Perfect Fried Rice

Why so many food posts lately?! I have no idea. Deal with it. Today: Fried rice, but you know, minus the gut bomb and growing regret part afterwards, and with way more veggies than the few wrinkly peas you see sometimes.

Fried rice always feels like a.) kind of a cop-out to order takeout and b.) the unhealthiest thing ever to eat, and attempts to make it at home (at least for me) always seem to end in…. a greasy disgusting mess of overly-salty rice mush.  Gross.

HOWEVER. This is not always how it has to be! You are totally allowed to mess with concepts, like “what fried rice is.” Forget your notions of $3 greasy takeout and failed attempts to re-create it! Fried rice can totally be a meal in and of itself.

Like that huge coconut lentil stew I posted last week, wok-fried rice with plenty of tofu and veggies is another great, cheap way to feed a shit-ton of hungry people or just yourself for a week straight. And honestly, it’s surprisingly healthy, especially if you add a ton of veggies, use brown/wild rice, and keep the oil and sugary/salty sauces to a minimum. (Garlic and ginger go a long way for flavor, seriously.)  And once you’ve stocked up on the seasonings (most people might not always have soy sauce and sesame oil and cilantro on hand, but, uh, I do) it’s super cheap and easy.  It’s also really easy to adapt to vegan or gluten-free diets, or you can replace the tofu with shrimp, chicken, pork, or steak for your meat-eating friends.

The secret is all in the prep, which is also super easy and fast once you get the hang of it.  As usual, sharp knives (and a perverse enjoyment of, say, “julienning peppers”) help a ton, and a really awesome nonstick/well-seasoned wok is absolutely necessary.

You’re gonna need:

  • Rice (preferably leftover/a lil stale - mine was fresh, hence the sorta sticky appearance in above photo, but I kinda like it that way too.)  Long grain white is probably what you’re expecting, but I find wild rice/brown rice blends work really nicely here, or even brown basmati. Different rice will yield different texture — sushi rice, for example, will likely become a nightmare risotto-esque mess, but firmer varieties will get all nice and firm and crispy.
  • Firm or Extra Firm Tofu
  • Eggs (if you eat them)
  • Veggies of your choice that require cooking (mushrooms, onions, zucchini/squash, eggplant, asparagus, broccoli)
  • Veggies of your choice that are tastier almost-raw (bell peppers, carrots, bok choy, sugar snap peas, soybeans)
  • Pineapple, if you want. Canned and chopped or fresh and chopped is fine.
  • Nuts, if you like them (cashews, peanuts, or almonds are nice)
  • Enough garlic to kill an army of vampires
  • Green onions
  • Cilantro, if you are, like me, of the “no such thing as too much cilantro” school of cooking
  • Sesame oil
  • Hot sauce (SRIRACHA 4LYFE)
  • Some sort of marinade (either pre-made teriyaki type sauce, or just use the recipe below.)

Ready? OK, cool. Let’s go.