If you’ve ever had watched fried rice be made, like our first hibachi experience, you already know that when the ingredients are already prepped, it comes together quickly and easily. Which is why leftovers make excellent fried rice! One of our favorite things to do at the end of the week is to dump all the leftovers and wilted veggies into a wok. While Fridge Dump Leftover Fried Rice looks fancy here, trust us – with just some spare veggies and leftover proteins hanging around in the back of your fridge, you, too, can make fried rice at home!
We tend to make this one pot dish a couple times a month, especially when we have activities in the evening, because it can come together quickly on any evening of the week. In a few minutes, your neglected leftovers become a delicious, veggie packed meal.
- Use cold or leftover rice for better frying. While hot rice will still make a fine dinner, because of the moisture content it won’t fry up and crisp like cold rice will. Stale rice soaks up the sauce you’ll put on it!
- These days, it’s pretty simple to find wheat-free tamari or coconut aminos. While many grocery stores will have them, you can also order them from Amazon or Thrive Market.
- Wanna level up? Toast your own sesame seeds! Just take a small fry pan and cook your seed in a dry pan over medium-low heat until fragrant.
- Any veggies or meat will do, so experiment to find your favorite combinations! Our favorites are:
- pork carnitas or barbacoa from Taco Tuesday with bagged broccoli slaw and green onion as a garnish
- shrimp or fish leftovers with caramelized onions, snow peas, mushrooms, and micro-greens as a garnish
- classic: rotisserie chicken, carrots, peas, mushrooms and onions
Choosing the Right Rice
We recommend choosing an organic, polished glutinous (sushi) white rice for easier digestion, but jasmine, wild, or brown rice would work too. Fun fact: glutinous rice doesn’t actually contain gluten, it’s referred to that way in translation from “sticky”, which is how gluten as a protein behaves.
Amylose is a straight chain of glucose units connected by alpha 1-4 bonds. These bonds are broken by the enzymes maltase and amylase. … However, amylose can form a very compact physical structure, which inhibits digestion. Therefore, amylopectin is actually digested better than amylose. [source]
While long grain rice contains both starch components, sticky rice only contains amylopectin, with an almost negligible amount of amylose. When hot water interacts with amylopectin-heavy sticky rice, the starch molecules separate, turning the rice soft and sticky. [read more here]
- 2 C diced vegetables (like onions, carrots, peas, celery, mushrooms, etc.)
- 2 C meat, diced (uncooked shrimp, cooked pork, leftover chicken, cooked beef, etc.)
- 4 Tbsp butter, ghee or coconut oil, divided
- 1 Tablespoon olive oil
- 2 eggs, scrambled
- 4 C cooled, cooked rice
- 1/3 C gluten-free tamari or coconut aminos
- 2 Tbsp toasted sesame oil
- 2 Tbsp Balanced Bites Trifecta, or equal parts granulated garlic, salt, and white pepper
- 2 green onions, sliced
- toasted sesame seeds
- In a large frying pan or, preferably, wok, melt 2 tablespoons of butter and olive oil over medium-high heat. Prep all the items first, as your wok will get hot fast and the butter alone will smoke if an oil, which has a higher smoke point, is not added.
- FOR LEFTOVERS: Add all cooked veggies and meat to the hot pan, layering in spice blend and stirring as additional items are added. We recommend first and always starting with raw white or sweet yellow onions - it will help the caramelized flavor desired in the fried rice. FOR RAW VEGGIES & MEAT: Add vegetables and saute until soft, first the raw onions, letting them become browned before adding other vegetables. Season with half of the spice mixture while it cooks. Ensure all vegetables are softened before adding protein. Then, add meat, remainder of spice mixture, and stir frequently until cooked or heated through.
- Turn heat to medium high. Re-scramble eggs, whipping as much air into them as you can (we find a fork works best). Create a void in the middle of your wok or frying pan and add in 1 Tablespoon butter, then pour in eggs. Using a wooden spoon or silicon spatula, continue to stir and move eggs around in the hole created until cooked, then stir into meat and vegetables to blend fully.
- Add cooled rice and remaining butter, stir to combine, then let sit for 1 minute. The key to a crispy fried rice is patience. You need to let the rice sit on the edge of the hot pan to get slightly crispy before adding the liquid. Wait about 2-5 minutes, depending on your pan (our cast iron wok only takes 2 but a large fry pan takes longer) and stir once you start to see browning, then wait again before adding the liquids.
- Pour in tamari and sesame oil and stir into rice until well combined.
- Remove from heat, garnish with green onion and sesame seeds. Serves 6.
Make sure you're cutting your vegetables into the right sizes for the rice. Mushrooms will soften and cook faster than carrots, so those sizes should be slightly larger (but still bite size) in order for all vegetables to cook evenly.
If you have partially raw and partially cooked vegetables, when combining for using leftovers, cook the raw veggies first until softened, then proceed with the leftover instructions.
We often use more vegetables and less rice than noted here, depending on what's in the fridge - but these measurements are more of a traditional ratio. As you make this you'll begin to see how flexible it is!
Fried rice as a dish dates back to the Sui dynasty of China, some time in the 6th century. Since plain rice was a staple dish in China, leftover rice was abundant. Fried rice likely came from the taboo against food waste among the Chinese, and using leftovers in fried rice has always been its purpose. So by making your own fried rice, you’re honoring a centuries old tradition!
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