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Zero Food-Waste, Healthy Fried Rice

Zero Food-Waste, Healthy Fried Rice
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There aren’t many big bowls of hearty warmth that satisfy quite like fried rice. In fact, if you have a little leftover rice and some leftover veg in the fridge, you’re primed for a fast, fresh fried rice dinner — tasty, filling and no food waste!

In fact, the more leftovers and random ingredients you have, the better your fried rice will be. Eggs, chicken, veggies, nuts or seeds, you name it, you can make it happen. The result will be crunchy, umami, satisfying and frankly, a really good meal that’s good for you.

All you need is a wok or a 24-inch cast-iron skillet, then follow these tips for great, fast, fresh fried rice:

1

USE LEFTOVER RICE – OR QUINOA

It might seem counterintuitive, but fried rice is best when it’s made with day-old rice — not fresh. If you have some almost stale rice, you’re just one step away from an incredible meal. If you make fresh rice and use it, the rice will be clumpy — not crispy, and that crispiness is what you’re going for. That said, if you have some leftover quinoa or another grain, feel free to use it in lieu of the rice and innovate.

2

ADD A BIT OF MAPLE (OR SUGAR)

Just a tiny bit of maple syrup over your fried rice ingredients as they’re cooking goes a long way. Just a half teaspoon per serving. You could also use granulated organic sugar or brown sugar here. The point is to offset the umami and salty flavors of other ingredients.

3

DON’T SKIMP ON OIL

Oil keeps the rice simultaneously moist and crispy. Use a neutral oil — a combination of olive oil and sesame oil is nice. (Be careful not to get too excited and overuse the sesame oil — it’s a pretty powerful flavor.) Then coat the pan with a nice slick of oil, and don’t be afraid to finish with more if you need.

4

DON’T SKIMP ON VEGGIES

Traditional fried rice recipes call for frozen peas, carrots and corn. These aren’t what we’re talking about here (but if you have them, toss them in). Instead, try beets, cauliflower, broccoli, bok choy, radishes and deep leafy greens … all of which go beautifully in a stir-fry. Don’t be shy; add them all.

5

PICK YOUR FLAVORS

Scallions and chopped chicken are traditional. But there are lots of ways to make fried rice really interesting. Try kimchi, bacon, cauliflower, shallots, squash, kale, shrimp, broccoli, pork shoulder and curry … the possibilities are only limited by what’s in your refrigerator. In the recipe below, a combination of traditional and fresh ingredients is suggested.

6

PREP BEFORE YOU FRY

The cook time for fried rice goes by quickly, as with most high-heat dishes. Before you ever turn on the heat, prep all of your ingredients. Chop your veggies, gather your cooked meats, whip your eggs, and assemble your oils, vinegars and sauces.

7

BUILD ACCORDING TO COOKING TIME

Add your aromatics (onions and garlic) to the pan first, then meats, then rice. Add delicate vegetables (like radishes and greens) closer to the end of cook time. This way, flavor builds, everything gets cooked through, and you won’t have any overcooked or mushy bits.

8

RESPECT YOUR EGGS

Fried rice contains eggs, but we’re not scrambling here — your pan is SUPER hot when you add the eggs, so they will cook very quickly. Move all of the rice and other ingredients to the side, then drizzle in oil and Bragg’s Liquid Aminos then add the beaten eggs to the center of the pan and stir constantly so the eggs set and form threads that weave their way into your fried rice.

9

FINISH WITH FLAVOR AND CRUNCH

Just because your fried rice is done cooking, doesn’t mean you’re done building flavor. Add fresh herbs, sauces and crunchy toppings to make it a meal. Crumbled potato chips, toasted sesame seeds or savory granola. Once you’ve properly finished your fried rice, eat immediately.

Originally published September 2018, updated April 2023

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