Last night was a leftover meal. With a little over a week and a half home, and my constant cooking, the fridge has been filling up with bits of this and that and Tupperware. I’ve tried to keep using the leftovers for lunch the next day, but a few stubborn containers have been leering at me whenever I open the door. As mentioned yesterday, I’m fairly addicted to our dumplings, despite the flaws, so we continued with the Asian theme.
- 1/2 lb. finely diced Steak (Memorial Day grilling) (*can replace with mushrooms/veggies/tofu/etc, anything on hand)
- 4 stalks chopped Green Onions (Starting to wilt)
- 1/2 c. chopped Sugar Snap Peas (Just about expired)
- 2 minced Garlic cloves (drying out a bit)
- 2 lg chopped Carrots (dry as well)
- 3 c. cooked Brown Rice
- 1 med. chopped Onion
- 2 tsp. Canola Oil
- 1 tsp. Sesame Oil (optional)
- 3 eggs
- 2 Tbsp. soy sauce
- 1/2 tsp. Ginger (didn’t have fresh root on hand, so I just used the ground spice)
- 1/4 tsp. Cayenne Pepper
- 2 Tbsp. Sesame Seeds
- Salt & Pepper
I really got the hang of fried rice when I accepted what it was–leftovers. Traditionally, the dish is made with day-old rice and whatever bits of veggies and meats are left over from previous meals–ham from breakfast, the veg that didn’t quite get eaten at yesterday’s dinner, the one unused egg. The day-old, cold rice is the trick: fresh rice will stick together and won’t fry up crisply in the oil. Also, don’t overload on the veggies–too many will turn your rice soggy. Even though it means a bit more clean-up, I relay the cooking of the ingredients, removing each after cooking until mixing them all together in the final step. This also helps with overcrowding the pan (especially when you are wok-less, after your brother’s friend used a sharp spatula to mix in it and scraped off the nonstick surface). This dish is especially easy, as you don’t really have to measure any of the ingredients. I’ve made mine by eye and been quite happy every time.
So, last night, I allowed our largest frying pan to heat, added about a teaspoon of oil and added the last chopped quarter of a white onion and two cloves of mince garlic. I sauteed these for about two minutes, until fragrant and the onion had turned translucent, the edges just beginning to turn color. Into the pan, I added a handful of chopped baby carrots, the sliced white parts of 3 green onions (I reserved the green portion for later), and the remains of our sugar snap peas, chopped (a little more than a handful).
I continued to sauté this mix until the veggies were warmed through, but still crisp, and seasoned with the spices (salt, black pepper, ginger, cayenne). Then I cleared the whole mix into another bowl off the heat to wait. I had enough oil remaining in the pan to just throw in my chopped steak. It was maybe about 1/2 lb, all together, leftover from Memorial Day. We served it topped with blue cheese butter, alongside grilled asparagus and shallots, but the steak itself had only been previously seasoned with S&P and cooked to medium. I cooked the steak until browned and warm and added it to the Reserve Bowl with the veggies.
I added a bit more oil to the pan and scrambled 3 eggs (the favorite ingredient in our household) that had be beaten with a touch of soy sauce, sesame oil, and S&P. After those were cooked through, into the bowl they went.
Now comes the tricky part: the rice. As I mentioned, day-old cooked rice is best (jasmine variety), but we only had brown rice and I never, ever remember to cook rice beforehand. Usually this meal is a standby when I’m out of ideas. So, instead, I made the rice that afternoon, and spread it all across a jellyroll pan and put it into a 150 degrees Fahrenheit oven for about 1 hour, stirring occasionally. This helped to dry the rice out as it would overnight. I was running out of time, so I popped the whole tray into the freezer for about 20 minutes, until it was nice and cold. If you have more time, just leave the rice in the fridge until dinner, or do it the authentic and easier way: use actual leftover rice!
Anyways, one way or another, I had my rice. I added sesame oil to the pan this time, as I love the flavor, but more canola or vegetable oil would work just fine. I made sure the entire pan had been coated with the oil, gave it a minute to heat up, and then added my rice, stirring quickly to get every grain coated with the oil. Then I let the rice sit for one-two minute intervals, to allow a bit more frying. I did several of these “intervals”, stirring so the rice on top had a chance to fry. Then I added soy sauce (I’ve found La Choy and Target’s store brands to be wheat-free) until it looked about the right color and stirred until all the rice was coated. Another one or two frying “intervals” let the soy sauce caramelize and gave me the chance to season again with the spices (ginger, cayenne, S&P).
My veggies, eggs, and meat were still warm (and I didn’t have anymore room in my pan) so I transfer the rice to the bowl with the rest of the ingredients and mixed it all up. If you have the room, transfer all ingredients back to the pan, and allow to reheat for a minute or two while you mix everything together. At this point, I stirred in the sliced green portion of the green onions, and a spoonful or two of sesame seeds.
This fried rice was served with a couple of dumplings (pre-made and frozen the day before) and a homemade dipping sauce (soy sauce, rice vinegar, sesame oil, garlic, ginger, cayenne, S&P–all mixed to taste). It was a delicious, easy meal: excluding my rice catch-up-manouver, the whole process took about 30 minutes from chopping to sitting down at the dinner table. The fried rice was lovely, not sticky, but not too dry, and the steak worked especially well with all of the other flavors.
Easy, delicious, and it clears out the leftovers!