08 June 2010

Meatless Monday - Fried Rice


Fried rice ... one of the most satisfying veggie and carb fixes the Asians ever concocted. In our house, there is never that take-out phonecall, though. Why call out for Asian when it is so very simple to make?  Besides, a fresh bowl of fried rice is so much better tasting than one that has been made earlier and  'dished'  into the takeout carton at the last minute in order to complete the order. A bowl of fresh fried rice that is loaded with eggs, peapods, shitake mushrooms, mung sprouts, scallions, and Thai basil is a complete meal.

This bowl of fried rice is a veggie version in honor of Meatless Monday ... no, I do not consider eggs to be meat. Sorry. If you care to add to the recipe, chop and add cooked shrimp, chicken, pork, or beef at the last minute.

When I make fried rice, I always cook the rice first and let it sit with the cover off the pan to cool and firm up. I use a bit less water than normal to steam it, too. Then, I listen to it every few minutes until I hear the pan begin to make a ---sssss--- sound, which means that the water is just about gone and the rice could begin to stick to the pan's bottom. Then I quickly splash a dash of water in the pan, turn off the heat, cover it back up and 'finish the rice'. I taste a few of the top rice grains and when they are just a perfect firmness. I take the top off the pan and let it cool down. Perfect rice ... every time. God knows, there's nothing worse than gloppy rice, right?



So ... making fried rice is just a lot of  'slice and dice', a concentrated  'flash stir-fry', and a' toss it together' at the end ... very simple. The best thing you can do for yourself, if you're a fan of Asian cooking is get yourself a good wok and good stir-fry utensils. I have a Calphalon non-stick and I use plastic utensils to save the interior of the wok. I will stick by it until the day I die, although some purists that I know tell me their steel woks are superior. I've never watched them scrub at theirs and think my non-stick is worth it's weight in gold because it's so easy to clean out and  keep grease-free. Do what you will, though!



Fried Rice ... grab a bowl and some chopsticks and go for it!



Fried Rice - printer friendly

Fried Rice

Ingredients:

4 c. steamed rice
3 eggs, lightly beaten
2 c. fresh sliced shitake mushrooms
2 large handfuls fresh peapods, washed and tipped
4 perfect fresh scallions, greens and whites sliced
2 large handfuls fresh mung bean sprouts, washed and drained well
½ c. Thai basil leaves
½ c. gluten-free soy sauce (I use low-sodium, too.)
a generous dash of five spice powder
a generous dash of ground white pepper
peanut oil for stir-frying

Note: You may wish to add sliced red peppers and/or water chestnuts too.

Preparing the Fried Rice:

1. Steam the rice in a heavy pan with a close-fitting lid until it is just firm and pan is almost water-free. Add a small splash of water, turn off the heat, and leave the lid on for a few more minutes. Taste and when the rice is a perfect al dente, leave the lid off the pan and let the rice cool.

2. Meanwhile, prep all the veggies and the eggs and have beside the wok.

3. Heat the wok until it is very hot. Add 1 tbsp. peanut oil and swirl to coat the wok. Add the eggs and stir-fry until set and glistening. Slide them into a large serving bowl and set aside.

4. Return the wok to the heat and add another 2 tbsp. peanut oil, swirling to coat. Add the mushrooms and stir-fry for one minute, then add the peapods and stir-fry until the peas turn a bright green and glisten. Slide these ingredients into the same serving bowl.

5. Return the wok to the heat. Add 1 tbsp. peanut oil and swirl. Add the bean sprouts and stir-fry until the stringy ends are thread-like and the sprouts glisten – about two minutes. Slide them into the serving bowl.

6. Return the wok to the heat and get it good and hot again. Add 2 tbsp. peanut oil and swirl. Add the rice and break it up, tossing to stir-fry. Then, let it ‘crisp’ a bit between tossing. When you see some browned grains, drizzle the soy sauce over the top and add the five spice powder and white pepper and toss to combine. Turn in the basil and scallions, tossing to distribute. Add the veggies and eggs back into the wok and gently toss to distribute. Serve immediately or place in a large serving bowl and set aside. Reheat gently in a microwave just before you want to eat.

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