By Rhoda Boone. Photos by: Chelsea Kyle, Food Styling by Rhoda Boone.
We've got a lot of fried rice fans around the Epicurious offices, and it's easy to see why. It's one of the fastest, easiest meals to get on your table, especially if you already have cooked rice on hand. My colleague Katherine Sacks' go-to weeknight meal of late is simple but delicious. She makes a couple of batches of brown rice a week, so it's always ready to go in her fridge. To that she adds egg, scallion, sesame seeds, and her favorite Japanese chili oil, and in less than 5 minutes, dinner is ready. And with only one pan required, the clean-up is just as fast. She especially loves fried rice because you can easily make as much or as little as you want.
Joe Sevier, another Epi co-worker, claims you can turn just about anything into fried rice. He particularly likes fried rice for its ability to use up leftovers—he'll heat up almost any vegetable and protein and flavor them with garlic, onion, serranos, soy, fish sauce, and his favorite Asian condiment: Filipino cane vinegar. Then he tops it all off with cilantro and chopped peanuts.
I've started feeling the fried rice love, too, and the dish seemed like the perfect fit for our roster of Takeout at Home dishes—classic takeout favorites translated for home cooks—so I decided to develop a new recipe. First, I thought about the rice. The best kind of rice to use is a medium- or long-grain variety (I like aromatic basmati or jasmine). Short-grain rice tends to be stickier, and you want fried rice with fluffy, individual grains of rice rather than clumps. It also helps to rinse the rice before cooking to remove some of the starch, which contributes to stickiness.
Another secret to the best fried rice possible is to use day-old rice. Freshly cooked rice contains a lot of moisture, which makes it hard to achieve the crispy texture that's so addictive in fried rice. Cooking the rice in advance is win-win, since the texture is better for frying and half your meal prep is already done when it comes time to make dinner, but if you don't have leftover rice in your fridge and want fried rice now, cook a batch of rice, then spread it out on a rimmed baking sheet to cool, tossing it every once in a while. The steam will escape from the rice and dry it out more than if you left it in the pot (just don't leave your rice out at room temperature for more than one hour for food safety reasons). Even better, stick that baking sheet in the freezer for 15-20 minutes, then transfer the rice to a resealable bag to freeze for a couple of hours, which will help dry it out in a hurry.
Since fried rice is inherently fast, I decided to take on the 22-Minute challenge and see if I could pull this dish together in less time than it would take to get Chinese food delivery. My new recipe uses thinly sliced chicken along with a ton of green vegetables for a rendition that's fresher, brighter, and healthier than the usual takeout. I kept the usual soy, but was inspired by a good friend who adds orange juice to his fried rice for acidity and a little sweetness. Here's a minute-by-minute guide to getting this meal on the table:
One hack I have for weeknight meals is to prep all my vegetables first, then deal with any raw meat, so I only have to wash my cutting board once. Having everything ready to go before the gas clicks on is especially important when making stir-fries or fried rice. Start by slicing the scallions and trimming the broccolini. Grate the garlic and ginger and slice the orange in half to get it ready for juicing, then give it a squeeze. Measure out the snow peas and edamame here, too. Finally, slice the chicken cutlets into quick-cooking. 1/2-inch pieces and you're good to go!
Are you ready? Are you sure? Ok, let's get started: Heat some oil in a large nonstick skillet over high (cast-iron or a wok works, too). Set a couple of tablespoons of sliced scallion greens aside for garnish and add the rest to the oil and cook for about a minute. Then add the chicken, salt, and pepper and cook, stirring, about 2 minutes. Stir in the garlic and ginger to coat the chicken, then add broccolini and give it a toss. Cover the pan to steam the broccolini until tender while letting the chicken cook through, and then transfer the mixture to a large bowl.
Heat the rest of the oil, then toss in the rice and a little more salt. Press the rice into the pan in a single layer with a spatula and whatever you do, don't touch it! Let it sit undisturbed for at least 2 minutes so it gets nice and crispy on the bottom (use this time to crack and beat the eggs). Then scoot the rice over to one side of the skillet and add eggs to other half. My recipe calls for 3 eggs because the eggs are actually my favorite part. Cook, stirring gently, until soft-set and just cooked through, then fold the eggs into the rice.
Add the snow peas, edamame, soy sauce, and orange juice. Cook, tossing, until warmed through, about 1 minute. Then add the chicken and broccolini back in and toss to combine. Top with those scallion greens you set aside, drizzle with chili or sesame oil if you'd like, and enjoy!
Get this recipe: Easy Fried Rice with Chicken and Broccolini
This story originally appeared on Epicurious.
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