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Friday, July 30, 2010

Don't Toss That Old Take-out Rice! Make Fried Rice Instead

Anybody who gets Chinese, Thai, or Indian takeout ends up with containers of leftover rice that tend to dry up, forgotten and neglected, on a back refrigerator shelf until they are one day unceremoniusly purged, tossed into the trash or the compost bin. But there's a way to avoid the waste.

Fried rice may be one of the best leftover saviors ever invented (as well as being one of the best comfort foods if you're feeling down, poor, or just a little agoraphobic). Provided you start with cold rice, you can toss anything in; with a dash or two of soy sauce and a few minutes' stirring at high heat, you have a nice, easy meal.

Even though fried rice is one of those dishes so simple that they say any moron can make it, we are not your average morons: we struggled with a lot of failed, sticky versions before we figured it out. The key is using cold rice. This is why leftovers are great. If you make your rice from scratch, be sure to chill it first; otherwise you will end up with a gummy mess.

Also, if you're making rice from scratch, bear in mind that brown rice has a crunchier texture than white, so it works particularly well in this dish.

Looking at the photo above, you're probably wondering what those black squares are. They are fake bacon, which tastes best—most bacony—when it is fried just to the verge of burning.

This recipe is an adaptation of the one in the legendary Henry Chung's Hunan Style Chinese Cookbook.

Fried Rice with Scrambled Eggs and Bacon

4 T. peanut oil
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 c. chopped bacon or ham*
1/4 c. scallions, chopped
1/2 c. red pepper, sliced and cut into one-inch pieces
1/2 c. peas
3 c. cooked cold rice
2 T. soy sauce (you may want more or less, depending on taste; if in question, start with a tablespoon and add if needed)
1 T. sesame oil

1. Heat wok over highest heat. Add one tablespoon of oil, then lightly scramble eggs; remove to separate plate.

2. Add two tablespoons of oil, then stir-fry the bacon or ham until it's crispy. Remove to the plate with the eggs.

3. Add remaining tablespoon of oil, then stir-fry the scallions, red pepper, and peas until just  done—it should only take a minute or two.

4. Add the rice, eggs, and bacon or ham; stir for a couple of minutes until heated and starting to brown.

5. Add soy sauce; remove to a platter and garnish with sesame oil.

* Any leftover meat would work well in this, but bacon and ham add a nice salty bite to the dish.


  1. You are so right. Day old, cold rice is the best for fried rice!!

  2. Your fried rice looks delicious! I haven't made it in a long time and will have to try this. I'm a new follower and so glad to find your blog as you have lots of good things here!