My favourite recipes are the kind that you can throw together with the odds and ends that are kicking around in the fridge, and that are easily adapted based on what’s on hand.
This fried rice usually shows up on the menu at least once a week, because it’s exactly that kind of recipe.
It’s more of a formula than a recipe, to be honest – as long as you’ve got some leftover rice, a few basic veggies, and a splash of soy sauce on hand, you’re good to go.
It’s positively brilliant for using up that last carrot and the couple of celery ribs that are lingering in the bottom of the crisper, and whatever protein you have hanging around in the fridge or freezer.
The Secret to Perfect Fried Rice
There’s only one secret to making delicious fried rice: using leftover rice!
Sure, you can totally use freshly-cooked rice, but you’ll get much better results using day-old rice. Why? Because fresh rice is still soft, so all that stirring can easily make it go mushy. Cooling the rice off overnight allows it to dry off and seal the outer layer, so that it doesn’t all clump together during the cooking process.
Thankfully, leftover cooked rice isn’t exactly hard to get your hands on. I’ve even been known to deliberately make extra rice just so I have an excuse to make fried rice the next day.
Choosing Your Protein
I used some homemade hot dogs we had kicking around in the freezer, but the beauty of this recipe is that it’s infinitely adaptable.
My protein of choice tends to be based on whatever I happen to have on hand, but here are a few of my favourites:
- Diced cooked ham
- Chopped bacon
- Diced SPAM (yes, SPAM… trust me on this!)
- Chinese cured sausage
- Diced barbecue pork
- Chicken breasts or boneless thighs
- Raw shrimp
If you’re using a cooked protein like ham or hot dogs, you only need to fry it long enough to heat through and brown the outside. However, if you’re using a raw protein like chicken or bacon, make sure it’s cooked thoroughly before you move on to the next step.
Or, for a completely vegetarian option, skip the meat and add an extra egg.
More Ways to Make Takeout at Home
I love me a good Chinese takeout as much as the next gal, but there are benefits to making your own. For one, it’s usually cheaper, and two, you can customize it exactly to your liking, whether it’s less soy, more spice, and better quality veggies and meat.
Here are a few of my current favourites from the blog:
- Healthier Ginger Beef Stir Fry
- Spicy Peanut Butter Noodles
- Coca-Cola Chicken Wings
- Beef and Asparagus Stir Fry
And here are a few more from some of my favourite bloggers:
- Vegan Singapore Noodles from Minimalist Baker
- Kung Pao Chicken from Serious Eats
- Eggplant with Garlic Sauce from Omnivore’s Cookbook
This quick restaurant-style fried rice comes together in half the time it takes to call for takeout. It’s a perfect way to use up leftover cooked rice and whatever protein you have kicking around in the fridge.
- 1/2 cup protein (see Notes)
- 2 tbsp canola oil
- 1 medium carrot, peeled and diced
- 1 stalk celery, diced
- 4 green onions, finely sliced
- 2 tsp grated fresh ginger
- 2 eggs, lightly beaten
- 3 cups cooked white rice
- 1/2 cup frozen peas
- 2 tbsp soy sauce
- 1 tsp sesame oil
- Add the oil to a wok or deep non-stick skillet set over medium-high heat.
- Add your protein and saute until cooked all the way through. (If your protein is already cooked, just saute until warmed through and starting to brown.)
- Stir in the carrots and celery, and saute for 2 minutes. Add the white and light green parts of the green onions (save the dark green parts for later), and stir in the grated ginger. Saute for 1 minute longer, or until fragrant.
- Push the ingredients to one side of the pan and add the eggs. Cook until the eggs start to set, then break them up and stir them into the rest of the ingredients.
- Add the rice and peas, and drizzle with soy sauce and sesame oil. Stir everything together until combined.
- Sprinkle with the remainder of the green onions, and serve immediately.
Choosing Your Protein: Feel free to customize this recipe based on whatever you have on hand. Some options include diced raw chicken (breast or thigh), hot dogs, SPAM, cured sausage, bacon, shrimp, diced ham or even tofu.