October 24, 2011

Vegetable Fried Rice

Remember last month when I said I was going to post a weeknight meal that can be made in 30 minutes or less every week?  Well, the "every week" thing hasn't really worked out, but I'm not giving up yet--especially when I have a recipe that is so fast, and so easy, and so good.

Slight detour: I wish you could see me right now.  I'm sitting here, minding my own business, and my cat comes over and sits on my hands.  My hands!  He goes over the arms, hunkers down and traps me.  Then he looks at me like, "oh, hello, I didn't see you there."  This is my life.

And we're back.

This vegetable fried rice comes together in the time it takes to make rice, so about 25 minutes.  It would be even faster if you made the rice ahead of time and you just had to throw it together in a pan.  In fact, general wisdom is that fried rice is actually better with day-old rice because it's a little dried out.  That takes some planning though, and I didn't think that far ahead.  

The trick to this is not to start anything until the rice is all the way done.  I mean it.  Don't try to make this take longer than it needs to.  Once the rice is done, you will stand in front of your stove for a maximum of 8 minutes.  True story.  

Once the rice is done, then and only then, heat a large non-stick skillet over high heat until it's screaming hot.  Like, irresponsibly hot.  Pour some canola oil in the pan then add the vegetables.  For this I used baby corn...

...mushrooms and snow peas.  You could use any combination of vegetables that your heart desires.  

I tossed the veggies so that they all had a chance to touch the hot pan, then I left it alone for 1 minute so that they got nice and dark.  Then I tossed them again and left for 1 more minute.  Finally, I tossed them once more and cooked for 1 more minute.  I just wanted them to be nice and caramelized on the outside but still retain some of their fresh-veggie-crunch.  

After those three minutes, I added my "sauce."  I threw on some soy sauce, sesame oil, lime juice and quite a bit of Sriracha because it's my favorite ingredient, and tossed so that all the vegetables were covered in sauce.

Next, I added my cooked rice in an even layer over the vegetables.

I let that sit for no apparent culinary reason other than I liked the way it looked, kind of like a rice fritatta, then I mixed it all together.

The rice absorbed most of the sauce and the vegetables stayed nice and crisp.

So let's review.  Rice cooks for 25 minutes.  That means you bring water to a boil, add rice, reduce heat, walk away, watch Glee.  That hardly counts as cooking time.  Then, when the rice is finished, turn off the heat and let it sit while you prepare the vegetables in five minutes or less.  Add rice, stir, serve.  It really doesn't get much easier or quicker than this.

I sliced up an avocado because I had one on hand and served with additional lime wedges.  See that baby corn all caramelized?  That's good.  

The veggies in this were simple and delicious and still retained some of their crunch, which was perfect.  The rice soaked up the sauce, which had a little kick to it, and the lime juice was a nice subtle touch.

Not that this is a crucial step, but I love avocado on hot dishes.  I think the contrast between steaming hot rice and cool, creamy avocado is fantastic.  You should add avocado.  Put it on pasta too!  Do it.

So, if you like to cook, and you want to cook, but you don't think you have time, stop that right now.  Turn on Glee, cook some rice, and eat a nice meal!  You totally have time.

Here's the recipe:

Vegetable Fried Rice

  • 2 cups cooked rice (made from 1 cup dry rice and 2 cups liquid, either water or stock)
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 1 1/2 cup roughly chopped baby corn
  • 1 1/2 cup snow peas
  • 1 1/2 cup sliced baby bella mushrooms
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup Sesame oil
  • 3 tablespoons Sriracha (less if you can't handle the spice)
  • lime juice from 1 lime
  • Avocado and additional lime wedges for serving
  1. Cook rice according to package instructions.  I typically bring 2 cups chicken broth to a boil, add 1 cup of rice, stir once, cover with a tight fitting lid and reduce heat to low.  I let it simmer for 25 minutes until all the liquid is absorbed then I turn off the heat and let it sit until I'm ready for it.
  2. Heat canola oil in a large skillet over high heat.  Once oil is shimmering but not smoking, add baby corn, snow peas and mushrooms.  Toss to combine and let sit for 1 minute.  Toss again and let sit for 1 minute.  Toss one more time and let sit for 1 more minute.  Vegetables should be caramelized on the outside but not cooked so much that they are limp.
  3. Add soy sauce, sesame oil, Sriracha and lime juice and toss to combine.
  4. Add rice and mix.  Let sit for about a minute so the rice can absorb the sauce.  
  5. Serve with avocado slices and lime wedges.

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