Fried Rice Revolution :: Six Creative Variations of a Classic

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My family is all about the leftovers. Since I typically batch cook each week, we end up eating leftovers for the majority of our meals and it’s fabulous. However, I noticed that by the end of the week, we would all get a little bit of fatigue from having the same three to four meals over and over again.

Enter our fried rice revolution. 

My youngest has been a fried rice fiend since he was old enough to chew. His affinity for the stuff has only grown over time. He repeatedly requests fried rice for his birthday dinner. I learned how to make a fairly standard, Asian-inspired fried rice at home that is pretty good. 

For our at-home version, I use a basic “non-recipe” recipe: 

  1. Melt lots of butter a big skillet.
  2. Add any veggies we already have (they’re often already roasted or steamed, but I’ll toss in freshly cut onions or peppers if I have any as well.)
  3. Cut meat (or use ground meat) that is already cooked (such as grilled chicken) and add it to the skillet. 
  4. Use at least day-old rice for the main ingredient. 
  5. Season with salt, pepper, and some soy sauce for a final touch. 

Ta-da! Leftovers become something new. 

While big fans of our usual fried rice, my kids like to get creative, and as such we have made several variations of fried rice, using different flavor profiles. I still use the same basic routine when it comes to cooking, but I change up the ingredients and seasonings to match whatever leftovers we have or whatever we’re craving.

  1. Greek Fried Rice: Any grilled or roasted meat works well for this, but I prefer a Middle-Eastern chicken recipe I use from NY Times Cooking if I have it. For this variation, I use basmati rice, zucchini for the vegetables, and add parsley, garlic, oregano, and lemon. 
  2. Taco Rice: A great way to stretch leftover taco meat a little farther, this includes your taco protein preference, half a can of black beans, corn, salsa, cumin, and some jalapeno. These days we finish it off with fresh cilantro from our garden. 
  3. Breakfast Rice: Inspired by our love of bacon and eggs, I use green onions for this one and eggs and bacon for my protein sources. Seasoning wise, a little salt, pepper, and a quick dash of soy sauce do the trick. 
  4. Indian Rice: We love curry, dal, and all sorts of yummy Indian spices around our house, so for this variation, we go heavy on the curry. Sometimes we add some leftover lentil dal, use up whatever protein we have available, and toss in a little garam masala and cumin seed for extra flavor. 
  5. Southern Rice: This one is new and is a bit of a mix between dirty rice and jambalaya with a few gumbo elements thrown in if we have them. Okra, onions, celery, a few tomatoes, sausage, and, creole seasoning, really lend a lot of flavors, and it’s fun to have it all mixed in together. 
  6. Wings Rice: Yup, I went there. Instead of soy sauce, we add some dashes of hot sauce, roasted chicken (or whatever kind we have) celery, and carrots make this a tasty wings treat that you can eat with a fork. Ranch dressing drizzle is optional but highly recommended. 

While I know none of these are strict representations of different flavor profiles, they are fun and add some zing to leftovers when we need something new. If your kids aren’t adventurous eaters, this is also a great way to try different flavors but on familiar foods like chicken and rice. 

Do you have any variations to add to the list?

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