Spicy Lime and Ginger Chicken Fried Rice

Fried rice is incredibly simple and versatile.  For years I tried to over-do it with bottled stir-fry sauces and condiments found in the Asian foods isle of the grocery store.  While the dishes tasted great they lacked the simplicity of the fried rice I had had in Chinese restaurants.  Over time I learned that simple is better.

Fried rice has only 5 simple ingredients. If you stick with these simple ingredients, you will make a great fried rice every time.

  1. Rice
  2. Meat
  3. Veggie
  4. Soy Sauce
  5. Egg

Let’s break them down.

Rice

Day old (or two) rice is clearly the best option when making fried rice.  You want the rice to be dry otherwise it will clump and stick and you will have a soggy fried rice.  For this reason I also prefer to use simple long grain white rice as it will dry up nice in the fridge.  Jasmine rice, while mighty tasty, has a tendency to stay very soft and moist so I save this type of rice for my fresh rice dishes although it also works great in cold rice salads or rice puddings.

Fried rice is one of those dishes I tend to make when I want something quick yet filling or we have small amounts of leftover meat and veggie that I want to use up. I don’t typically plan ahead for fried rice which creates a problem when I  need day old rice for the recipe.

If I remember in the morning I can quickly make the rice before I leave for work and pop it in the fridge.  If not, when I prepare my rice I simply use less water! Mix 1 cup of rice with 1 1/2 cups water and cook as you usually do.  If you have time before your meal stick it in the fridge for and hour our two.  If not it will still be a moist fried rice but not as much so as if you had used all the water.

Meat

Pork, shrimp, beef and chicken are the typical meats used in stir fry.  I like my meats to be sliced paper thin so the pieces cook quickly and can be easily picked up and eaten without a knife.  In addition to fresh meat I often save bits of leftover steak or pork roast in a bag in the freezer for fried rice.  You should however use the meat within a month for the freshest taste.

The pork used in Chinese restaurants in a cured pork that is typically available in Asian Markets.  If you are fortunate to have one near you it is great in fried rice.

I have found the best way to get flavor into your fried rice is through the meat.  Marinating meat in advance not only helps to tenderize it put can impart a variety of flavors.  I will share my Spicy Lime and Ginger Chicken recipe with you below.

Veggie

The vegetables used in fried rice can vary greatly.  In American Chinese restaurants you will typically find onions and green peas.  Truthfully it is all up to personal taste and really anything goes.  The great thing about fried rice is that you don’t need a ton of veggie to fill out the dish so it is the perfect dish for using up the little odds and ends of veggie you have in your fridge.

My favorites are onion, snow peas, green onion, mushroom, and peppers (any color).  I have also used julienned carrots, peas, pearl onions, squash, broccoli and even asparagus.

Soy Sauce

Soy sauce is really the key to flavor in the dish and besides the meat marinade is really the only flavoring you need to add.  It imparts flavor and salt and that traditional Chinese flavor.  I prefer to use a low-sodium soy sauce because I find it to be very salty.  If you are gluten-free you can use Tamari sauce and Kikkoman also now makes a gluten-free soy sauce.

Egg

Fried rice with out egg would just be boring.  The little bits of scrambled egg throughout the dish add protein and a little kick of flavor.  Since I have an unlimited supply of farm fresh eggs our fried rice is never missing egg.  I prefer to scramble my eggs separately and add to the dish in the final minutes of cooking.  You can cook it right in the pan with your rice but I have often experienced difficulty with it sticking to the pan and cooking unevenly.

 

Spicy Lime and Ginger Chicken Fried Rice

2 chicken breasts, sliced thin
1 Tbs. Sesame Oil
2 Tbs. Low-sodium Soy Sauce
Zest and juice of 1/2 a lime
Crushed Red Pepper Flakes, to taste
4 Garlic Cloves, grated
1/2 Tbs fresh ginger, grated
1 Tbs. Honey
Day-old Rice
Chopped Veggies
Sesame Oil
Soy Sauce
2 Large eggs

In a bowl combine the chicken with the next seven ingredients listed.  Cover and refrigerate 3 hours to over night.  In a large saute pan heat a small amount of oil and add the chicken* and the marinade ingredients and saute until the chicken is cooked through.  Set aside the cooked chicken and add your veggies to the same pan.  If any residual marinade remains and begins to brown too much add a bit of water to the hot pan to deglaze the bottom.  While the veggies cook, scramble two eggs in a seperate pan.  When the veggies begin to soften add the rice and the eggs to the pan.  Stir to combine.  Add in the cooked chicken and 2 tablespoons of soy sauce.  Taste for seasoning and add more red pepper flake for more heat or more soy sauce for a saltier flavor.

I usually serve this with some grilled fresh pineapple and some steamed broccoli.  It also makes a great complete dinner on it own.

For a fun family dinner eat with chopsticks and serve Oolong or Jasmine Tea and finish the meal with fortune cookies for the whole family!

*I am not much of a meat eater so one chicken breast is enough for my husband and I.  I typically only cook 1/2 of the chicken and freeze the rest for and even quicker dinner later on.

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