Vegetable Fried Rice is such a simple, but versatile dish. I love making it at home because I get to control the amount of fat and other ingredients, plus I can load it up with all kinds of vegetables. Most of all, fried rice is a perfect way to turn last night's leftovers into a brand new, delicious dinner.
Why Use Leftovers?
The best thing about leftover rice is fried rice. Don't discard that leftover rice! Leftover rice makes the best fried rice. Because, as the cooked rice sits in the fridge, it dries out a little. Then the grains become nicely separated. Which sets the perfect stage for making a delicious, fried rice dish.
I like to make extra rice when I cook these yummy Cajun Red Beans & Rice, so there is some left for fried rice. Even If you don't have leftover rice, it's worthwhile to cook some rice ahead of time, let it cool, and then sit in the fridge for a least a few hours, if not overnight. And, to be honest, if you try making this with freshly cooked rice, you will end up with a sticky, mushy mess. I don't recommend it.
Any cooked rice, brown or white, will work for making this dish. My favourite is basmati, but jasmine or just plain long grain works just as well.
Use Whatever's In the Fridge For Fried Rice
Vegetable fried rice is a pretty simple dish. But you have to plan ahead just a little here. The flavours of ginger and garlic, plus soy and sesame, really make this dish shine. And adding tofu makes it a complete meal. If you aren't vegetarian, you can sub the tofu for chicken, or any leftover meat that you have. The best fried rice is when you have to make do with what you have in the fridge.
You can use all kinds of veggies, fresh or frozen, and in fact, frozen peas are what I'm using here. Mixed frozen peas and carrots work really well, too. If you have leftover cooked veggies, all the better for a true leftover masterpiece. Just about any vegetable will work, except maybe potatoes. But, try sweet potato cubes, cauliflower, zucchini, carrots, or mushrooms.
You can also crack an egg and scramble it up into your rice, as I often do, for extra protein, texture, and flavour. Sometimes I even like to add some chopped peanuts or cashews if I have them.
Cookware & Prep
A wok is ideal for making fried rice, but any large skillet will work, too. I have found that non-stick skillets still need some oil to give the rice the right "fried" texture. Peanut oil is ideal here for its low smoking point. Have all of your ingredients ready and close at hand when you begin.
Fried Rice – Vegetable Fried Rice Recipe
- 2 tbsp peanut or corn oil
- 1 medium onion diced
- 1 red bell pepper cored, seeded and diced
- 1 cup firm tofu cubed
- 2 tbsp minced garlic
- 2 tbsp minced ginger
- 4 cups cooked rice
- 1 cup frozen peas thawed
- ¼ cup vegetable stock
- 2 tbsp soy sauce
- 1 tbsp sesame oil
- 1 tsp fish sauce
- ¼ cup chopped cilantro
- Heat 1 tbsp of the oil in a wok over high heat.
- Add onion and bell pepper, cooking and stirring until softened, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a plate.
- Add tofu to wok and cook, stirring, until browned on all sides. Transfer to the plate with the vegetables.
- Add remaining oil to the wok.
- Add ginger and garlic, then rice, breaking up any clumps with a fork
- Cook, stirring, until rice is separated and lightly browned. Add stock, wine, or water, and cook, stirring for about one minute.
- Add soy sauce, sesame oil, and fish sauce, stirring until everything is coated and very hot.
- Remove from heat, stir in cilantro, parsley, or green onion.