At one time or another, all of us are probably guilty of throwing out leftovers and senselessly wasting food. I know I’m guilty, unfortunately, on more than one occasion.
I recently read a post by a foodie friend at Kimchi Mom which reminded me that I needed to renew my efforts to not waste food. I’ve been trying to change my ways for a while. For example, since Bebe E and I are typically home for lunch during the week, we usually eat leftovers (or other easy lunches that I should start posting at some point). I also try to use small portions of random produce or leftovers in the fridge, by making soup, stir-fry, casserole or fried rice.
On a bad day, we have what I refer to as, “bad buffet night”. This involves each family member eating a different dish or a miss-mash of various leftovers to help clean the fridge. This happens at least two to three times per month.
On a good day, with leftovers I can make a kakiage donburi (shrimp and vegetable mixed tempura served over rice with donburi sauce) or other simple donburi dish, sake onigiri (salmon rice balls), mentaiko spaghetti (spicy cod roe pasta), or fried rice, which is a family favorite.
Over the last two years I’ve improved the way that I cook fried rice and my family has noticed. I’m not embarrassed to share that my fried rice was less than mediocre, and in reality closer to what I deem “not good”.
As a child, I grew up eating fried rice at Chinese restaurants and our local ramen restaurant. At home, my Dad would make us fried rice with leftover steak, onions, soy sauce and black pepper. It was usually too greasy for me, slightly on the mushy side, and I ate it, but fried rice at home wasn’t a favorite of mine.
Mom’s fried rice involved a Japanese seasoning package for fried rice which included, what I believe to be, significant amounts of MSG. While it tasted more flavorful, it was also somewhat mushy and it wasn’t a favorite of mine, although I think my brother liked it. At any rate, as I got older, my sensitivity to MSG increased so I avoided these types of seasoning packs as they often made me ill.
When I was all grown-up, making fried rice on my own, I would add egg, meat, yellow onions, vegetables, and soy sauce to leftover rice. I probably added something along the lines of worcestershire sauce and possibly even Bulldog sauce (Japanese brand of oyster sauce) and/or leftover char siu sauce but it was usually on the mushy side and it never tasted that good. It was, however, always a wonderful way to use leftovers and always easy to prepare.
Today, Bebe Dada will attest to the fact that my fried rice has improved significantly since we first started dating almost eight years ago, and that it genuinely tastes pretty great. I can’t take credit for this improvement, however. One of my first foodie friends was Liv, of Egg Wan’s Eastern Food Odyssey. She’s a professionally trained chef and a cooking instructor. When she posted her Hai-lu (seafood and meat) fried rice recipe, I knew that my cooking would change for the better.
That, my friends, was the beginning of the end of not-so-good fried rice, and the beginning of fried rice that tasted great!
The best thing about fried rice is that you can add almost anything to it, and somehow it just works. Our fried rice typically includes egg, carrots, frozen peas if available, green onions, leftover chopped up char siu, marinated chicken, and if we’re lucky, leftover sautéed baby bok choy (recipe found here). It’s a great way for our family to use up leftover rice, char siu and baby bok choy.
makes approximately 4 servings
Adapted from Liv Wan’s recipe
for marinated chicken:
- 2 to 3 chicken breast tenderloins, chopped into bite size pieces
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce
- 1/2 tablespoon brown sugar
- Dash of black pepper
- Roughly 5 to 6 cups cooked rice (I usually use leftover brown rice that I store in the freezer)
- 1 garlic clove, chopped
- 1 carrot, diced
- 2 stalks green onions, chopped
- 3 large eggs
- Couple slices of BBQ char siu pork, chopped into small pieces
- 3 sautéed baby bok choy, chopped (recipe here)
- 1 tablespoon dried beni ebi (baby shrimp or sakura shrimp) for flavor (original recipe uses marinated prawns)
- 2 tablespoon canola oil
- soy sauce, to taste
- white pepper, to taste
1. Combine marinade ingredients (garlic, soy sauce, black pepper and chicken) and marinate for 10 minutes.
2. Par-boil diced carrots. Drain and set aside.
3. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in deep frying pan (or wok) and add garlic. Saute marinated chicken and then remove from pan.
4. Gently beat eggs with a dash of salt and black pepper. Add 1 tablespoon oil into pan, heat, and cook scrambled eggs until they are barely firm. Then add rice (defrosted, if frozen).
5. Add dried beni ebi (shrimp), BBQ char siu, baby bok choy to fried rice. Also add back-in cooked chicken and par-boiled carrots. Gently toss, but do not over mix. Cook for about 5 minutes until rice is heated through.
6. Add chopped green onions and cook for another 2 minutes or so. Season with a dash of soy sauce and a dash of white pepper. The key is using white pepper, not black pepper, to season the fried rice. It makes a big difference!
Try this fried rice and you’ll enjoy using up your leftovers!
Stay tuned . . . I’m off to the CBS studios on Friday! For what, you ask?!? Hmmmm . . .
AND . . . I’ve committed to making some aesthetic changes to my blog site. I’m not sure how long this will take but the wheels are finally moving! Exciting changes for Spring!