It all started at a hibachi restaurant. Watching the chef chop the vegetables, chicken, rice, egg and seasoning into a beautiful steaming dish of simplicity, I thought, “Wait a second, I can do that!” Not only was I sure I could recreate a dish very similar to hibachi fried rice, but I knew exactly how to make a healthier version.
Now, fried rice is one of my go-to dishes. Chock full of vegetables, whole grains, and protein while relatively low in fat and sodium, it is the perfect meal after a ballet workout, or even just after a long day of running around campus. Not only is it ~delicious and nutritious~, it’s easy, quick, and versatile.
This time around, my roommate, Amelia, and I were both back at the apartment after working out and both had a bunch of vegetables almost at the end of their prime. We decided to combine ingredients and make a big pot of veggie fried rice to share–no meat needed this time. Honestly, most of the time I throw in whatever vegetables and protein I can find in the fridge… so college, right?
First, we chopped up half an onion, two cloves of garlic, and a whole lot of mini red peppers.
It turns out we had WAY more vegetables on hand than anticipated, so we split up the fresh and frozen veggies (1 bag broccoli and 1/2 bag peas) into two very hot pans with ~1/2 tablespoon vegetable oil in each and kept stirring them. This technique, stir-frying, locks in nutrients with a quick sear on the outside of the vegetables, keeping them crisp and tasty.
Meanwhile, I started cooking my instant brown rice by following the directions on the package. I made 1 cup dry, which doubled into two cups after being fully cooked. Yay whole grains! If you hadn’t noticed in my other blog posts already, I’m a little bit of a fan–carbs to satisfy my energy needs plus fiber to keep me full and extra nutrients on top of that?? Yes please.
Once the veggies were cooked down a little bit, we attempted to fit them all in one pan… a semi-successful effort.
At this point, we realized we had made too many vegetables for an optimal veggie-to rice ratio and Amelia was completely famished, so she decided to start eating the stir-fried veggies plain with some leftover chicken she had warmed up–another healthy and scrumptious alternative. Her plate was so colorful, I couldn’t wait to see how well these veggies incorporated into the rice!
Back to the fried rice. After the brown rice was done cooking, we heated a little more oil in the pan to high heat and cracked two eggs. Eggs are a rich in protein and nutrients such as choline, vitamin B12, and vitamin D, in addition to being very affordable.
This is the *magic* behind fried rice I learned from watching the hibachi chefs: while the eggs were still uncooked, we quickly added half of the stir-fried vegetables (which was still quite a lot, I’d say about 2 full cups) and the cooked rice. Be careful here! The wet veggies and rice might splatter upon hitting the hot oil.
Now for the final flavors! We already had two cloves of garlic, so we really just needed a bit of saltiness/umami flavor and some mild spice. You could get a little crazy here and add some hot sauce or stir fry in some hot peppers earlier, but both Amelia and I were satisfied with a few shakes of ground black pepper and ~3 tablespoons of lower-sodium soy sauce.
We then mixed everything together, making sure to scrape cooked egg bits off the bottom of the pan so they didn’t burn. We kept stirring everything on high heat until the mixture no longer had a wet sheen to it, stopping before the soy sauce began to burn. We ended up with enough fried rice for two hearty portions and leftovers to spare.
Healthy Veggie Fried Rice
A healthy twist on a tasty classic.
- 1/2 white onion, sliced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 cup carrots and/or peppers, fresh or frozen, sliced
- 1 cup broccoli florets and/or snow peas, fresh or frozen
- 1 cup instant brown rice, dry
- 1 Tablespoon vegetable oil
- 2 eggs
- 3 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
- Dash of black pepper
- Slice onions and mince garlic. If the rest of the vegetables are fresh, slice or chop into bite-sized pieces (pre-packaged frozen veggies should already be cut).
- Begin to cook rice according to the directions on the package.
- Heat vegetable oil in a wok or a large, heavy-bottomed pan over high heat.
- Add onions, carrots/peppers and broccoli/snow peas to the hot pan and begin to stir fry. If the vegetables seem done before the rice is ready, turn off the burner.
- Once the rice is done cooking, first add the garlic to the pan and stir in. Then, make a well in the center of the vegetables, exposing the bottom of the pan. Crack both eggs into the well and let cook for a few seconds.
- Add all of the rice, but be careful to not add any extra water that might remain at the bottom of the rice pot; you can carefully drain the rice through the lid or with a spoon before adding to the pan to ensure this.
- Add soy sauce and black pepper and stir together, scraping cooked egg from the bottom of the pan every so often. Continue cooking and stirring until the rice no longer has a wet sheen to it; stop cooking and remove the pan from the heat if the soy sauce begins to burn.
- Serve hot immediately, top with a drizzle of Sriracha if desired for an extra kick.