Quick Meal Fix – Fried Rice Attack!
One food item no Peace Corps volunteer in the Philippines will ever suffer from lack of is rice. My Filipino co-workers have never let me live down one Facebook update where I suggested I was under assault – “Rice Attack!!” They like the joke and also enjoy inquiring about my rice eating habits.
The Philippines is built around rice. Any food eaten without rice can only be considered a snack. No rice? Not full!
When I first arrived in country I was waiting for the day I would reach my rice limit. I imagined it would play out like a thermometer where each bite would gradually raise the bar until there was simply room for no more. However, it’s been 15 months and I’m still eating it. In fact sometimes I even crave it – an unforeseen plot twist!! The rice patty thickens…
Most volunteers I know actually own rice cookers. I was once gifted a rice cooker, however the gift-giver innocently forgot to include the electrical cord. It now lives in the cupboard under the stairs. It is my Harry Potter. Because of this I sometimes I kick it old school and go stove-top, but most of the time I lazily buy cooked rice from food vendors.
Not having the Filipino stomach for rice means that I usually have plenty left over. I’m often left with little, lost bags of cooked rice scattered throughout my fridge. There was a time when this was just a holding area before the trash. Leftover rice is not as tasty as it is fresh. It can get dried out and it simply looses the rice-iness you expect. Technical term: rice-iness.
In order not to be wasteful it is important to find a way to jazz it up a bit. I am not the first person to realize this – hence the conception of fried rice! It is the cottage pie of Asia. A dish in which all of our leftovers can thrive again in a delicious creation of…whatever you have lying around. Fried rice isn’t picky. Frankly, it has low standards.
This is also a really quick meal. Meaning, in its simplest form, you can go from prep to plate in about 15 minutes. It just depends on how complicated you want to get. I’ve set up an ingredients list that is flexible with vegetable and meat categories from which you can pick and choose – or branch out on your own. Just because it’s not listed doesn’t mean it doesn’t go!
You will notice a lot of the ingredients are optional. Choose with the hedonism of your taste buds. They know what they like.
Ingredients (makes 1-2 servings):
- 1 cup leftover rice – if using fresh, let it cool.
- 1 tbsp canola oil – or other flavorless cooking oil
- 2 eggs lightly beaten
- 4-5 Green onions sliced (whites & 2in of greens) OR 1 small red onion diced
- +/- 1tbsp of soy sauce (to taste)
- Leftover meat or vegetables (optional)- anything pre-cooked like corn kernels or leftover barbeque. You can also chop and cook before hand if you don’t have anything lying around . See options at the end for more ideas.
- Toasted sesame oil (optional)
- Fresh crushed, hot chillies OR cayenne (optional)
There are so many options for this dish. Below, find some ideas you can consider. This is an abbreviated list. Use your leftovers and creativity!
Chef’s Tip: try not to add more than three meats & vegetables – otherwise the dish starts to seem a little overwhelmed.
Vegetables Ideas: remember these should be pre-cooked before you add them to the pan.
- Corn kernels sliced off the cob
- Sliced green beans
- Diced carrots
- Canned vegis (not ideal, but they work!)
- Diced eggplant
- Diced squash
Meat Ideas: remember these should be pre-cooked before you add them to the pan.
- Leftover BBQ – like chicken or pork. They work great if your eyes ended up buying more than your stomach could handle
- Lechon manok (rotisserie chicken) – just shred into a bowl using your fingers
- Bring house! – This goes by many different names in the Philippines, but if some kind soul sends you home with a bag of food from their party this is an easy way to use it beyond just reheating.
Enjoy and please share any fried rice revelations your encounter!