First published in August 2007, this updated ingredient post features new photos, links and tweaks to the recipe. When I make this dish now, I use a much larger proportion of vegetables to rice, so I've adjusted the original recipe. Make as little or as much as you wish, and use any combination of vegetables -- the more colorful, the merrier. When you're running around crazy-busy before the holidays, it's nice to have a quick stir-fry dish in your repertoire for an easy lunch or dinner.
I know what you're thinking.
Good grief, three quarts of brown rice! What is she doing with so much rice? Mortaring a brick patio? Filling a sandbox? Making a bean bag chair? Blind-baking a year's worth of pies???
None of the above. This brown Nishiki rice, perfect for the rice cooker to which I am unrepentantly addicted, isn't all that easy to find in the grocery store, and the smallest package in my favorite Asian market happens to be five pounds. I'm glad to have it in my pantry.
Though more than half the world's population gets more than half its daily calories from rice, the rice they prefer is, overwhelmingly, white rice, such as arborio, basmati, long-grain and sweet. Yet there's no doubt that brown rice packs the greater nutritional wallop, with more than three times the dietary fiber of white rice, along with beneficial doses of many vitamins and magnesium.
Brown rice is white rice that hasn't been stripped of all of its layers. Only the outermost layer, the hull, is removed in processing, leaving behind the bran and germ layers where most of the nutrients reside. Because there are more layers for liquid to penetrate, brown rice takes longer to cook than its white counterpart. Rice cookers make this foolproof, as long as you start with enough liquid in the cooker.
You can find brown versions of many types of rice -- brown basmati, brown long-grain, brown Nishiki -- in supermarkets and ethnic groceries. I buy my new favorite brown Texmati at the local dollar store.
Store your rice in an airtight container, where it will stay fresh (and critter-free). Be sure to cut out the cooking directions on the package and stick them in with the rice. That way, you'll remember what type of rice you have, and the proportion of rice to water that you'll need to cook it.
Vegetable fried rice
Years ago, Jae Chung, owner of several eponymous restaurants in Boston and western Massachusetts, shared this recipe with me. He would sometimes add a whole hot pepper (a small one, like a Thai pepper, but the small ones are the hot ones!). If you like hot and spicy fried rice, add a hot pepper with the vegetables. To make this vegetarian, omit the oyster sauce and double the soy sauce. Serves 1; can be multiplied.
2 tsp peanut, vegetable or rice bran oil
1 egg, lightly scrambled
1 cup diced mixed vegetables -- onion, bell pepper, Napa cabbage, etc.
1 cup broccoli florets, blanched for 1 minute in boiling water (or steamed in a microwave)
1 cup cooked brown rice, any variety, chilled
1 tsp oyster sauce (omit for vegetarian, and use 2 tsp soy sauce)
1 tsp reduced-sodium soy sauce
Salt and pepper to taste (a pinch of each)
1/2 tsp sesame oil
Heat the oil in a wok over highest heat, and add the egg. Stir quickly!
Immediately add the vegetables, and continue to stir for 15 seconds.
Add rice, oyster sauce, soy sauce, and salt and pepper, and stir for 1 minute; the sauce should be absorbed and the rice grains should be separate.
Add the sesame oil, toss, and serve hot.
Other recipes that use these pantry ingredients:
Pineapple chicken fried rice, from Just a Taste
Sriracha fried rice, from Appetite for China
Kale fried rice for one, from Herbivoracious
Ginger fried rice, from Smitten Kitchen
Kimchi fried rice, from Rasa Malaysia
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Disclosure: The Perfect Pantry earns a few pennies on purchases made through the Amazon.com links in this post. Thank you for supporting this site when you start your shopping here.