It’s amazing how substituting one item in a common comforting meal can completely change how you feel about it. Fried rice has always been a favorite cold weather meal of mine, but I never really took the time to see how it’s made. I suppose I just assumed that my home could never replicate some of the more subtle flavors in this complex dish. Then a few years ago when I essentially swore off all refined foods and simple carbohydrates like white bread and white rice, I had a falling out with my beloved Chinese take out too. Helping fill my rice void, I moved on to the texturally more complex and robust, brown rice. Its nutty flavor and dense chew isn’t for everyone, but once incorporated into your regular meals, it really grows on you.
I’ve had brown sushi rice at many teriyaki joints, but I’ve never really tackled it at home. That all changed when a rice cooker came into my life! With my new-found confidence in making sushi rice at home, I slowly started expanding the recipes that I could substitute it in. As with any healthy substitutions, you are going to lose something along the way, sometimes its just familiarity with a texture or flavor. This is perhaps the one substitution I have made with brown rice that I think I actually prefer. No joke, this stuff is fantastic. It’s just a bonus that brown rice is also a healthy complex carb.
For this recipe, and all fried rice recipes, you must use short grain rice. An old trick I once learned ages ago, was that it helps to have pre-cooked and preferably day old rice. The rice granules will dry out slightly, but they will also not turn to mush when stir frying. You want all the grains of rice to be little individuals here! I knew a few days ahead of time that I wanted to make fried rice last weekend, so two days before I went ahead and made enough brown rice for this recipe, and a few small portions for lunches at work.
I always wash my dry rice out a few times until the water becomes mostly clear, this helps remove excess starch and prevents the rice from becoming mushy glutinous slop. The texture of the rice is very important, so you’ll need to rinse it several times before you steam it. After that, its best to follow the cooking instructions directed on the rice bag or cooker. Some brands vary, I’ve seen everywhere from a 3:1 water to rice ratio, to a recipe that only uses 15% more water than rice. My rice cooker happens to fall under the 3:1 ratio and this batch came out perfect!
It seems obvious that I would use bacon in my fried rice, as this blog is basically dedicated to its greatness. However, this decision only came about when I forgot to grab pork loin on my way home from work Friday.
Freedom was just too damn exciting clearly!
I had to move onto plan B(acon).
On a related note, I am sometimes stricken with super laziness and the store a mile down the road was too far and my pj’s were quite comfortable at the time. I had bacon in the fridge, and I have made fried rice with bacon before and it happens to be quite delicious in this preparation. Sometimes things just work out that awesome, what can you say, bacon saved the day!
The topping of a fried or sunny side up egg is something that has only come to me in the past year or so, as I have become more and more obsessed with putting eggs with runny yolks on EVERYTHING.
Yes, I am afraid I am one of those people…I am not sorry.
Eggs are delicious and a great source of protein, and I will eat them until I die. With that out of the way, lets get on with the recipe, shall we?
- 4 cups of pre-cooked brown rice (preferably a day old)
- 4 strips of uncured bacon (chopped)
- 4 Eggs (3 scrambled, set one aside for frying sunny side up later)
- 1 Tbsp of fresh chopped ginger
- 1 Tbsp of fresh chopped garlic
- 1 Tbsp of toasted sesame oil
- 1 Tbsp of rice vinegar
- 2 Tbsp of vegetable oil
- 3 Tbsp of soy sauce (or to taste)
- 1/4 cup chopped white onions
- 1/4 cup peas (I used frozen)
- 1/4 cup of chopped carrots
- 1/4 cup of chopped scallions (omitted in this recipes, but can be substituted for the white onions)
- 1 tsp fresh cracked black pepper
- 1 Tbsp chili garlic sauce (or sriracha…or both)
- 1 pinch of salt
DIRECTIONS: (serves 3-5)
- With fast cooking preparations such as this, its extremely helpful to have all of your ingredients measured out and prepped/chopped before you put the wok on the fire.
- When everything is prepped get your wok on a burner turned up to medium high and put in 1 tablespoon of the vegetable oil. When the oil is heated and viscous, gently toss in the chopped bacon and stir fry until nearly fully cooked, about 3 minutes.
- At this stage, add your white onions, garlic, ginger and sesame oil and keep stirring until they become toasted and fragrant, about 2 minutes.
- When they begin to turn golden, dump all of the cooked brown rice into the wok and stir to mix in the fried bacon, ginger, garlic and onions.
- After stirring in and browning the rice for 2 minutes, add the carrots and peas to the wok and continue to stir for 1 minute.
- Once the peas and carrots are mixed in, add the soy sauce, rice vinegar and chili garlic sauce, mix in well.
- Continue to cook for another minute then push the fried rice mixture to the sides, leaving an open well in the middle, the hottest part of the wok. Pour in the last tablespoon of vegetable oil and once heated, pour in the 3 scrambled eggs.
- Stir the eggs in the well until scrambled and nearly firm, then mix the eggs into the rest of the fried rice until fully incorporated.
- Once fully incorporated, turn the stove top burner up slightly and allow some charring and toasting of rice kernels For those of you using an electric stove top burner like myself, move along to step 11, making a sunny side up egg! For those working on an open flame burner, congrats, you get to impart my favorite taste and smell aspects of good restaurant fried rice. Wok Hei!
- (From Wikipedia) To impart wok hei, the food must be cooked in a seasoned wok over a high flame while being stirred and tossed quickly. For this reason it requires cooking over an open flame rather than an electric stove. In practical terms, the flavor imparted by chemical compounds results from caramelization, Maillard reactions, and the partial combustion of oil that come from charring and searing of the food at very high heat in excess of 200 °C (392 °F). Aside from flavor there is also the texture of the cooked items and smell involved that describes wok hei.
- Once the fried rice is done, remove from heat and get the final piece started, the sunny side up egg! Heat a non-stick frying pan over medium-medium high heat and spray with Pam just for precaution. Once the pan is heated, crack an egg into a bowl first. This gives you the chance to ensure the yolk doesn’t break and that no shell makes it into the pan. Once its cleared by your close inspection, gently pour into heated frying pan. One of my helpful tips for sunny side eggs, as opposed to fried over easy eggs, is to have water steam the top as the bottom cook. To do this, wait until the egg is nearly opaque, but still quite runny on top (including the whites), then pour in 2 tablespoons of water into the pan (not directly on top of the eggs) and quickly cover with a lid. Let steam for about 30-45 seconds then remove and allow the rest of the water to evaporate. When the egg yolk is still runny and the white are solid, slide over a warm bowl of your bacon fried brown rice and enjoy!