There are honestly very few instances during the week where I make a dish with meat. Especially last semester when my free time was effectively the hour of television I watched before going to bed. College is a sad, sad place sometimes. But, mainly it’s because I don’t ever remember to defrost something so I can cook it for dinner. I’m pretty forgetful, especially before I get my morning coffee.
One thing I make often for my roommate and me is fried rice. Typically, my fried rice will consist of whatever vegetables I can find in my fridge. So sometimes it’s pretty fancy and has more exotic items like broccoli or bell peppers, but more often than not it only contains carrots, onions, and celery. Not the healthiest dinner mind you, but it has its nutritional value. But, I’ve found that fried rice can be particularly sophisticated with the simple addition of a bag of frozen mixed vegetables.
This fried rice is among a long line of attempts to reproduce a fried rice that I try to eat every time I go home. There’s a hibachi place that my parents actually got married at that we go to from time to time. And their fried rice is to die for. I’m pretty sure the secret ingredient is a combination of a hibachi grill and sake, but I don’t have either of those. So I have to make due.
We’ll start with the rice. For this, I use a rice cooker because rice cookers are great and everyone should have one. There are many ways to make rice. Stovetop is definitely the most difficult because rice almost always burns to the bottom of the pan. Then there’s oven rice, which is simple and the go-to method if you don’t own a rice cooker. But since we have this one highly specific kitchen appliance, I’m going to use it.
Before making any rice, make sure you wash it first. So I throw the rice into the rice cooker pot and then fill the pot up with water. Then I use my hand to stir the rice around and that helps get rid of some of the starch in the rice. Then pour out the liquid and try your hardest not to lose any rice. Rinse and repeat (no pun intended). Washing rice isn’t a real requirement, I often don’t do it. But I find the rice soaks up the soy sauce later on when it’s been washed versus not being washed.
After that I add the recommended amount of water to the rice cooker (it’s typically 2 cups of water for every cup of rice) and a little bit of rice vinegar. The rice vinegar will make the rice stickier and fluffier.
Then there’s the matter of what to add to your fried rice. For this I use a bag of frozen mixed vegetables, which seemed to have carrots, peas, corn, and green beans. I don’t care what people say, there’s nothing bad about frozen vegetables. They’ve been flash frozen so once they’re thawed and cooked properly, they taste about as well as the fresh thing. Sure, I’ve never gotten frozen green beans where the texture is as crisp as the fresh ones, but frozen vegetables are much cheaper than their fresh counterparts.
In addition to my frozen veggies, I add some chopped yellow and green onions.
In a pot (I used a pot because I made a lot of rice, but a skillet would work too) I heated up a mixture of sesame oil and olive oil. Now this is something that’s really important to know if you don’t already. Oil. And butter too, but oil starts more kitchen fires. All oil has a thing called a smoke point. Basically there’s a temperature in which the oil begins to vaporize and this is when it’s prone to lighting on fire. Once it’s on fire, it becomes the bane of anyone’s existence and they’re typically referred to as grease fire. Never pour water on a grease fire. All you gotta do is pop a lid on it and smother the fire. Once all of the oxygen is burned up, it will go out after all.
But safety aside, there are very simple ways of preventing a grease fire, and that’s by knowing the smoke point of oils. Now I’m not saying you should memorize the specific temperatures at which different oils begin to smoke. I don’t know that either. Although you can certainly google it. But I’ll save you the trouble. Here’s the smoke point (in ˚F and in ˚C) of some commonly used oils:
So what can you do with this enlightening information? Well, don’t heat butter, olive oil, or sesame oil up on high heat for one. But another thing you can do is mix oils together. Doing so will raise the smoke point of the oil with the lower one. Simple. Also, by mixing the sesame and olive oil, I was able to use less sesame oil. Not only is sesame oil very potent, but it’s also very expensive because it’s a specialty oil. It’s less expensive if you buy it from an Asian Supermarket, but sometimes I don’t have time for that.
Back to business. After heating up my oil I threw in the yellow and green onions and let those cook up until the onions were translucent. You can save the green onions for later if you want a more raw green onion taste, but I think they’re fine cooked so that’s what I did.
After that, I added in the frozen vegetables. I let the bag sit out on my counter for a couple hours to kind of defrost the vegetables. This way they cook up faster and they won’t leave a huge pile of water at the bottom of the pot when I start cooking them. I also added in some bean sprouts because I really like bean sprouts. Those are entirely optional. Once the vegetables were in, I stirred it up and let it cook for a little bit more. I added in a tiny bit of soy sauce so that the vegetables could start soaking it up and then I left it alone while I attended to other things.
One of those things were my eggs. You can’t have fried rice without eggs. In a bowl, I used a fork to whisk up my eggs with a little bit of Siracha for some heat. I only went with a little bit because some people in my apartment don’t have an affinity for spicy food like I do. So the amount of Siracha you use is entirely up to you.
Over medium heat, I heated up a little bit of sesame oil, just enough to coat the pan once it thinned out a little bit. Then I threw in the egg. I let this go, left it alone for a good couple of minutes. I don’t want a scrambled egg texture here, I want more of a rolled egg or omelet feel. Then I flipped over my new egg pancake and let it cook on the other side. After which, I chopped the egg into bite-sized squares using my spatula and took it off the heat. Now everything’s ready for assembly.
I added the rice and the egg to my vegetables and stirred it up like a madman. While I did that, I added in soy sauce a little bit at a time. I don’t want to use a whole lot here, because I want a nice, light soy sauce flavor. But it’s best to add a little and taste as you go to find the amount of soy sauce right for you.
And that’s pretty much it. It’s pretty easy since most of the cook time is dedicated to the rice cooker doing its job. And because I used frozen vegetables, the prep time was almost nonexistent. Fried rice is something I’m sure I’ll make for many years to come as I lose more and more of my life to grad school.
Prep time: 5 minutes
Cook time: 45 minutes
- 4 cups uncooked rice
- 8 cups of water
- 1 tbs rice vinegar
- 1 tbs olive oil
- 1 tsp sesame oil
- 1 onion, diced
- 2 green onions, sliced
- 1 16 oz bag frozen mixed vegetables
- ½ 7 oz bag bean sprouts
- 3 eggs
- 1 tsp siracha
- ¼ cup soy sauce
- Wash rice until water runs clear
- Place rice into rice cooker and fill with water to the corresponding line
- Add in rice vinegar, stir, and set rice cooker to cook
- In skillet or pan, heat sesame oil and olive oil over medium heat
- Add onions and green onions and cook until onions are translucent, ~5 minutes
- Add in frozen vegetables and bean sprouts and cook for another 3 minutes
- Add in 2 tbs of the soy sauce and let cook for another 5 minutes
- Whisk eggs and siracha
- Heat 1 tsp of olive oil in a separate skillet over medium heat
- Add egg and cook for 1-2 minutes and flip to cook other side
- Cut up egg in the pan into bite-sized pieces
- Add to rice and egg to the vegetables and stir to combine
- Add in remaining soy sauce and more to taste
Gluten-free, Dairy-free, Vegetarian