February 28, 2010

Fried Rice Shortcut and No-fail Rice



This fried rice is quick, easy and healthy. Its shortcut is using bagged frozen vegetable medley, which cuts way down on the prep.

Vietnam Fried Rice
Adapted from More-with-Less by Doris Janzen Longacre

4 T vegetable oil
1/4 or 1/2 c skinless chicken breast cut in thin strips (you could use just about anything though, including tofu)
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 large onion, chopped
1 t salt
1 t pepper
1 t sugar
1 1/2 T soy sauce (low sodium preferred)
1/4 t powdered ginger (or Penzey's Chinese 5-spice blend)
3 cups cooked rice (white, jasmine or even brown)
1 c frozen vegetable medley (with peas, carrots, green beans, etc.)
2 eggs, well beaten
Dash or three of Tabasco sauce
Cilantro for garnish (optional, but recommended)

Heat oil in large skillet over medium-high and add the onion and let soften for 2 to 3 minutes. Add the chicken, garlic, salt, pepper, sugar, soy sauce and ginger. Stir fry until chicken is cooked through, 3 minutes. Add the cooked rice. Stir fry for 5 minutes and then add the frozen vegetable medley. Continue cooking until vegetables are warmed through. Clear some space by moving the rice mixture to the side. Pour in the eggs and scramble. Once they are scrambled, mix the egg throughout.

Serve right away with cilantro garnish.

No-fail Rice
It seemed like one out of every four batches of rice I made got screwed up somehow. Either underdone, gummy or just bad. I seriously considered getting a rice maker. And I still am. But, I found a really great approach to making the perfect rice. It's called dumbed-down rice from Lynne Rossetto Kasper and Sally Swift's How to Eat Supper. The trick? Treat it just like you would pasta.

You can use this approach with any rice, but the cooking times vary. For fragrant rices (jasmine, basmati), rinse several times to remove excess starch, which can make the rice gummy.

Boil lots of water (add salt if you'd like). Add the rice and boil for 8 to 10 minutes or until it is slightly undercooked. Drain using a sieve or the pot cover. Return rice to the pot and cover. Let sit for 5 to 10 minutes. Fluff with a fork and serve.

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