Quick fix: Put leftovers to use in fried rice

cmacias@sacbee.comJanuary 1, 2013 

No need to throw away that day-old rice.

Heat up that wok or sauté pan, grab whatever sounds good from the fridge, and you're on the way to making some tasty fried rice.

Chop up some veggies, improvise with other ingredients you have on hand, and you're pretty much good to go.

The Sacramento region is especially awash in rice right now. According to the California Rice Commission, this area is home to 97 percent of California's rice production, with about 5 billion pounds of rice harvested annually.


Pineapple fried rice

Serves 2 to 4

• Ingredients:

½ tablespoon fish sauce

½ tablespoon mushroom soy sauce (or white light soy sauce)

1 tablespoon Gold Mountain soy sauce

½ teaspoon white vinegar

1 tablespoon sugar

2 tablespoons vegetable oil, divided

1 egg

1 teaspoon chopped garlic

½ cup sliced white onion

6 ounces sliced chicken breast

6 ounces peeled large shrimp, deveined

2 cups leftover cooked rice (preferably long-grain rice at room temperature)

½ cup fresh pineapple

1 tablespoon unsalted roasted cashews

Sliced fresh pineapple, cucumber and tomatoes for garnish

• Instructions:

Mix all the sauces and vinegar with sugar in a small bowl; set aside.

Heat wok and add 1 tablespoon oil, heating until the oil is about to start smoking. Add egg to the heated oil, and stir until cooked. Remove cooked egg and set aside with rice.

Add the rest of the oil to the wok, turn up the heat and add the garlic, onion, chicken breast and shrimp. Stir the premixed sauces in until the meat is cooked. Reduce heat to medium and add the rice and egg. Continue to stir until the rice turns slightly brown. Reduce heat. Add pineapple and mix well with the rice.

Place fried rice on serving plate. Top the rice with roasted cashews and garnish with fresh sliced pineapple, cucumber and tomatoes.

This recipe is courtesy of Suleka Lindley of Thai Basil in Sacramento.


Spicy fried rice

Serves 2 to 4

• Ingredients:

1½ tablespoons Gold Mountain soy sauce

1 tablespoon mushroom soy sauce

1 tablespoon sugar

1½ tablespoons vegetable oil

1 teaspoon chopped garlic

1 teaspoon fresh chili pepper

6 ounces sliced mixed veggies: carrots, onions, broccoli, zucchini, etc.

6 ounces tofu or cooked meat

2 cups leftover cooked rice (preferably long-grain rice at room temperature)

½ cup fresh Thai basil

Chopped green onions, garnish

• Instructions:

Mix all the sauces with sugar in a small bowl, set aside.

Heat wok and add oil, heating until the oil is about to start smoking. Add garlic and chili peppers, and stir often, until garlic is roasted. Add vegetables and tofu or meat, and mix together over the highest heat.

Add the mixed sauces. Stir until all vegetables or meat are cooked. Reduce heat to medium. Add rice and continue to stir until the rice turns slightly brown. Reduce heat. Add fresh basil and mix well. Top with chopped green onion.

This recipe is courtesy of Suleka Lindley of Thai Basil in Sacramento.


Looking for a wok?

Fried rices can certainly be cooked in a traditional sauté pan, but the wok, with its round-bottomed shape will always be a winner.

Traditional woks are made of cast iron, stainless steel and carbon steel. Stainless steel tends to cook food especially quickly.

To season a wok, you'll need two things: oil and plenty of heat. Vegetable oil will work fine; seasoning with pork fat and chives is a time-honored Chinese method. Here's the stovetop method for seasoning a wok:

• Start by coating the inside of the wok evenly with oil.

• Crank up the heat and watch the wok smoke. Make sure the fan above your range is running.

• The wok's color will start to turn.

• Repeat the steps as necessary to produce a uniformly dark color.

After the wok is seasoned, some opt to stir-fry and char a mix of pungent vegetables -- garlic, onions and ginger -- to remove lingering metallic taste in the wok.

With proper care, your wok can last for many years. Keep the wok dry to prevent rusting, and if you know it won't be used for an extended period of time, coating the wok with a little oil will help preserve it.

Watch for dents in the wok and signs that a hole might be forming. Then it'll be time to shop for a new wok.

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