The ultimate ‘leftovers’ dinner: Fried rice

One of the very few downsides to living on the gorgeous Sunshine Coast, is that we are pretty deprived when it comes to multicultural food. We have incredible tropical fruit, amazingly fresh vegetables (most of the vegies I buy are picked only a day or two earlier) and the fresh ginger, turmeric and galangal from nearby Yandina is incredible. However when it comes to things like spices, sauces and Asian ingredients, we have a tiny, overpriced Indian supermarket in our suburb, and a slightly larger Indian supermarket about half an hour away, and that’s about it.

So when my mum and I made the 2 hour trip to Brisbane today, we insisted upon scheduling in a visit to Chinatown to stock up on kitchen essentials.

I picked up huge bottles of soy sauce, kecap manis, hoisin sauce (for my cheat’s Peking duck pancakes – recipe to follow soon!) Indonesian sambal, curry pastes, noodles, oyster sauce, Chinese black vinegar, miso soup sachets and lup chong all for less than $50. My mum’s contribution to the economy of Brisbane’s Chinatown was the purchase of a massive lump of sweet, sticky and buttery soft Chinese red pork.

Fortunately, I had leftover cooked rice from the weekend, so after our long drive home, a quick, easy dinner was on the cards. Fried rice seemed the only sensible decision.

Fried rice

This is the ultimate dinner for using up leftovers. Rummage through your vegetable crisper and pull out everything that is reaching the end of its life – corn, capsicum, cauliflower, broccoli, carrots, onions, celery, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, mushrooms, frozen peas, snow peas, zucchini – anything really. Even if it’s not a traditionally Asian vegetable, the soy sauce and other flavours will dominate the dish and it will all taste fabulous in the end.

Leftover rice MUST be treated with respect due to the risk of Bacillus cereus food poisoning. Refrigerate any leftovers as soon as you have served the cooked rice, preferably in a flat tray so it cools quickly. Ensure it remains refrigerated below 4C until you use it, and heat it until it is very hot all the way through. Use leftover rice within 2 days, and throw away anything not used after the second cooking. Do not reheat and reuse again.

The only things you don’t want to use are things that will go soft or mushy. Potato, pumpkin, sweet potato or tomato probably won’t work.

  • Leftover rice (as long as it has been stored as specified above)
  • 1 large piece ginger, crushed and finely chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1 onion sliced
  • Any vegetables you like, cut to similar size
  • Eggs, lightly beaten
  • Lup chong sausage, sliced (optional, substitute bacon if you like)
  • Chinese BBQ ‘red’ pork sliced into strips (pork mince is a good substitute)
  • Vegetable oil
  • Sesame oil
  • Soy sauce
  • Sweet soy (kecap manis)
  • Shallots, sliced

Fry the onion, garlic and ginger gently in a small splash of oil then set aside. Stir fry the vegetables and lup chong in a bit more of the oil (in batches if necessary) then set aside. Try and keep a variation in textures – perhaps cook your onions and capsicum really well so they are chewy and sweet and caramelised, but keep your broccoli quite crisp and crunchy.

Heat some more of the vegetable oil along with a splash of the sesame oil and add your cooked and cooled rice. You may need to crumble it in your hands to break up the cold rice. Allow it to cook, while stirring frequently. Add all the reserved vegetables, pork and eggs and continue to stir until everything is hot and well combined. Add soy sauce and sweet soy to taste, then serve the fried rice with an extra drizzle of sesame oil and a good handful of sliced shallots over the top.

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3 thoughts on “The ultimate ‘leftovers’ dinner: Fried rice

  1. While bacon makes everything taste better, I would have bacon and lup cheong in my fried rice :-)

    I really like that you warn about Bacillus cereus. It wouldn’t surprise me if that is what caused the major problem in Sydney recently at the Australian Gymnastics Championships.

    • Hahaha of course, I said “OR bacon” when I really should have said “AND bacon”!

      I think the risk from rice is really unknown, and I imagine it’s often blamed on other things (ie someone gets sick from sushi and they will blame the seafood, when it’s quite likely the rice). I’m doing a post on food poisoning soon, so I’ll talk about it in more detail then.

      • I did my clinical microbiology training in Brisbane and remember some severe Bacillus cereus poisoning associated with rice from some restaurants.

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