February 29, 2012

HIPSTER KITCHEN: Fried Rice Without Trying

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Hipsters don’t try. Or do they? I guess that’s one of life’s persistent questions. Either way, I know one thing for sure -— after a long day, making dinner can seem like a Herculean feat, and I certainly don’t always have the strength of will to make a dedicated effort towards preparing myself a meal.

The foodie in me rankles at my unwillingness to try: My work ethic is paltry, but that doesn’t mean my appetite is. And it’s not only that — I can’t bring myself to eat a dinner without protein in it. I don’t know what it is about mothers, but they all seem to have certain food fixations that haunt their children long after leaving the nest (you know how it goes: “Eat your veggies!” “Clean your plate!”) and as it stands, my mother spent the majority of my childhood indoctrinating me on the glories of protein.

As a result, I’m always seeking easy protein fixes. Meat is out, since it takes a while to prepare and good cuts of meat aren’t in the average college-kid budget. The classic vegetarian combination of rice and beans or lentils is great, but too time-consuming for someone who’s just stumbled home at 10 pm and wants to shovel food into his or her mouth immediately. Peanut butter is fantastic, but only rarely can I convince myself that eating spoonfuls of it straight from the jar constitutes “dinner.” Eggs are one of my favorite ways of resolving the issue, and I am a huge fan of breakfast for dinner, but often I want something with more dimension of flavor — something with a lingering umami richness, something that goes beyond the simple egg and toast. Bacon satisfies this craving with greasy and delightful efficiency, but -— as much as it pains me to admit it — I can’t have bacon with every meal.

So here’s my secret: fried rice. It’s quick. It’s delicious. It satisfies the hunger for something savory and substantial. It can be as complicated or as uncomplicated as you choose to make it, and best of all, it has an egg in it! Mmm, protein. (Hi, mom.) As long as you’ve got a little leftover rice in the fridge, you can make this in about five minutes flat.

Fried Rice Without Tryinga Clare Dougan original

This recipe is not so much the be-all-end-all set of instructions for making fried rice as it is a template with which you can experiment to create a dish that works well for you. Don’t hesitate to switch it up!


one-quarter of a yellow onion, finely chopped1 or 2 cloves of garlic, finely choppedvegetables, fresh or frozen, as you see fit (I’m a fan of mushrooms, bell peppers, frozen peas, and chopped canned pineapple, but really anything works)1 – 1.5 cups leftover cooked rice (I’ve always used white, but brown probably works fine too)sesame oilsoy sauceSriracha sauce (I guess it’s pretty obscure, and maybe you haven’t heard of it… just kidding. It’s the hot sauce with the rooster on it, and it’s delicious. you can sub this out for any Asian chili-garlic sauce that suits your tastes)1 egg, beaten

In a large skillet, heat about a tablespoon of canola oil over medium heat. When it is hot, add the onions and garlic as well as any other fresh vegetables you might have. With a wooden spoon, stir for about five minutes or until the onions are slightly translucent and golden. At this point, add any frozen or canned vegetables, and continue to stir until heated through. At this point, add leftover rice and stir until thoroughly coated with oil, being sure to break up any large clumps with the back of the spoon. Now add the sauces: a few drops of sesame oil, about a tablespoon of soy sauce and Sriracha to taste. Stir to incorporate into the rice.

When rice is heated through, move it over to one side of the skillet so there’s open space for the egg. Add the egg, letting it cook as you would an omelet until just barely runny on top, and then mix well to coat the rice. Let cook one more minute, so you don’t get salmonella, and then scoop the whole tasty pile into a bowl. If you’re feeling fancy, garnish with a sprinkling of chopped scallions. Enjoy!

Original Author: Clare Dougan