Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Leftover Takeout Rice

I'm sure everyone reading this has gotten takeout from an Asian restaurant such as Chinese, Thai, Indian, Korean or otherwise at sometime in their lives. How often do you end up with a ridiculous amount of either steamed white rice or sometimes like I do from Thai food, a pile of excess rice soaked in red curry sauce or otherwise. They honestly just give you way too much, but I'm here to tell you that that's okay with me. I know many people probably let it sit in the refrigerator for a few days until they decide to toss it out after it's been sitting so long it has dried out and no one even wants to microwave it.

Well let me tell you what I do with leftover rice. I do exactly what the Asian restaurants do. That fried rice you get at the Chinese or Thai restaurant is made from day-old rice on purpose. As the rice gets to dry overnight it gains the ability to soak up the flavors of other items they will stir-fry with it. So in turn you should look at that leftover rice as a foundation for a new dish.

One of my favorite things to do is take so red chili oil in a wok (or large non-stick pan) on smoking hot heat (turn on that exhaust fan), toss in half a block of medium diced firm tofu and get it extra crispy, then I add one tablespoon of minced ginger and garlic along with 1 diced head of bok choy, maybe so 1/2 cup of thinly sliced bell peppers and yellow onion and stir fry them for about 3-4 minutes. I then add about 1/2 a cup of thinly sliced shitakes and stir-fry them another minute or two and then take the left over rice from my Thai red curry that I had the night before as it will have usually have a lot of curry and coconut left in it still. Stir that around until it is really hot and then squeeze the juice of half a lime over the top of it, take it off the heat and that's another night's diner or lunch.

It is easy to make Chinese fried rice as well. You can really choose whatever vegetables or meat that you like. In a similar fashion to what I explained with the Thai flavored dish, take 1 tablespoon each minced ginger and garlic, stir fry for one minute in some canola or vegetable oil. Then take 2-3 eggs and crack them into the pan stir frying until well set then remove from the pan and set aside.

Reheat the pan and then add 1/2 lb of whatever meat you desire sliced thin, VERY thin though, such as chicken, beef, or even tofu again (I eat a lot of tofu) or even bay scallops or shrimp. Stir in the pan until cooked through, then add desired vegetables, I like to use 1/2 cup sliced peppers, onions, broccoli florets (chopped small) then after a couple minutes I'll toss in some shitakes, half a cup of mung bean sprouts (in that funky vegetarian/Asian section of your grocery store's produce aisle ). Stir fry for a few minutes more and then toss in that container of day-old plain basmati (Indian), Jasmine (Thai), or Chinese (each place differs) white rice. Heat it through and then add the juice of half a lemon and 1/8 cup or more as desired of soy sauce and pull off the heat(you don't want to reduce the soy sauce) and then toss in the stir-fried eggs, mix well and serve.

So don't throw out your old take-out rice, make it into your own creation. Truly the ideas are limitless as long as you just keep that pan hot and choose the vegetables you like you will have a great meal and you won't have to toss away that rice. Other options include throwing in pineapple, cashews, water chestnuts, frozen peas, sliced carrot or perhaps some Korean Kimchi. Hey if you want send it my way, I'm thinking of making some lemongrass fried-rice soon.

While you are thinking about cooking rice by-the-way, why don't you take the time to check out this site on biofortified rice for nations with malnourished populations. I found the topic to be interesting and perhaps some of you may want to look into it more.

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