Fried rice is the lifeboat of the leftover world, carrying everything in your fridge to safety. I mean it. It has rescued me many times.
At home working today, but mostly distracted by what to eat for lunch. I sent a leftover rice bowl to work with Emily, but had a bit of rice and broccoli left over. Sane people would simply put those into the microwave and call it good. I am certainly not above that--I'm just kind of incapable of it. This is often an impediment. Maybe that's why I'm so excited about this food blog. It turns my neuroses into something useful.
My mom gave me a cast iron wok for Christmas a couple years ago (my first wok, amazingly), and it catapulted me into Fried Rice Mania. Throw anything in there! It comes out transformed! Magic! Watch out, world! I've calmed down a bit now, but am still on the fried rice bandwagon.
Today's version will be the first of many, I predict, but I hope it inspires you to start taking advantage of what I call the Surface Area Quotient. It's the same factor that makes old-fashioned donuts better than cake donuts--more surface area in which to be covered in glaze and crusted in the oven. Rice, with all its separateness and little rounded corners, just waits to be nestled against a hot wok. I love rice all stuck together, too, but fried rice is like its alter-ego, a sometimes better version of itself. And I ALWAYS have chunks of it in the fridge, getting all dried out. I've used really old stuff , and no one in my family is deathly ill yet.
It seems almost silly to call this a recipe, but here it is anyway, and subject to infinite variations. Normally I put minced garlic and ginger in, but even I drew the line there today. I have to get some real work done. You can also just crack an egg right into the wok at the end and stir it around. I fried mine separately because I like some yolk, but there are definitely at least two camps where Yolk-Loving is concerned.
One lesson I've learned the hard way is that you can put too much stuff in the wok at one time. It wrecks the Surface Area Quotient and leaves all the food steaming instead of stir-frying. So this recipe serves one--you can double it for two. If you want more than that, fry it in two batches.
Broccoli Fried Rice
1 c. cold cooked rice
1 tsp. vegetable oil
Handful broccoli, cooked or raw (if raw, make sure the florets aren't huge)
Handful fresh spinach (or cabbage), coarsely chopped
1 or 2 ts. soy sauce
1 egg, fried
pinch of salt
few big pinches of chopped fresh mint (pictured) or cilantro
Heat your wok (or nonstick frying pan or cast iron skillet) on high. When it's hot, add vegetable oil and turn the heat down to medium-high. Add broccoli and cook for a minute. Then add rice and spinach and cook for another 2 minutes. Avoid over-stirring because the rice needs a chance to 1) stick, 2) cook, and then 3) release. Add soy sauce, stir, and cook for a few more seconds. Dump into a bowl and put the fried egg, salt, and mint or cilantro on top. I didn't do chiles or hot sauce today, but of course you could do that, too.