Leftovers Revival: Fried Rice

Cracking open the fridge, I see the array of leftovers my parents have amassed from sometimes cooking a large batch of a dish or simply forgetting we had it. The fridge then prolongs its life until one day, we find it hiding behind the giant pickle jar, which I would also consider leftovers since no one in my family really eats them. Leftovers. Forgotten. Unwanted.

The next day, new dishes are cooked and more leftovers are piled into the fridge. Until one day, you realize a majority of your fridge space is filled with leftovers. Either you sit down and have an entire meal of microwaved leftovers or just toss it. Maybe tossing it isn’t the best option:

Today, I went to the fridge hungry. Open the fridge and just saw a lot of ingredients, mostly leftovers. But also food that was in its raw form that I could use. I usually go for the easy way to incorporate all these confused ingredients into a cohesive conglomerate: fried rice. Of course, you should have leftover rice. Aside from that, the rest is all up to you. Below is how I used a bit of creativity to cook something up. Let’s get started.

Ingredients

  • Rice (a must)
  • Vegetables
  • Meat (optional if you’re diet restricts you)
  • Egg (recommended if diet allows)
  • Salt to taste
  • Oil

What I Used

I included this to show you exactly what I used since the ingredients for this recipe is rather versatile. Really, just use what you think is best, and available (waiting to be used).

  • Rice (leftover)
  • Meat & Zha Cai (has an interesting sour & salty flavor – definitely an acquired taste – my family usually eats it in the mornings with congee and other sides) 
  • Sausage
  • 2 eggs (to make an omelet to put over the fried rice – I usually scramble it but decided to try something different this time)
  • Salt
  • Chunks of Pineapples (yes, pineapples – inspired by the pineapple fried rice I’ve had at Thai restaurants)
  • Scallions (it’s been a habit of mine to put it into fried rice after seeing my mother cook it that way)
  • Oil

Taken by Victoria Li.

Closeup of the Zha Cai made by my mom.

Closeup of the Zha Cai made by my mom.

Recipe

This is not a follow-it-word-by-word recipe due to its versatile nature. These are the steps I took to create my fried rice. Again, let your creativity flow but by all means, you can use this as a starting point.

As a rule of thumb, add ingredients from raw to cooked. But for this recipe, I changed it a little based on the temperature of the ingredient since it was cold from refrigeration and whether I would rather have it added in after the rice. The rice should be added towards the end. If you have fresh vegetables, add it last so it doesn’t wilt.

  1. Crack the eggs into a bowl and mix. Add some salt to season.
  2. Cut the ingredients that will be added to the fried rice and portion them into bowls. Prepping will make it a lot easier when cooking.
  3. Turn on the fire and heat the wok.
  4. Add the oil and evenly spread it along the wok by rotating your wrists while holding it.
  5. Add in the Zha Cai to warm it since it was refrigerated. Then add in the scallion and sausage. Stir fry.
  6. Add in the rice. Make sure to “cut” it up so it isn’t just a huge chunk of cold rice, which will make it difficult to stir fry.
  7. Stir fry. Add in the pineapples along with any juices for a bit of sweetness to be incorporated into the rice.
  8. {At this point, you can add any seasoning you want after all the ingredients are in. I decided not to add any sauces since I knew the Zha Cai itself was already salty and I also wanted to maintain the sweet flavor from the pineapples.}
  9. Place it into a bowl. Pack it compactly. You will be using this as a mold.
  10. Pour the mixed egg into a pan. I used the same wok since I didn’t have a large enough flat pan.
  11. Cook the egg until ready to flip and cook on other side.
  12. Put fried rice onto a plate from the bowl so it retains the bowl shape.
  13. Put the omelet over the fried rice.
  14. Clean the bowl and place it over the fried rice and egg to create a neat bowl shape. Clean up any messes, as in any egg and rice that did not make it into the bowl when it was placed over. Don’t throw it out, you can always eat it. This is for aesthetics but definitely not necessary.
Stir fried ingredients without rice.

Stir fried ingredients without rice.

Fried rice finished.

Fried rice finished.

Metal Bowl Mold

Metal Bowl Mold

Revealing the molded fried rice.

Revealing the molded fried rice.

Finished product

Finished product

20130717_141847

Cross section

Verdict

It was a good way to incorporate all these ingredients. I made enough for 2 servings. It was not spectacular but that’s what you get for throwing things together. However, I would rather eat this than trying to figure out how to eat all these individual ingredients. Fried rice is an easy way to make a pretty decent mish mosh meal of what you have in the fridge.

Lessons Learned

  • Scramble the egg. It was pretty difficult to eat since I wanted a bite of egg with a bite of fried rice. Scrambling the gg into the fried rice would make it a lot easier to have even distribution. Also, maybe I should try with one egg. Two eggs created a thick omelet and I imagined something thinner when brainstorming for this recipe.
  • Be wary of wok temperature. From watching food videos, I remembered that when stir frying, the wok should be really hot. I usually don’t heat it this hot but I did this time. When I put in the Zha Cai, some would literally jump out of the wok. A bit of oil also hit me. Not sure but maybe high temperature is required for raw ingredients?
  • No need to be fancy. I usually don’t mold my rice and then put a layer of egg over it. Just felt like making it pretty for this blog. But if you want to make it pretty, go for it! A part of enjoying your food involves eating it with your eyes.
  • Please prep (if practical). Before, I would chop up the ingredients but never put them into separate bowls. This time, it made it a lot easier rather than trying to separate the scallions from the sausage when adding it in. However, this may not be practical for you if you don’t have many small bowls or just don’t want to clean a lot of dishes.
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