Somehow, somewhere along the line I started eating Asian food. I’m not really sure when it occurred, but it intersects with an interest in The Big Bang Theory. For those of you unaware of the show, it’s about a bunch of exceptionally gifted, geeky scientists who one-up each other with sciency facts while eating Asian takeout in their living room. A cute blond moves in across the hall and she brilliantly challenges their world with a complete lack of science understanding, a disruption to their status quo, and pop culture references.
There’s a lot more to the show than my watered down description. It’s great – very binge worthy – and suddenly I craved Asian food with every 22 minute episode. But here’s the thing: I detest Chinese takeout, which is all I could ever get in Chicagoland Suburbia. It tastes processed, is full of MSG, and just does nothing for me. When I worked in the city, I became forever spoiled by a lovely little joint called Tamarind down from one of my client’s buildings. We went there at least twice a month, and I forever more cannot eat bad Asian food despite the fact that the restaurant is now closed. Now that I live in the Northwoods, my options are relegated to an all-you-can-eat “Oriental Kitchen” in Rhinelander, which is not going to cut it. Ever.
Since I can now add “Asian takeout” to my lists of snobbery (they also include wine, spirits, and coffee), I scoured the internet for a simple, approachable solution. Enter Seonkyoung Longest at Asian at Home. If you want to cook authentic, fresh, delicious Asian food as it’s meant to be created, then check her out. Her creations are OUTSTANDING. My Chicken Fried Rice recipe is adapted from her chinese fried rice, but I made a several changes to it after trying it out on some friends a few times.
I mentioned my rice cooker awhile back and the fact that it steams vegetables and cooks eggs to perfection. Well let me tell you…it makes cooking rice an absolute joy. Along the way I’ve learned a few tips though…primarily, rinse your rice. That gets any dust and extra starch off the rice so it cooks up fluffier and less sticky. Also – spray the nonstick container with a little cooking spray before you begin. At first the rice stuck to the bottom, but now that I rinse it and give it a tiny spray it comes out perfectly every time. For this particular recipe, be sure to make your rice a day before you make it. Doing that allows it to dry out just a bit so it absorbs the sauce better. Another key tip – line your ingredients up next to your wok or large frying pan. The cooking part of this comes together in no time; in fact, I’d say the chopping and prep takes longer than the actual cooking. So be sure everything is ready to go. This rice is perfect for a crowd or for a small family. I make a crapload of it because it’s great for company and the leftovers are divine. You can easily scale this up or down, but the recipe as is makes quite a large amount. The addition of fresh ginger gives the dish a bit more brightness, and a little chili paste mixed in with the soy sauce gives things a tiny but necessary bit of spice. Feel free to add whatever vegetables you like to the rice. Traditional fried rice veggies include onion, carrot, garlic, and green onion as a garnish, but get creative! I made this for neighbors and added a bunch of asparagus. I’d add cabbage to it, too. Broccoli would be good! And if you’re a strict paleo eater, then sub cauliflower rice for the jasmine rice. I’d personally make it that way more often, but most people in these parts like their rice. I blather on about how grateful I am for all of you, and I truly mean it. There’s no greater compliment when I receive a text or message or someone stops me on the street (amazingly, it’s happened!) to say that they made one of my concoctions and loved it. So as a token of my appreciation, I’m going to give away one of these lovely rice cookers to you beautiful readers. To enter your name, follow the rafflecopter instructions below. You may enter up to five times by sharing this post on Facebook, liking Aperitif Friday on Facebook, following me on instagram or twitter, or by commenting below. Winners will be chosen randomly and will be announced on Tuesday, May 9th. a Rafflecopter giveaway Much love to you all. If your people like fried rice takeout, they’ll LOVE this version! Cheers! Jen
- 1.5 to 1.75 lb boneless skinless chicken thighs, cut into ½ inch cubes
- Cooking oil (I used coconut oil)
- 1.5 cup diced carrot
- 1.5 cup diced onion
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
- 3 eggs, whisked
- 4 cups cooked jasmine rice (2 cups uncooked), a day old
- 1 T minced fresh ginger
- 1 cup frozen peas
- ½ cup soy sauce mixed with 1 T garlic chili paste (optional)
- Sesame Seeds
- A bunch of green onions, sliced
- In a wok or large frying pan, heat the oil over medium-high heat.
- Add the chicken, carrot and onion. Cook for 5-7 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked through (turn heat down if the ingredients start to burn).
- Add the garlic and cook for another minute or two.
- Move the ingredients to the side of the pan and add the eggs. Scramble them.
- Add the rice, peas, ginger and sauce. Continue stir frying for another minute or two, or until all the sauce is absorbed by the rice and other ingredients.
- Serve immediately, garnishing with sesame seeds and sliced green onion.