Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Fried Rice

One of the things missing from a lot of cooking advice is the idea that you should be a good steward of the environment (not to mention your personal finances) by trying to maximize the yield of your weekly grocery purchase; which is to say that you should try to use up what you've got before it spoils or you grow weary of seeing it every time you peer inside the fridge.

Fried rice is great for this. You can use virtually anything that's lying around, and, if you keep the meat separate, create something that's acceptable to vegetarians like the BG. The secret to good fried rice is to use leftover rice that's had a chance to sit in the fridge for awhile. I forget why, but there's some science behind it, and, trust me, it works. The other thing to keep in mind is that woks are not designed for the average kitchen stove. As America's Test Kitchen says

"The traditional wok is designed to sit in an open cooking pit with flames licking the sides of the vessel. Of course, on a flat American stovetop, a round wok wobbles and has little direct contact with the heat source. For these reasons, we prefer a 12-inch nonstick skillet for stir-frying."

So yesterday I was planning to make some fried rice using some leftover cooked shrimp from the other night and a few stray cubes of pineapple that I knew were in the fridge. Finding that the BG had eaten these as an after school snack, I substituted frozen mango chunks, which we always have around for smoothies. I also tossed in some butter and chopped green onions (the bottoms were going into my herb garden) at the end, which, though I think the butter is non-traditional, seems to make it more kid-friendly, and, in all honesty, tastes better. I'll list the vegetables I used in the recipe, but anything will work.

Mango Fried Rice

Heat some cooking oil in a large flat-bottom skillet. Gently fry chopped onions and carrots until soft (3-5 min). Add 2 minced cloves of garlic and a small piece of ginger, zested. After 30 seconds, add 2 cups of cooked rice, stirring to coat with the oil. Add 2 tbs of soy sauce, a dash of Sriracha (or tabasco, or a pinch of cayenne), a handful of frozen peas, a bowl of frozen mango chunks, chopped into quarters, a couple of pinches of salt, and a tbs of butter. Cook over low heat until everything is heated through, adding a little water or more butter if the rice starts to stick. Serve with chopped green onions, reheated shrimp on the side (or toss them in with the peas if that works for your crew).

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