Another one of those multi-purpose side dishes. Vegetable fried rice. Is it even a side dish? I know I’d be perfectly happy eating this for dinner as is. But I must admit – I really like it when served with spicy chicken strips, swimming in a sweet & sour sauce with just a hint of fish sauce and sesame oil.
I’ve Americanized. No, I really have. Not only do I love volume cooking but I even bought one of those big side by side fridges. With an ice machine. It’s so ‘undutch’. But it does allow me to freeze lots of food. That way I always have access to home made meals in the blink of an eye. Once a month I’ll do some precooking and fill up many of the 10.000 cheap freezer/microwave proof containers I’ve bought. This is one of those dishes that freezes very well. How easy does it get? I also do this with many other things.
You can quickly whip this up with some leftover rice, but when you actually steam/boil rice for this purpose, keep in mind that one of the key things to making a good fried rice dish is to make sure your rice is properly steamed yet dry. Mushy rice is not gonna be any good for this dish.
Optional: scrambled egg
I didn’t give quantities because it really depends on how much rice you use, how much vegetables you like and how many people you’ll have to serve. Use whatever you have left in your fridge and play with the ingredients. You can also add ginger strips or chili pepper. Another winner is bean sprouts that you’ve dropped in a little boiling water for 30 seconds to get rid of the bitter flavor. The sky is the limit. This was a dish for two, so I used minimum amounts.
I went for 2 cups rice, 2 cups water (way too much for two people, but I’ll freeze half). General rule of thumb is 1 cup rice, 2 cups water. I’m not general so I’ve used 1 cup rice, 1 cup water. Well, I wasn’t merely being rebellious, I wanted the rice to be a tad dryer and crispier. I’ve also added some turmeric. It won’t add much flavor but it will give the rice a beautifully deep, yellow color. Don’t add too much salt, though, you’ll use soy sauce later on.
Took out my steamer for this one -it came with a special rice tray- but you can also boil rice on the stove top or in a special rice steamer. Just go about things as you normally would.
Pretty huh? The steam broke the focus somewhat, but I’m sure you’ll forgive me for that little photographic flaw! Right? Please?
I like a bright yellow color, so I always use 1/2 tsp turmeric on 2 cups of rice. It just looks so cheerful and summery. But feel free to tone it down a little (or leave it out all together) and use 1/4 to 1/8 tsp in stead. I won’t hold it against you, I think.
It’s best to cut the vegetables in fairly thin strips so they’ll be done quickly, yet still have a bite to them. As for the peas, I usually put them in a bowl of hot water and that’s all I do to them. You can blanch them if you want, I just never do. They actually taste best when still a bit raw.
Heat up 1 or 2 tbsp oil. I went for sunflower-oil, you can really heat it up and it gives that specific Chinese flavor to the dish. But peanut oil or grape seed oil would work fine as well. Just don’t use olive oil for God’s sake. It’s not gonna taste good!
Stir-fry the vegetables (except for the peas) over very high heat. Start with the harder vegetables such as carrots and work your way down to the ones that need little cooking time, like spring onions. Keep moving the vegetables around constantly, which is why I have no photos of the actual stir-frying. My extra pair of hands had other responsibilities, the slacker :)
Once the vegetables are ready (make sure you don’t overcook them, they should be crispy) you add two tablespoons soy sauce. My little secret is to add equal amounts of chili sauce as well. The sweetness of the chili sauce will balance the saltiness, plus it spices things up just a bit. Add as much (or little) rice as you want, add the drained peas and stir. Originally you should add scrambled eggs as well. I never do. I like fried rice and I like eggs, just not combined. But don’t let me stop you :)
Does this look cheerful or what? Serve with a little sweet soy sauce on the side and some thinly sliced raw bell pepper (or cucumber) on top for a little extra crunch. Sprinkle some parsley on top and you’re done!