Monday, March 4, 2013

Easy Fried Rice

I have seen a lot of recipes lately for fried rice and decided it was time to give it a try. After going through various recipes, I have come up with my own version. If you are the type of cook that likes exact measurements, you won't like this recipe, sorry!

Fried rice is really easy to put together, and if you are short on time during the week, it's something you can prep on the weekend and easily put together for a tasty weeknight meal.

Here is what you will need without measurements, just adjust to your taste and the amount of people you will be serving:
  • Cooked white rice. Prepare this a day or two ahead of time. Leftover rice actually works best (I'm writing more at the end of this post about using a rice cooker to simplify things even more). 
  • 1/4-1/2 diced onion
  • Frozen peas and carrots. You will want to either thaw these ahead of time, or heat them according to the package directions, subtracting a few minutes (you will heat them more in the pan so there is no need for them to be completely cooked)
  • Eggs, about one for every 2 people. Lightly beat in a bowl. 
  • Sesame oil (pictured above). This can be found in the Asian section of most grocery stores. It adds great flavor. 
  • Canola or vegetable oil. 
  • Soy sauce. I prefer low sodium to keep it a little healthier. 
  • Chili paste with garlic. Just to add a little spice.
  • Chicken breasts or thighs cut into small pieces. You don't need much, maybe one for every 2-4 people. It's great without chicken too or you could add pork, shrimp, or whatever protein you have on hand.

Heat a little canola oil in a pan over medium high heat. Add onion, chicken or other meat, sprinkle with a little sesame oil and soy sauce and heat until meat is completely cooked through. Push chicken and onion to the side or remove from pan. Add egg(s) and gently scramble. Add rice, veggies, and return chicken and onions to pan. Pour a little sesame oil and soy sauce over mixture and stir. Add chile paste one teaspoon at a time. Taste and add more soy sauce or chile paste until you have the flavor as you like it. If your family prefers different flavors or levels of spice, let each person add additional chile paste and soy sauce to their bowl.

The ingredients for this meal are easy to keep on hand so that you can cook it anytime you are not sure what to make or when you are trying to save money (it's very budget-friendly!). 

I recently bought this Aroma 12-Cup Digital Rice Cooker and Steamer from Target. Rice is not difficult to cook, but I feel like when I am making dishes that include rice I tend to forget about it until the last minute. So I decided to get a rice cooker and this way I can either make it in advance, like I do for this fried rice, or let it cook on it's own while I am preparing a dish to serve with it. It's nice because after it cooks it will stay warm in there. You can also use it to steam vegetables and other food. I would say it was $30 well spent! There might be better rice cookers out there, I did not do much research ahead of time. I had a Target gift card and figured this inexpensive version would suit our needs just fine, and it has.

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