Yesterday, we had a lot of relatives over and after dinner there was leftover steamed jasmine rice. I wasn’t going to let the rice go to waste; I usually make com chiên chay (“vegetarian fried rice” in Vietnamese). That way my husband and his sisters who are all vegetarians, can make it disappear!
I also happily discovered that my baby daughter absolutely loves fried rice. I’m thrilled because this dish is super easy to prepare. Once you know the tricks to keep the rice from turning soggy and mushy, you can make it as often as it pleases you, with whatever veggies you have on hand.
For this version, I mixed carrots, peas, corn, red and green bell peppers, green onions and diced fried tofu with the jasmine rice. I didn’t add any egg so the rest of the family could enjoy it as well.
As a child, Maman would always tell us kids not waste food; it’s “toi chet” (“dreadfully sinful” in Vietnamese). As an Asian mom, I’m definitely keeping the family “tradition” and teacingh the same ethic to my daughter.
1. Info for Vegetarian Fried Rice Recipe (Com Chien Chay in Vietnamese)
- Cook Time: 27 mins
- Total Time: 45 mins
- Servings: 6
- Calories: 350 kcal
2. Ingredients for Vegetarian Fried Rice Recipe (Com Chien Chay in Vietnamese)
- 5 cups steamed jasmine rice, preferably chilled
- 5 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 2 cloves garlic, finely minced
- 1 cup fried tofu
- 1 teaspoon mushroom seasoning salt (or salt)
- 1 teaspoon black peppercorns, freshly ground
- 2 green onions, chopped
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce
- 2 tablespoons fresh cilantro, finely chopped
- In a small bowl, dilute the soy sauce with 1 tablespoon water. Set aside.
- In a wok, heat 3 tablespoons oil. Add garlic and diced carrots. Cook until the garlic and carrots are light golden. Add ¼ cup water, lower the heat and cook for 4-5 minutes until the vegetables are slightly softened and the water is evaporated. Add the rest of the vegetables and fried tofu. Stir fry until the veggies are almost translucent; season with mushroom seasoning salt and pepper. Transfer to a plate.
- Into the same wok, add the remaining oil. Add the green onions. Stir fry until they’re fragrant. Add the paprika (or red chili powder if used). Once the oil has changed color, spread the rice evenly over the wok and stir until each grain is evenly coated with oil. Using a silicone spatula, scrape any grains of rice that may be stuck on the wok. Let it cook for about 2-3 minutes. You know it’s time to add the soy sauce when some of the grains of rice start popping and jumping up in the wok. Add the soy sauce mixture. Let it cook for about 2 minutes, again scraping any grains of rice that may be stuck on the wok with the silicone spatula.
- Return the tofu and veggies back to the wok. Toss using 2 spatulas positioned one on either side of the wok to prevent the food from sticking to the bottom. Cook the fried rice for another minute. Toss well. Turn off the heat. Add the cilantro and finish with a dash of black pepper.
4. Tips and advices:
- All the vegetables should be diced the same size for a well-distributed, even result.
- A lot of cooks say that the way to make a good “dry” non-mushy fried rice is to chill your rice overnight. I would add other tips:
- 1 – The addition of the oil at the beginning is the same procedure as the one I use for for making risotto to prevent it from being mushy. Coating each grain of rice in fat prevents them from sticking to one another.
- 2 – The higher the heat of your stove, the better. Also, when you place the rice in the wok, resist the urge to move the rice. Leave it untouched for about 2-3 minutes to let it dry a little.
- 3 – Make sure you’ve stir-fried your rice over very high heat until you see each grain of rice popping in the wok. Once they’re popping, pour in the soy sauce mixture.
- Little reminder on how to fry tofu: Cut 8 ounces of tofu (I used Thanh Son brand tofu) into ½-inch slices. In a wok, heat 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil. Pan-fry the pieces of tofu on both sides until golden and puffy. The tofu should have a nice fried outer crust and still be moist inside. Transfer the tofu onto paper towels. Once the tofu pieces are cool enough to handle, dice them. Set aside.