Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Southeast Asian Fried Rice

I love turning fried rice into a full meal! By adding lots of filling veggies, you can take a small amount of rice and a small amount of chicken and turn it into something very healthy and satisfying.

I have already posted recipes for fried rice, a "clean out the fridge" version and a tempeh version, both stemming from Mark Bittman's recipe. This time, I came across a Cooking Light version that I wanted to try. Instead of pork, they call for just two strips of bacon, which gives you a lot of bang for your buck in terms of flavor. It also calls for fish sauce and chili paste, two more efficient ways to add flavor.

By the way, I'm really loving Cooking Light right now. I have subscribed to them for years, but sometimes their recipes were very bland, and they relied on things I didn't buy, like light butter and condensed soups. This past year though, I feel like they have made some major transformations. First of all, I love the photography now. Second, their recipes revolve around whole foods and fresh, natural ingredients. They even have recipes from Mark Bittman, calling for "less meat, more flavor". If you had cast them aside a few years ago, it might be worth checking them out again.

Southeast Asian Fried Rice
adapted from Cooking Light - January 2010
serves 4

Notes: We didn't have fresh ground chile paste, but we did have a huge tub of red curry paste, which I figured would achieve basically the same effect (it tasted great to us!). For the chicken, instead of the exact amounts of white and dark meat that the recipe called for, I just had a wing and a breast, so I used that (we were working our way through a whole chicken and that's what we ended up having available for this meal).

Also, rather than cooking and crumbling the bacon separately like the recipe says, I cooked the bacon in the pan I planned to cook the rice in and used the bacon grease in place of some of the oil. If you happen to already have cooked bacon (leftover from breakfast, perhaps), use two teaspoons of oil in the first step (where you add the rice) instead of just one.

Feel free to get creative with the vegetable additions; chopped tomato, green beans, carrots, and bean sprouts would all be good here. I added a handful of shredded carrots along with the broccoli and red pepper because I had a big bag of them on hand.

1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 tablespoon fish sauce
1 tablespoon soy sauce (lower sodium or regular)
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
1 teaspoon sambal oelek (ground fresh chile paste), divided (we didn't have that, so we used red curry paste)
1/4 teaspoon salt, divided
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 small bunch green onions
 2 tablespoons peanut oil, divided (we were out, so we used grapeseed oil)
2 bacon slices (cooked and crumbled, or not, see note above)
2 1/2 cups cooked and cooled brown rice
1/4 cup vertically sliced shallots
2 (4 ounce) skinless, boneless chicken thighs, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 (6 ounce) skinless, boneless chicken breast, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
2 cups broccoli florets
1 cup julienne-cut red bell pepper
1 1/2 teaspoons minced garlic
Cooking spray
4 lime wedges

In a small bowl, whisk together the brown sugar, fish sauce, soy sauce, lime juice, 1/2 teaspoon chile (or curry) paste, and 1/8 teaspoon salt.

In another small bowl, whisk together the eggs and the remaining 1/2 teaspoon chile (or curry) paste.

For the green onions, slice off the green tops, thinly slice diagonally, and set aside. Take the thicker, lighter green parts of the onion and chop into 1-inch pieces, set aside. Discard the very bottoms.

Lay the uncooked strips of bacon in a large nonstick skillet. Turn the heat to medium-high. Cook the bacon, turning every so often, until crisp. Remove the strips and drain on a paper towel. When cool enough to handle, crumble into small pieces. Try not to eat too many.

Check the volume of bacon grease in the skillet. Add peanut oil as needed until you have about 2 teaspoons of grease/oil total. If you are starting with precooked bacon, just add 2 teaspoons to a large nonstick skillet and heat over medium high.

When the oil is hot, swirl to coat the pan, then add the rice. Stir-fry for about 1 or 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Transfer rice to a large bowl. Add two more teaspoons of oil to pan. Add shallots, stir-fry for about 30 seconds, until tender. Add the chicken and cook until lightly browned, about 1 1/2 minutes. Add the brown sugar mixture to the pan and bring to a boil. This will cook the inside of the chicken pieces. Reduce heat and simmer for about a minute, stirring occasionally. After the liquid has thickened slightly, transfer the contents of the pan to the bowl with the rice.

Wipe the skillet clean with a paper towel, and return to medium-high heat. Add 2 more teaspoons of oil and swirl to coat. Add the broccoli and bell pepper, stir fry until the vegetables are tender, about 3 minutes. Add the remaining 1/8 teaspoon salt, the 1-inch green onion pieces, and the garlic. Stir fry for just another minute or so, until fragrant. Return the chicken/rice mixture back to pan and stir to combine, cooking for a couple of minutes, until the mixture is thoroughly heated. Put the whole thing back into the bowl again.

Return the skillet to medium-high heat and coat with cooking spray.  Add the egg mixture to the pan and stir gently to scramble. As the egg cooks, break it up into small pieces. Add to the large bowl, along with the bacon, and gently mix everything together.

To serve, scoop about 1 1/2 cups of the rice mixture into each bowl. Top with the thinly sliced green onion tops and garnish with a lime wedge. We needed to add a bit more salt to our portions.


  1. YUM! I'm glad I saw Amy's post to this! I'm going to try it too! Thanks!

  2. Awesome, I'm sure you both will love it! And thanks for the post Amy! :-)

  3. This looks good! I love fried rice, and this looks much better than the recipes I've been using lately.

  4. While the flavourings are certainly Southeast Asian, you would never see fried rice like this in Southeast Asia. There, fried rice is mostly just rice, with very few vegetables if any. The vegetables would never ever be broccoli or peppers, neither of which is traditionally eaten in the region. Finally, it would always be white rice, never brown rice.

    This is just a comment and in no way a criticism of the dish you have made, which I actually think is much healthier than the authentic Southeast Asian fried rice. I just didn't think the title 'Southeast Asian fried rice' was the right one. To me it was more like 'Healthy-living fried brown rice made with Western ingredients and some Southeast Asian flavourings'.

  5. Anonymous - Point taken - this was the title given to the recipe in Cooking Light magazine.


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