Hello Dear Reader & Happy Monday to you!
Mondays seem to come around all together too soon, don’t they? You’re busy with work, maybe you got off to a bit of late start and your finally home and ready to put your feet up but someones gotta get dinner on the table…. fret not, dear Reader! I’ve got your back! This fried rice is easily made on a busy weeknight and it’s perfect for every fried rice lover! Laden with a bits of pork and lots of veggies, this one-pot meal is incredibly satisfying and satiating! It’s also the perfect recipe for using up odd bits of veggies and any leftover rice!
Seriously, you can put in virtually any veggies your little heart desires – or in our case, whatever is “on its last legs” in the veggie drawer, or something you have only one or half of. It can even be something that’s cooked up, like leftover broccoli! The most important and key ingredient is the rice. You really want to have leftover or day-old rice for this, but don’t worry, have a read through my secrets for making the perfect fried rice and you’ll stun and amaze your family!
Here are my Five Secrets for the Perfect Fried Rice:
Secret #1: You must use leftover or day-old rice for fried rice. It needs a chance to dry out in the refrigerator. If you’ve ever put a take-out container of moist, sticky steamed rice in the fridge and noticed that the next day, its dry, doesn’t clump together and is a bit dry – this is exactly what you want! The heat from the pan during the frying process will hydrate the rice and infuse it with the delicious soy sauce and sesame oil that you will be adding to it!
Secret #2: Say you want to have fried rice TONIGHT. No problem! Just make your rice in the morning with about 1/4 Cup less water than usual, then as soon as it is done, fluff it up and spread it out on a baking sheet and let it cool on the counter. And yes, even this process can be expedited by leaving this pan of rice by an open window or cooling it in the fridge for an hour or so. Either way, you want this rice dry as a bone before you fry it. If you use use-made rice, it will be too clumpy, gooey and you will have too much liquid.
Secret #3: Use good rice! Since I’m Japanese, I favor the short-grain varieties since it goes with virtually all the dishes my family enjoys plus it just makes for darned good fried rice. This isn’t saying that long-grain rice isn’t also good for fried rice, I just prefer short-grained rice. If you use the long-grain rice, I recommend adding just a splash more water to your rice when you are cooking (ie. just over the cup line that you are measuring to, kind of like a rounded teaspoon measure).
Secret #4: Heat! Once you add your rice to the pan, crank up that heat! You need good, high heat to evenly and quickly fry and heat each grain of rice. This high heat will take out the extra moisture from the rice and evaporate the added soy sauce and sesame oil and leave you with perfectly fried, super yummy rice grains! Also, don’t constantly turn and flip your rice, you need to give the hot pan time to cook the rice by spreading out your rice and utilizing the entire cooking surface of the pan. After a 2-3 minutes, turn and flip your rice then spread it out again to cook the other side.
Secret #5: Fry each ingredient separately! This can be a rookie mistake, to put all the ingredients in the pan together then poking everything constantly so that nothing gets cooked and it increases your overall cooking time – no bueno for a hungry, tired family! Make sure you fry your ingredients separately, that means the veggies, protein & rice are all fried separately then combined for a final re-heating at the very end, just before serving. Ready for a BONUS secret?? This means you can fry all your ingredients (except the rice, I’d recommend to fry the rice just before serving) ahead of time! Just stick them in an airtight container (they can co-mingle after being fried separately) and keep in the fridge until you are ready to fry the rice and eat!
There you have it, follow those tips and you’ll be fine! I told you I’d have your back right?
What are the things you love about fried rice the most? For me, its such a simple and easy dish to make and the sheer versatility means you can literally make a different fried rice every night if you want… I mean, I enjoy variety, so this works out great! And by every night, of course I mean, every night that you dain to make fried rice, cuz seven or three hundred and sixty-five days straight of fried rice would get just … well, tedious. But it can be done!
For our family, this is a one-pot meal, even though you are taking things out of the pan and putting new things in, you only truly need one cooking vessel for it and a wide, shallow frying pan or a wok, if you have one, is just the thing for the job! Do be sure that you are using a good quality soy sauce and sesame oil as well since those are some of your only seasonings and you will taste them.
My family really enjoys pork. We find it to be more tender and tasteful than chicken or beef in our fried rice, but you can leave it out or switch it up and use beef, chicken, lamb, shrimp – whatever makes you tick! Also, I like a bit more of some veggies than others, so feel free to decrease and increase your veggie amounts as you like and of course omit or include any veggies you do or don’t like. Fried rice is a really special dish that can stand-up for itself and be a meal in and of itself, or it can be a stand-out side dish, just omit the protein if you are pairing it with a separate entrée with a protein or heck, why not serve two proteins in one meal? It is a very common practice in Asian cuisine!
I hope I have left you feeling confident (and hungry) in your ability to make a perfect bowl of fried rice!
INGREDIENTS: serves 6-8 people
- One Egg per person (we really enjoy lots of egg, so for our family of four people, I use 6 eggs)
- 4 TBS Sesame Oil, divided
- 1 TBS Vegetable Oil
- 1 Large Onion
- 3 Medium Carrots
- 1-1.5 lb Diced Pork (the least expensive cut is completely acceptable & recommended)
- 4 Cups Rice, leftover & chilled
- 1/4 Cup Soy Sauce
- 1 TBS Sake (Japanese Rice Wine)
- Freshly Ground Black Pepper
- 1 Cup Frozen Peas, thawed slightly in a bowl of lukewarm water
First peel & dice your onion, discarding the root ends then set it aside on a dinner plate. Then peel & cut your carrots. I prefer a smaller dice, but my girls like to be able to bite into the carrot bits so I dice them into about a 1/4-1/3 inch dice by first peeling the carrots then cutting each carrot into three large sections. Take each section, split it down the middle so you have two halves. Then cut each half into 4-5 vertical sections, making sure to keep the sections together so you can hold them together to make it appear as if they were un-cut. Holding the carrot together, turn the carrot section so that it is perpendicular to you, then dice as small as you like, into little boxy sections. *See photo below for help* Set on the same dinner plate as the onion, just keep the carrots in their own special pile so they can be fried separately later.
Put your wide, shallow (10-12 inch diameter) frying pan or wok on high heat. Give it a couple of minutes to warm up and while you are waiting on your pan, crack your eggs into a large measuring cup then use a fork to whisk the eggs together lightly. The measuring cup just makes it easier to quickly pour the eggs into your pan so feel free to use a bowl if that is more comfortable for you. Once your pan is hot enough, add one tablespoon of sesame oil and give it a few seconds to heat up. You’ll know your oil is hot enough when it quickly moves across the pan. Swirl the oil carefully around the pan to cover the entire cooking surface then pour your eggs into the pan. Make sure you pour your eggs all over the entire cooking surface and not just in one spot. Leave your eggs alone for the first minute. As you notice the bottom starting to firm up, use a spatula to turn the egg over. This is similar to making an omelet. The goal is to get all of the egg nearly cooked before breaking it up. You want a scrambled egg in the end, but cooking this way ensures that your egg will be consistently cooked. Once both sides are fairly cooked and starting to firm up, take the pan off the heat and use your spatula to break up the egg and scramble it. My family enjoys biting the egg, so we tend to leave our eggs in larger bits. If your family likes smaller bits, then begin scrambling your eggs while the second side is just starting to firm up. Either way you go, you still want a soft scrambled egg because you will be re-heating the eggs at the very end, just before serving and you don’t want a dried out scramble in your fried rice. Get out another dinner plate and put aside the scrambled egg in a pile of its own.
Next, put your pan back over medium-high heat, give it a minute to get hot before adding a tablespoon of vegetable oil. Give the oil a minute to come to temperature then add your diced onion. Saute your onion until they just begin to soften then add the diced carrots, sauteing until both the carrots and onion are soft and toothsome. You don’t want hard bits of carrots in your fried rice, you are aiming for tender carrot bits. While you are sauteing the carrots and onions, check your diced pork and take the opportunity to cut them into smaller bits. You want them a bit smaller than bite size, so that when you get a spoonful of fried rice, you have bits of pork, egg, veggies and rice without one being too much larger than the other. Once the carrots and onions are done, put this mixture back on the dinner plate they came from and set aside.
Add the pork to the frying pan and season lightly with pepper. You don’t need salt since the soy sauce will have plenty enough salt to season your dish and you don’t want a salty end product. Fry the pork, turning it occasionally for several minutes until the last bit of pink has just cooked out. Remove immediately from the pan, adding it to the plate with your carrot-onion mixture.
Now comes the rice! Bring the pan back over high heat and let it fully heat up before adding the remaining two tablespoons of sesame oil. Let the oil come to temperature and just before it begins to smoke, add the rice to the pan, spreading it out evenly over the entire cooking surface. Let it cook on its own, unprovoked for 1-2 minutes to really toast and fry the rice grains before flipping and stirring it around. Add the soy sauce and sake to the rice, then stir until all the grains of rice take on a light, golden brown color. Spread the rice evenly over the cooking surface and let it cook undisturbed again for 1-2 minutes before flipping and stirring it up. Cook for an additional 1-2 minutes until there is no more liquid in the pan. Turn the heat to medium then add in the pork, onion, and carrots, stirring to thoroughly combine the ingredients. Now drain the peas then add to the rice along with the scrambled egg, stir to combine and allow the ingredients to heat through.
Serve immediately, while piping hot & enjoy!
Don’t forget to check out the other Weekday Supper suggestions for this week! These are all delicious options that can be on the table within thirty minutes and a great way to shake up your Weekday Supper routine!
Monday – Secret Pork Fried Rice by A Mama, Baby & Shar-pei in the Kitchen
Tuesday – Happy Family Stir Fry by A Kitchen Hoor’s Adventures
Wednesday – One-Pot Mexican Chicken Pasta by Bobbi’s Kozy Kitchen
Thursday – Pan-Seared Salmon with Asparagus by Magnolia Days
Friday – Cheesy Penne with Turkey & Spinach by The Foodie Army Wife