Stir-fried dishes were the best thing I learned to make when I worked at the Asian Food Deli. It’s no wonder that the period still has a lot of influence in my cooking. Fried rice is easily one of my favorite stir-fry dishes. Most of the rice I’m using is from leftovers, and I love experimenting with leftovers to develop exciting recipes. What’s more, there is a great variety of ingredients to consider adding to your fried rice. Many styles to cook it, be it Caribbean, Chinese, Indian and other cultures that share this dish.
In my kitchen, I prefer diced vegetables to the huge chunks of meat in my fried rice. This version allows me to have this as a simple side that can shine on its own or easily compliment meat dishes. The secret to perfect fried rice is having cold rice on hand. A pure Mwea Pishori is my go-to variety for most of my rice dishes. It cooks perfectly after washing and cooking with the 1:2 cups rice to liquid ratio. It also has a delicious taste and inviting smell. Nevertheless, almost any rice will produce excellent results using the same process. For fried rice, I tweak the recipe to omit half a cup of liquid. This allows the rice to remain firmer than fully cooked rice.
For my Vegetable Fried Rice, I used coconut rice that I had cooked the evening before and chilled in the fridge. I love coconut, and it inspires the tropical flavors in the dish. Diced carrots, onions, a variety of bell peppers, and peas were all vital in creating this dish. Finally, the mixture of Asian-inspired sauces, brown sugar, and sesame oil brings out a color element that completed the recipe. A wok is the most preferred utensil when making any stir fry, but a karahi or a deep cast iron skillet will do too for this fried rice.
Coconut Rice (for fried rice recipes)
- 2 cups pishori long grain rice, picked and washed until water runs clear
- 2 cups water
- 1 cup coconut milk
- 1 tbsp. coconut oil
- ½ tbsp. minced ginger
- ½ tbsp. minced garlic
- ½ tsp freshly ground white pepper (optional)
- Salt to taste
Makes: 8 cups, loosely packed cooked rice
Takes: 10 minutes’ prep time, 35 minutes’ cook time
Equipment Needed: large pot with lid
In a large nonstick pot, warm the coconut oil. Add the ginger and garlic and cook for a minute or two until fragrant.
Add salt, pepper and stir well. After 2 minutes add the coconut milk to cool down the pot.
Add the rice. Stir to make sure all ingredients are well mixed and cook for 3-5 minutes stirring gently. Stir in the rest of the liquid, cover the pot and simmer the rice on low heat for an extra 12-15 minutes or until all the liquid is absorbed.
When done, allow the rice to cool for about half an hour then fluff it up with a fork or skewers. Fluffing allows each grain to stand alone without breaking the rice.
Transfer the rice into a zip lock bag or any preferred container and chill it in the fridge for 4 hours or up to when needed.
Vegetable Fried Coconut Rice
- 6-8 cups chilled cooked coconut rice (recipe above)
- 1 1/3 cup boiled green peas
- 1 1/3 cup diced carrots
- ½ cup green bell pepper, diced
- 1 cup red bell pepper, diced
- 1 cup yellow/orange bell pepper, diced
- 3 tbsps. shallots, chopped (substitute with one small red onion, chopped and 1 tbsp. minced garlic)
- 1 white onion, diced
- 1 tbsp. minced ginger
- ½ cup sliced fresh green onions
- ½ cup of chopped cilantro leaves
- Limes or lemons halved
- 3 tbsps. coconut oil
- 1 tbsp. soy sauce
- 1 tbsp. hot sauce
- 2 tbsps. fish sauce
- 2 tbsps. brown sugar
- 1 tsp. sesame oil (optional)
- White pepper, as needed
- Salt to taste
Makes: 6-8 servings
Takes: 3O MINUTES PREP TIME, 35 MINUTES COOK TIME
Equipment Needed: wok/karahi/deep cast iron skillet
Stir-fried dishes include a lot of chopping, dicing, and slicing during their preparation. It is almost as if the prep work is the toughest part of the process. Once it’s out of the way, the cooking is rather straightforward and enjoyable.
Have all your ingredients washed, cut accordingly and arranged close to your cooking area. It’s entirely a large spread so arrange them in order of what you’re cooking first.
In a bowl combine soy sauce, hot sauce, fish sauce, and sesame oil. Add brown sugar and stir until all of it has dissolved. Once well mixed, set aside.
In a large karahi, heat one tablespoon of oil and half a tablespoon of salt. Add green peppers and white onions. Cook for 2 minutes, or until onions are translucent.
Add the rest of the pepper and cook for two more minutes. Season with a pinch of white pepper if you like, take off heat and set aside.
On the same karahi pour another tablespoon oil with the heat on medium. Add carrots and cook for 3-4 minutes until soft. Add minced ginger and cook for an extra 1 minute.
Add another tablespoon of oil. Add the shallots, salt, and a tsp of white pepper, and cook while stirring constantly. After 1-2 minutes add the peas, turn on high heat and cook for an extra 3-4 minutes.
Begin adding the rice two cups at a time stirring gently with a silicon spoon making sure each grain of rice is coated with oil and well heated through.
Give each batch a minute or so to heat through before adding the following batch. It will take 5 minutes to add all the rice. I used 6 cups of the rice but you can use all the 8 cups if you prefer more rice to veggies in your fried rice.
Add the cooked peppers and onions. Cook for an extra 1 minute making sure all the ingredients are well mixed.
The rice already looks good at this point, but the sauce will take it some notches higher.
Sprinkle the sauce over the rice and stir gently. If you’re using sesame oil, also add it at this point. See how pleasing the color change is?
Finally, add the chopped cilantro leaves, and part of the green onions.
Stir well and take off heat. To serve, sprinkle with remaining green onions, and a squeeze of lime juice. The sourness of lime juice will really bring out all the flavors in this fried rice.