Some months are busier than others, and this has been a busy month. A traveling husband, a busy season on the blog, chores that know no end, and three blessings who always keep me on my toes no matter what the day of the week it is.
(What’s this you call a weekend? Time off, what?).
At the beginning of the month, I sat down and planned simple meals that would come together in about thirty minutes or less. My idea of a good meal plan in a busy season is one that is quick, yes, but also delicious and appealing. Otherwise, if I’ve planned meals that I don’t actually feel like eating, we will just end up going for convenience foods that satisfy the craving of the moment.
Of course, I also give myself the buffer of stocking the freezer with nitrate-free hot dogs and frozen potstickers from my favorite warehouse store.
This fried rice dish fits that bill.
It’s a recipe that is one which is the result of a lot of trial and error. Over the years, I’ve learned a little about how to make a good fried rice dish. I’ve served up plenty of ho-hum dishes, plenty of overcooked meat, and plenty of vegetables that were either too hard or too mushy. I finally have it down.
The components are cooked individually. This ensures plenty of contact with the hot pan, which is essential when cooking food over higher heat in a short amount of time.
P.S. This is a 30-minute meal as long as you have cooked the rice ahead of time. You can cook it a day or two in advance, maybe make a double batch and then set aside some for this meal. The rice should be cool, not hot, when you put it in the pan to fry. We prefer brown rice for health and taste, and baking it in the oven is the only way I make it now. The rice consistently turns out perfect and it just requires about 5 minutes of hands-on prep, then an hour to cook in the oven. Easy peasy.
P.P.S. Sesame oil. Perhaps something you don’t have already in your kitchen, but it’s pretty essential to getting the right flavor in a good fried rice or lo mein dish. Splurge (a little) on a bottle and it will last you many nights of healthier-than-take-out Chinese dishes.
P.P.P.S. (Because I can’t stop with the addendums tonight). When I took these pictures, I used venison medallions. I’ve also used flank steak and chicken breasts. The vegetables are also rather interchangeable. Just pick vegetables with a similar hardiness.
30 Minute Fried Rice
- 1 lb meat (chicken breast, flank steak, venison…)
- soy sauce, divided
- 1/2 yellow onion
- 3 whole carrots
- 2 C broccolini
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 egg
- 4 C cooked brown rice, precooked and chilled
- sesame oil
- olive oil
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 1 tsp ground ginger
- 1/2 tsp onion powder
1. Slice the protein of choice into thin strips, about 1/2 inch thick and 2-3 inches long. Mix together the garlic powder, ground ginger, and onion powder in a small dish. Sprinkle half the spice mixture over the sliced meat. Transfer the meat to a small bowl. Add 1/4 C soy sauce and toss with a fork to coat. Set the meat aside while you prepare the remaining ingredients, tossing with the fork occasionally.
2. Prepare the vegetables. Slice the onion in half from end to end. Lay flat on a cutting board, then slice thin strips from end to end. Rotate the strips and cut in half.
Peel the carrots and cut them into 2 inch segments. Slice into thin strips. (A julienne slicer makes quick work of this!).
Chop the stalks of the broccolini into 1/2 inch chunks. Leave the tops of the broccolini uncut unless there is a large piece you want to separate by hand.
Combine all the prepared vegetables in a bowl.
3. Gather remaining ingredients. Gather all the ingredients and place them near the stovetop where you will be cooking. The process goes quickly, so you don’t want to overcook on ingredient or scorch the pan because you have to look for something. You should have (in order of need) the olive oil and sesame oil, meat, vegetables, spice mixture, garlic, one egg (scrambled), and brown rice. You will also need a clean bowl to transfer the meat into once it’s browned.
4. Make the fried rice. The total cooking time is 10 to 15 minutes, broken up into short segments. The ingredients are cooked on medium to medium-high heat. This helps them to cook quickly and achieve a nice brown exterior. Use a timer if you have one.
- Heat a nonstick pan over medium-high heat for a few minutes until it is quite hot. Add the sliced meat to the pan, leaving the soy sauce and any other liquid in the bowl. It is important to not dump a lot of liquid into the pan because you want to quickly cook the meat without a boiling effect. Cook the meat over medium-high for two minutes until it is browned on all sides. The meat can overcook quickly at such a high heat so using a timer is helpful. (If you sliced your meat more thickly, or if you are using chicken, you may need to extend the cooking time for one to two minutes). Remove the meat to a clean bowl.
- Reheat the pan over medium-high heat for two minutes. Add 1 teaspoon olive oil and 1 tsp sesame oil to the pan. Dump the vegetables into the pan. Add another teaspoon of each olive oil and sesame oil on top of the vegetables. Sprinkle the remaining spice blend evenly across. Stir to mix. Cook over medium-high heat for 2 minutes. Stir. Then cover and cook for 2 more minutes. Uncover, add 1/4 C soy sauce and the minced garlic, stir, and then recover the pan and cook for 1 more minute. The vegetables should be browned and fork tender. Return to their original bowl.
- Reduce heat to medium. Add 1 teaspoon olive oil. Pour in scrambled egg and immediately cover the pan. Cook for 1 minute. Don’t stir the egg. Remove the egg to a cutting board to cool. When the egg is cool enough to handle, roll the egg in a tight log and slice thinly.
- With the heat still at medium, add another teaspoon each of olive oil and sesame oil. Dump the chilled rice into the pan and press down evenly across the bottom of the pan. Cook for 2 minutes. Stir.
6. Return the meat, vegetables, and egg to the pan. Stir to combine and reheat.
7. Serve with extra soy sauce if desired.