Thursday, March 20, 2008

Healthy (I swear) and Delicious Fried Rice

I do not like Chinese food, not even a little bit. I'll eat it if pressed, but I never crave it. And yes, I have tried fancy Chinese food from places like PF Changs, and no, I don't like that either. So you can imagine my surprise when one evening I craved fried rice.

I looked in a few different cookbooks but wound up using Mark Bittman's recipe from his encyclopedia of a cookbook, How to Cook Everything. While I don't often love any of his recipes, he does have a recipe for everything (hence the title) and his recipes are a fabulous jumping off point. I often use them for research and ideas, or as bare bones guidelines, rather than as recipes.

Over the past few months I have eaten a lot of fried rice. It is an easy and satisfying dish to prepare, and comes together with everyday fridge items. It is great for lunch the next day. Almost any vegetable works in this recipe, so its a great way to get your greens in, and use up odds and ends before they spoil.

When I first thought fried rice, I definitely did not think nutritious meal. But using brown rice, lots of veggies, and good quality organic eggs boosts this dish's nutritional profile. I also use a combination of olive oil and sesame oil rather than canola or vegetable oil. And while I'm usually not a nonstick lover, it is great here--you only use a fraction of the oil and the rice doesn't stick.

This is the way I have come to use Mark Bittman's recipe and technique. Quantities and vegetables are easily substituted. I have yet to make this with meat, because I find the eggs to be filling enough, but I'm sure bacon, or some leftover chicken, would be great additions.

Fried Rice

slash of sesame oil
splash of olive oil
1-2 cups cooked brown rice
a few green onions, all of white and some of green stem, chopped
1/4 or so yellow, white, or purple onion, chopped
a handful of chopped bell peppers, any color
1 carrot, finely chopped
handful of frozen peas
whatever else you have in the crisper that seems like it may be good
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1-3 tablespoons soy sauce, depending on your taste

Heat oil in nonstick skillet on medium high heat. When oil is hot but not smoking, add vegetables. Fry fast, stirring almost constantly, for a few minutes. When vegetables have softened and begin to brown, add rice. Fry fast, stirring, for a few more minutes. Make a well in the center of the rice and vegetable mixture. Pour in beaten eggs. When eggs begin to set, scramble in well. Start incorporating vegetable and rice mixture and stir, until egg is distributed throughout. When eggs are cooked, remove pan from heat. Stir in soy sauce to taste.

Bonus Rice Recipe
Don't have any rice made already? Use the homemade stock I know you all ran out and made after my last post to make the most delicious brown rice ever!

1 cup brown rice
1 tablespoon butter
1 1/2 cups stock
pinch of salt

Melt butter in pot over medium heat. Stir rice into melted butter, making sure all grains are coated. Add stock and salt and bring to a boil. Lower heat and simmer, covered, 50-60 minutes, or until rice is done. If rice seems dry at any point during cooking, add more stock.

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