Growing up, having fried rice for dinner was synonymous with “fridge clean-out day,” meaning that any leftover vegetables and/or proteins from the night—or week—before were on their way to the wok. Those leftovers might be pieces of Chinese roast pork, bits of leftover chicken and baby bok choy, gai lan (Chinese broccoli) and corn—but when mixed with eggs and oyster sauce, they made a quick dinner that was ready in minutes.
The fried rice recipes in a recent issue of EatingWell aren’t the smorgasbord fried rice of my childhood. And they’re not the greasy fried rice from your local Chinese takeout either. They’re healthier and much more balanced. You basically get the best of both worlds, home cooking and high on flavor.
Made with whole-grain brown rice and loaded with nutritious vegetables and lean protein, these five recipes keep the taste and texture of fried rice while cutting back on the sodium and calories.
I gave a nod to the Cantonese fried rice of my childhood in one of these recipes, but I also developed four additional Asian-inspired fried rice flavors to mix it up a bit.
So put down the takeout menu and learn how to make healthy fried rice the EatingWell way.
Here are the 5 steps to making healthy fried rice:
1. Cook the Eggs
Using a large, seasoned wok (seasoned woks are naturally nonstick) and high heat, cook two large, lightly beaten eggs into a flat omelet in a little peanut oil for about 30 seconds per side. Transfer the omelet to a cutting board and cut into 1/2-inch pieces.
2. Choose Lean Protein
Cook pieces of lean protein, such as chicken or pork tenderloin, with minced scallions, garlic and ginger. This step flavors the meat while it’s cooking.
3. Add Fresh Vegetables
Add tons of fresh vegetables, such as broccoli, zucchini, carrots and eggplant, to the protein in the wok. Cook for 2 to 4 minutes, or until your vegetables have softened and the protein is cooked all the way through. Transfer all the contents of the wok to a large plate.
4. Stir-Fry the Rice Separately
Using cold brown rice (warm rice will stick to the wok), stir-fry the rice in oil until it’s hot. Use two wooden spatulas to pull the rice from the bottom to the top, tossing all around, so all the rice is evenly coated with the oil and cooked, about 2 minutes.
5. Season Judiciously
Return the protein, vegetables and egg to the wok with the rice. Add the seasonings, such as reduced-sodium soy sauce, lime juice, Japanese ponzu sauce or oyster sauce and stir to combine. When you have the option, elect for reduced-sodium sauces, because prepared sauces like soy sauce add great flavor but are often very high in sodium.
Hint: To keep the sodium down, we took it easy on the salty Asian sauces and chose lower sodium options where possible.
Did your fried rice not come out right? Watch this video: 4 Secrets to Perfect Fried Rice
What takeout recipes would you like to give a makeover? Tell us what you think below.