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Fried Rice - Easy Version

Updated on February 11, 2016

Lots of versions, here's an easy one

You have leftover cooked rice in your rice cooker. The entire world with rice cookers has leftover cooked rice in their rice cookers. What to do with this leftover rice? The entire world has an answer.

Start with some vegetables. Celery, broccoli, carrots, grilled onions and mushrooms -- and garlic. But choose your own. If you have some leftover meat or firm tofu or shrimp, even other seafood, add that in as well, although here we are sticking to vegetables.

Fried rice - easy version. Fried rice is of course Chinese, but in fact cultures all over the world fry this leftover rice and come up with something absolutely delicious. You can even buy frozen fried rice; it's not bad, but it is better to follow the steps illustrated here.

(By the bye, you do have a rice cooker, don't you? You can get them everywhere, even Target. They cost almost nothing. Your pour in the rice, then the water. You click the button. That's it! Perhaps rice time after time, providing you use a good oriental rice, like CalRose, and get the rice-to-water ratio right. For me it is 1 to 1 3/4.

Oriental sauce

- Sesame oil

- Soy sauce

And some maybes, depending on your particular taste buds:

- Rice vinegar

- Sugar

- Vegetable broth or beef or chicken broth

- Some Hoisin sauce if you have a jar of this quintessential fried rice ingredient, quintessential at least if you are pursuing one of the many Chinese versions of fried rice.

By the way, I favor adding the rice vinegar without the sugar.

But lots of garlic

For sure.

Swish the sauce around in the skillet (or wok) to mix everything together. Then add as many smashed cloves of garlic as you dare.

Fire the burner up and cook the garlic a bit, until the odor is beyond delicious.

Looks magnificent, does it not? And we are just starting.

Add the veggies

Add the broccoli and the celery first and saute them a while. Maybe the carrots, too, depending on how finely you have sliced them -- only if you have sliced them really finely should you delay adding them..

Sturdy vegetables all, they require a little extra cooking.

Then add whatever else you have. I had some previously grilled onion, so I added that. Same with some mushrooms. My personal feeling is that mushrooms are essential. You can even soak dried mushrooms in water for a short time and then add those; you won't be disappointed.

Finally the rice

Spoon out whatever rice you have left over in your cooker into the skillet.

If it has been stored in the refrigerator overnight or for a few days, it will be stiff and a bit dry. This is not a bad thing, as that makes for better frying. The idea is to mash it down into the sauce and the vegetables.

If it's been cooked this same day, then spooning it out and mashing it down will be a breeze.

Just keep cooking it, turning it over and over so that the sauce gets into all of the rice. Let it sizzle as you do this.

On the plate

Yes, this is a dish with a lot of sizzle.

When the rice (which has, of course, already been cooked) has absorbed the sauce, mixed with the vegetables, and thoroughly warmed up, the meal is ready.

Fried rice can be served as an accompaniment to other foods, such as steak, or it can be made the main course. You can add grilled meats to it, for example. That coverts it from a side dish to a main course, a very delicious one.

We have it frequently in our home because we make a lot of other dishes, all of them Asian-inspired, which feature rice. Making fried rice is a way to gather up loose ends, as it were, and have something very good before we launch into something more formal on the next occasion. Another thing about fried rice is that the more you make it and the more you become familiar with how to make it and how to vary it, the more you appreciate its basic, simple virtues. You even begin to see why it might be one of the most popular dishes in the world.


Parting facts

Egg is a frequent ingredient added to fried rice. I rarely add it, but I am probably in the minority. In Thailand they use jasmine rice. Exotic, dried meats like alligator and lizard are added to fried rice in some parts of the world. I didn't have any of these handy when I prepared the fried rice illustrated here. They love fried rice in Peru. Korean fried rice makes liberal use of kimchi as an ingredient. For kimchi, click here. In the Philippines they eat a version which only has garlic in it, lots of garlic, plus of course salt and pepper. My mouth is watering. Chino-Latino, really Chino-Cubano restaurants, always feature fried rice.

Of course, and this just states the obvious -- which is worth stating now and then -- one of the great things about fried rice is that you are almost always rice which is leftover from some other meal and which might otherwise go to waste. This is one of those wonderful occasions where the conservationist in you (to say nothing of the budget-watcher) and the gourmand in you come together in perfect harmony. Glorious -- Simple -- Fried Rice.

Part of a series

Pictures, pictures, pictures

Series within series, actually. Food & Cooking, for example, then -- within that -- series on vegetables, fruits, seafood, meat, etc. Books, too. Ideas, too. Travel, too. Key virtues:. pictures, clear step-by-step text. Delicious -- whether foods or ideas! All of the series, and all of the items in each series, can be found, organized by floor, at this link: Lee White's Department Store. Happy shopping! -- everything is for free!

Real meal

Real Meal. Unlike fancy food mags, where images are hyped and food itself is secondary, all pix shown here are from a real meal, prepared and eaten by me and my friends. No throwing anything away till perfection is achieved. This is the real deal --- a Real Meal.

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