With its perfect proportions of starch, grease and spice, fried rice is the ultimate comfort food. I like mine with plenty of veggies combined with a simple, flavorful sauce. Hopefully your family will enjoy this recipe as much as ours does.
Bring on the umami!
This recipe has four components: jasmine rice, tofu, veggies and sauce. If you can, cook the rice a day ahead, but don’t fret if you forgot or didn’t have time. It will still taste good, it just may be a bit clumpy.
The tofu will absolutely taste best if you press it first. If you don’t own a tofu press, then wrap the brick of tofu in paper towels, place it between two flat objects such as cutting boards, and put something as heavy as a big book on top.
Press it for about an hour, changing the paper towels every 10 or 15 minutes to get rid of as much excess liquid as possible, then slice it down to your preferred size and shapes. For fried rice, I like half-inch squares or rectangles. I also prefer to make my tofu separately in its own skillet, but more on that later.
When the rice is cooked, the tofu is pressed and all the ingredients are gathered and within reach, it’s time to prep the veggies. You can do this ahead of time, of course, but I enjoy the excitement of chopping them up and immediately tossing them into a sizzling pan, usually while alt-rock or indie music blares in the background.
Here are the ingredients:
- Three cups cooked rice
- Four tablespoons canola oil, divided in half
- One pressed brick of super-firm or extra-firm tofu, chopped into cubes
- One tablespoon of cornstarch
- One small onion, chopped
- Two cloves of garlic, chopped
- One inch of ginger, minced or slivered with a peeler
- Two stalks celery, chopped
- Two medium carrots, chopped
- A handful or two of frozen peas
- One tomato, squeezed and diced, or a cupful of cherry tomatoes, halved
- Salt and pepper to taste
- A quarter cup soy sauce
- A tablespoon rice vinegar
- A level tablespoon of brown sugar
Optional garnishes: Extra soy sauce, lime wedges, fresh cilantro and either sriracha or garlic chili sauce make nice condiments for this meal.
Here are the directions:
- Pour one or two tablespoons of canola oil into your wok, or the big skillet you’re using, and put that pan on a burner set to medium.
- While the oil heats cut up the onions, garlic, celery and carrots and put it in the pan. When they start to change color, add the ginger. I use a peeler to quickly sliver the ginger right into the wok.
- While the veggies are cooking, put two tablespoons of oil in a different skillet and set the heat at medium-high. This skillet’s for the tofu.
- Put your cubed tofu in a mixing bowl, add about a quarter teaspoon of salt and pepper, give it a gentle stir and then sprinkle on the cornstarch. Carefully mix it until the cubes are coated and then place them in their skillet.
- Cook on medium-high heat for about three minutes or so on each side until they are as brown as you like. Between being pressed and then tossed in corn starch, they ought to be nicely firm and slightly crispy when done.
- Of course while doing all of this you’ve also found time to slice up that tomato and you’ve been stirring your vegetables in the wok. Those veggies should be soft enough by now, so go ahead and add in that tomato and a handful or so of those frozen peas. Cook until the peas and tomato chunks change color.
- Once the veggies are done to your liking, add in the fried tofu. Mix it well and then spoon in the rice. Stir it all together and then go make your sauce.
- In a glass measuring cup or small mixing bowl, pour a quarter-cup of soy sauce, a tablespoon of rice vinegar, a level tablespoon of brown sugar, and whisk it together.
- It never looks like it’s enough sauce at this point, but go ahead and add it to the veggies, tofu and rice. Mix it well until every grain of rice is brown. Keep stirring until it’s all as hot as you’d like, then serve.
For a nice presentation, transfer the fried rice into an attractive bowl. Then arrange the garnishes on their own plate and place it near the main dish. Your family and friends can use them to personalize their meal, making it fiery hot or keeping it flavorfully mild.