If you need a fast, easy meal idea that your family will cheer for with wild abandon you need to learn how to make fried rice. And it IS an art. To be truthful, even mastering fried rice at home cannot replicate the stuff you get at your favorite restaurant. I could give you all sorts of information, ingredients, and such for why the restaurant stuff tastes so much better. But, I won't. You can make your own guesses as to why. I WILL say that you can get very, very close to the restaurant stuff. And the best part is you can do it quickly, easily, and using the best ingredients for your family.
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The unsung hero in homemade fried rice is LEFTOVER rice. Truly. Make a double batch the next time you make rice and save the extra rice for this busy weekday meal. It is absolutely better to use leftover than fresh, anyways.
All that matters is that you can make your own version ALMOST as good as the real stuff anytime your heart desires. On a busy weeknight, fried rice is a great supper choice. Stuff as many veggies as your family will handle, use brown rice if you can get away with it, and be sure to choose low-sodium soy sauce to keep this dish as healthy as possible. Sadly, don't skip on the butter. It really is the heart of all good fried rice.
How to make fried rice like a pro:
Use cold rice.
Always. Leftover rice is a great opportunity for a batch of fried rice. Otherwise, simply make up a batch of rice early in the day and pop it in the fridge. I often use minute rice...it works and is fast.
Use long-grain rice.
The shorter rices (like sushi rice) tend to get soft and stick together. I like to use jasmine rice because it's longer and fries up nicely. Whatever you use...long is best. But hey, use what you have!
Butter is the way to crispy, tasty fried rice. You can give oil an attempt (if you do, choose a nut oil for best results) but you will return to butter as the best.
Big enough pan.
Grab the biggest, most giant pan you own. If you crowd that rice it won't brown and get lovely. Use a giant pan. Or two. That works as well.
Be careful about moisture.
Science says that wet stuff doesn't fry, it just heats, that's why you want to watch that the extras you put in your rice don't add lots of moisture.
You'll need to stir a few times, but resist the desire to stir often. Let the rice sit and brown properly.
Sesame or Peanut oil.
Giving your finished rice a splash of [easyazon_link identifier="B000QV5M24" locale="US"]sesame[/easyazon_link] or [easyazon_link identifier="B00B2POCVK" locale="US"]peanut oil[/easyazon_link] IS worth it. It really does make a difference.
This Bacon Fried Rice from Cheap Recipe Blog is a great example of the endless options for fried rice!
Make an extra breast or two the next time you make chicken, cut it up, and freeze it for such a time as fried rice.
Fried rice is a great way to use frozen veggies, that extra stalk of celery, or the carrots that haven't gotten eaten. Use them in fried rice!
An egg scrambled up in the pan before adding the rice is a fantastic addition.
I pile on the veggies and meat so that I can serve up only fried rice and not feel that I am depriving my family. "Here you go fam, all four food groups in one dish!"
Before you start the fried rice fry up some pot stickers (I purchase mine, but they are fast and easy to make) and then place them in the oven to keep warm while you finish up the rice.
Go ahead and purchase them if needed. Otherwise, coleslaw mix and egg roll wrappers are all you need to make a quick egg roll. Roll the coleslaw in the wrapper and fry for about 4 minutes in oil.
Buy them or make your own with wanton wrappers, cream cheese, green onions, and crab. These are an easy treat to make before you start your rice and keep warm in the oven while you fry the rice.
Sweet and Sour Chicken.
Chunked chicken breast and your favorite sweet and sour sauce are all you need to serve this up. Mix your chicken with sweet and sour sauce in a tablespoon or so of oil in a hot pan (med-high heat). Cook up until the chicken is cooked through. Top with green onions and sprinkle a bit of sesame seeds on top.
Simple Egg Fried Rice
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 2 cups cooked white rice chilled
- ½ cup soy sauce
- 1 package frozen peas and carrots
- 2 eggs
- Heat vegetable oil in a large non-stick skillet over medium heat.
- Add chilled white rice and soy sauce, stir and combine.
- Add peas and carrots, stir to combine. Cook for 10 minutes, stirring often.
- Whisk the eggs and pour over rice mixture.
- Stir and saute until the eggs are cooked.