When we got Chinese take-out as kids, we always made sure to order plenty of chicken fried rice.  :-)  Of course, nowadays I find I like it better without chicken, and we can’t get it as take-out anymore, but who says that should stop us from having some delicious fried rice from time to time?  :-)

Of course, this is just my way of making fried rice, not “the” way.  You can basically use whatever rice and vegetables you want, you can use chicken if you want, eggs if you want, neither if you don’t.  And I imagine there are as many opinions of the correct amount of soy sauce to use as there are humans on the planet Earth.  :-)  But the fundamental idea is constant — cook some rice, fry it, add things to it, and season it all with soy sauce.  Voila!  Fried rice.  :-)

This recipe (and its endless cousins) will be easiest if you have a rice cooker to cook the rice in, a small skillet to scramble some eggs in, and a large wok to fry everything together in.  You can probably get by without the rice cooker or the small skillet easily enough, but I strongly advise you to resist the temptation to use a large pot in lieu of a wok or super-large skillet.  It really seems like it’ll work anyway, and it really won’t.  You’ll have a really hard time stirring everything up well, and the soy sauce won’t get evenly distributed throughout the rice.  If you don’t have a large skillet or wok, and you really want to make fried rice, it’s a much better idea to scale down your recipe until it fits in the largest skillet you do have.

But enough doom and gloom.  :-)  There’s rice to be had!

Vegetable Fried Rice

Yield:  4-5 cups rice

Ingredients:

  • 2-3 cups dry gluten-free white rice (I usually use jasmine or basmati; some Uncle Ben’s varieties are listed as gluten-free now)
  • about 4 oz (half a small package) frozen mixed carrots and peas
  • about 1 cup chopped white or yellow onion
  • 3 eggs
  • about 2 T olive oil
  • salt, to taste
  • pepper, to taste
  • tamari soy sauce, to taste

Directions:

1.  Half an hour or so ahead of time, cook the rice in a rice cooker.  (You can also cook it on the stove in a heavy pot with a lid, but a rice cooker is more consistent and easier.)  The bag of rice should tell you how much water to use; if not, twice as much water as rice is a decent starting point.  Getting perfect rice is a fine art, but don’t worry too much — err on the side of less water if you’re not sure, and taste the rice when the rice cooker says it’s done.  If it isn’t done, add a bit more liquid and start it going again.

2.  While the rice cooks, scramble your eggs in a small teflon skillet.  If you don’t know how to scramble eggs, don’t worry, it’s super easy:  Just whisk the eggs together in a bowl, then pour them into a lightly greased medium-hot pan.  Keep an eye on them, and stir them up with a floppy spatula, making sure to scrape the pan with the spatula often, until the eggs are solid and (mostly) dry.  You can add all sorts of things to the egg when you whisk it — salt, pepper, milk, melted butter — but I just leave the eggs plain when I’m using them for fried rice.  We’ll season the rice and vegetables later.

Since you’ll be frying the egg again briefly with the rest of the ingredients, err on the side of less done eggs.  Once they’re solid, remove from heat, take them out of the pan onto a plate, and use your spatula to chop them up into little mixable pieces, and set aside till the rice is done.

3.  Once the rice is done, open the rice cooker and leave it open to vent excess steam.  Now we can really get started.  Heat a generous amount of olive oil in your wok.  Once the oil’s hot, add the frozen peas and carrots, as well as the onions; you can also start adding a little salt and pepper at this point.  Stir-fry the veggies till the onions start to caramelize and turn translucent at the edges.  (I usually chop the onions finer, but my brother did that part this time.)  :-)

4.  Add the cooked rice to the hot pan, and stir-fry it together with the veggies for a few seconds.  Now it’s time to add the soy sauce, and really pay attention to the salt and pepper.  These three things taken together — especially the soy sauce! — will give the fried rice its distinctive taste, but be careful, as soy sauce is pretty easy to overdo.

The key point here is — taste it, taste it, taste it.  :-)  You want enough soy sauce to tint the rice, and enough salt and pepper to bring out the flavor in everything else, but how strong you want your seasoning to be is up to you.  Add soy sauce, mix it in, taste, and adjust.  Add salt and pepper as you need to, mix them in, taste, and adjust.  “Less is more” is a great rule of thumb with soy sauce, but you don’t want so little that you don’t even notice it’s there, either.

Add the scrambled egg when you’re almost done frying the rice, and give everything one last round of mixing, tasting, and adjusting, till you’re happy with it.  Then take it off the heat, and let everyone know it’s time to eat.  :-)