Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Thai-Style Chicken Fried Rice

There are some dishes that I won't make without leftovers - soup is one of them, chili is another. This dish is one that I make whether I have leftovers or not. It is also a dish that can be adapted for the veggies and meat that you have on hand. There are several things that I find necessary in this dish or I will not make it. Those items are noted with an asterisk below.

2 T Vegetable Oil
2 Cups Cooked Chicken. It can be freshly cooked, if need be or can be leftover or rotisserie.
*2 Cups Cooked and Cooled Rice - the best bet is Jasmine for its aroma.
2 Cups Fresh Snow Peas
*1 1lb Bag Asian Style Frozen Vegetables (this includes broccoli, snow peas, carrots, and water chestnuts)
*2 T Fish Sauce
*2 T Low Sodium Soy Sauce
*2 T Sweet Chili Sauce
1 Cup Red Cabbage chopped or shredded or 1 cup of bean sprouts
*2 Eggs
*1 Green Onion, chopped
1 lime, cut into segments

If you are working with cooked meat (you can use pork, beef, or chicken), this process moves really quickly. So, make sure you take care of all of the interruptions that may come up in a 10 minute span, kick the kids out of the kitchen, and let the dog out.

Heat a wok or large, high-sided skillet until it is smoking hot. Add the oil and IMMEDIATELY add the meat (if you are using meat since this can be a veggie only dish if so desired), cooked or not. If the meat it isn't cooked, cook it now! Once it is cooked, add the rice. Toss this mixture around occasionally but allow the rice to actually fry and get crispy on the bottom.

Let this cook for 1 minute before you add the fresh peas. The object is to have the fresh vegetables still be crispy but cooked so the earlier you add them, the softer they will be when you are done. Next, add the bag of frozen veggies and fold it all together. At this time, add the three sauces and stir everything together until you are sure that those delicious sauces are coating every bit of rice. Note: Even if you are tempted; don't leave out the fish sauce, it adds a depth of flavor that makes this recipe restaurant-quality. If you want it to be spicier, you can add more chili sauce or even dried chili flakes. Finally, add the cabbage and stir or toss to combine.

Reduce the heat and cover the pan for 3 or 4 minutes to allow the veggies to thaw and steam. Lift the lid and breathe in this glorious are almost there. Create a well in the center of the rice so you are exposing a section of the pan large enough to scramble a couple of eggs in (about 3 inches in diameter). If the pan is dry, spray it with nonstick cooking spray and crack a couple of eggs into the space. After about 15 seconds, begin to scramble the eggs and continue to scramble them until they are almost done and then stir the rice into the eggs and mix it all together again.

Turn off the heat on the burner and cover the pan to allow the flavors to marry for about 10 minutes. Top with chopped green onion just before serving and serve each plate with a wedge of lime. I cannot stress how fresh this dish tastes with those onions and the lime juice. It is good without them but it is great with them. Trust me!

Alternatives and additional suggestions:
If you have it on hand or just want to play with flavors, you wouldn't go wrong if you added large chopped onion pieces, chopped garlic, grated ginger, chopped fresh cilantro, chopped fresh Thai basil, or fresh chili peppers to this dish. You can also top it with chopped peanuts. YUM, YUM, YUM!

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