon or pork, and clarified butter -- butter from which the milk fats have been removed.
Protein: Fried rice often includes scrambled egg. You may also add chicken, pork, shrimp, beef or tofu. Because this dish is cooked quickly, any protein other than egg should be cooked before it's added to the rice.
Vegetables: Carrots, peas, corn, mushrooms and broccoli all complement fried rice perfectly. Chop veggies into bite-sized pieces or dice them small. They should be at least partially cooked when combined with the rice.
Seasonings: Minced garlic, minced ginger and soy sauce are typically used to give fried rice flavor.
A wok, with its curved bottom and high sides, is the ideal pan for making fried rice. If you don't have a wok, use a large nonstick skillet. You'll also need a wooden spoon or thin rubber spatula to stir the fried rice as it cooks.
You'll need to work quickly, so prepare all your ingredients before you begin. Beat the egg -- about one per cup of rice -- and gather everything you'll need before heating your wok.
- Heat the wok or pan over high heat for 1 minute.
- Pour in the oil or fat. You'll want about 1 tablespoon of fat per cup of rice.
- Add minced garlic and ginger and cook for about 30 seconds -- long enough for them to become fragrant, but not so long that they burn.
- Add the vegetables and protein, other than the egg, and fry them for about one minute, stirring constantly.
- Pour in the rice. Stir everything together and let it cook for about one minute.
- Push the rice mixture to one side of the pan. Pour the beaten egg into the other side of the pan. Push it around until it's set up but still wet. Mix the rice mixture into the egg.
- Pour soy sauce, about 1 tablespoon per cup of rice, over the dish. Stir everything together, and let it cook 1 minute longer.
- Add additional seasonings if you wish. Top the finished rice with scallions and cilantro, and serve it hot.
You can jazz up fried rice with any number of kitchen staples. Cook diced onion along with the vegetable mixture; add cubed pineapple, or give the dish heat by finishing it with hot sauce, red pepper flakes or curry powder. Give the rice deeper flavor by drizzling fish sauce, rice vinegar and sesame oil over it along with the soy sauce.