Friday, March 23, 2007

Basic Fried Rice Recipe

This versatile recipe, with variations, shows you how to make a full, satisfying meal from any kind of leftover rice. Just one thing: Freshly cooked rice is too moist to achieve the right texture when fried. A night in the fridge is ideal, but a few hours will do the trick if you just can't wait.

Servings: 4


* 2 teaspoons vegetable oil, divided
* 3 eggs, beaten
* 2 strips bacon, cut crosswise into 1/4-inch slices
* 4 scallions, trimmed and sliced into 1/4-inch rings (reserve 1 heaping tablespoon sliced dark green portion for garnish)
* 1 tablespoon minced garlic (about 2 cloves)
* 1 tablespoon minced ginger (about a 1-inch piece)
* 1/3 cup finely chopped carrot (1-2 carrots)
* 1-2 fresh chilies like jalapenos or Thai chilies, to taste, seeded and minced (optional)
* 4 cups cooked rice, at room temperature
* 2-3 tablespoons soy sauce


In a large skillet or wok, heat 1 teaspoon of the vegetable oil over medium-high heat for 2 minutes. Pour the beaten egg into the pan and swirl the egg around to coat the entire bottom of the pan. When the egg is beginning to bubble, about 1-2 minutes, break it up into pieces using a spatula or wooden spoon, and remove from pan.

Add the remaining 1 teaspoon of oil to the pan over medium-high heat. Add the bacon and cook until crisp, 2 to 3 minutes. (If the bacon begins to burn, lower the heat to medium.)

Add the scallions, garlic, ginger, carrot and (if using) chilies to the pan and cook, stirring often, 1 to 2 minutes, or until the garlic becomes golden. Return the cooked egg to the pan.

Add the rice and stir to coat well with the other ingredients. Cook for about 2 minutes to allow the rice and egg to become hot. Turn the heat down to medium-low and pour the soy sauce over the rice. The pan may be quite full (depending on its size), so stir carefully to allow even distribution of soy sauce throughout the rice.

Taste for salt, and add an additional 1 tablespoon of soy sauce if you like. Sprinkle with the reserved dark green scallion slices to serve.


* Add chopped raw shrimp (1/4 to 1/3 pound) 1 minute after adding the scallions, garlic, ginger and carrot.
* Add small cubes of firm tofu (about 1/2 cup) 1 minute after adding the scallions, garlic, ginger and carrot.
* Stir in small pieces of leftover cooked chicken just before adding the rice to the pan.
* For a mellower pork flavor, try pancetta instead of bacon.
* For Thai-style fried rice, sprinkle 1 tablespoon of Thai fish sauce over the mixture before returning the egg to the pan, and squeeze the juice from half a lime over the rice just before serving.
* To get more of your vegetables, slice raw green beans (about 1/4 to 1/3 cup) very thin (1/8 inch) and add them along with the scallions, garlic, ginger and carrot.

Marinated Chicken Breasts

Servings: 8


* 1/2 cup broth
* 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
* 3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
* 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
* 1/2 minced garlic cloves or 1 to 2 teaspoons garlic powder
* 2 teaspoons sugar
* 1 teaspoon crushed thyme
* 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
* Salt to taste
* 2 pounds chicken breasts, boned and skinned (8 halves)


Place all of the ingredients except the chicken breasts in a jar with a tight-fitting lid and shake well. Rinse the chicken breasts and pat dry with paper towels. Place the chicken and marinade in a locking plastic bag, making sure the chicken is coated well (using a bag saves on cleanup, but a shallow dish works just as well). Marinate the chicken in the refrigerator for several hours, turning occasionally.

Prepare the outdoor grill or preheat the broiler or a stovetop grill pan. Grill the chicken or place under the broiler for about 10 minutes per side. Cooking time will vary depending on the thickness of the chicken. The chicken is done when the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees using an instant-read thermometer. Discard the marinade.