Things have been a little crazy around here. I’ve been juggling one thing after another, starting up this and working on that. It’s exciting, encouraging and hectic. And because of this added component as I try to fit a slice of life into my already jampackedfullwithnoroomtospare schedule, I’ve been cutting some corners on dinner lately and – gasp – planning ahead.
A funny thing this planning ahead on how it gets you prepared for the unexpected. I wish I could say I plan ahead all the time, but I tend to wait until the last minute when it comes to dinner, which has left us dinnerless because I realize oh too late that I was supposed to take the meat out of the freezer a day earlier or get a pizza dough proofing at 3:30, at which time I was scrambling to get as much work crammed in before the kids woke up from their naps and my precious silence gone. Turns out that with a bit of planning you can juggle basketball practice drop-offs, impromptu shopping trips followed by preschool conferences and basketball practice pick-ups and your husband leaving you right at the end of the meal for his curling match, all the while managing to stay sane. Well, at least sane enough for everyone around you to not be painfully aware of the insanity.
Start with quality rice. I have jasmine rice from the Asian market in a sack. It makes me happy. There are lots of rice varietals that make me happy, but long grain white is not one of them. Get something fragrant. You can make it ahead of time. In fact, it’s better if you do because for this, your rice should be cold. Not warm, not sweaty from steam; cold and dry. I made extra when we were having rice with a different meal and stashed it in the fridge for this.
Same with the chicken. While you’re welcome to cook them just before or even in the wok as you make the rest of the dish, do yourself a favor and make this easier by tossing an extra breast or thigh or two or three on the grill as you are making something else. We made our chicken during a chicken fajita grilling session by just adding a few extra with salt and pepper only to the grill.
In a large wok add a bit of oil over a medium heat. Then toss in a bunch of minced garlic and fresh ginger. Only cook it for 30 seconds.
Next come the vegetables. Turn the heat to high and add the longest-cooking vegetables first. Mine happen to be mushrooms. Then I added scallions, bottoms and then green tops, and finally, I tossed in the bean sprouts just long enough to get them warm.
While your vegetables are sautéing, mix up a bit of sauce. A good sauce to me is crucial. It is what will make or break a fried rice. To mine I added soy sauce (of course), sesame oil and rice wine.
Both the rice and the sauce get added.
Mix and stir and let fry until all the rice is heated through. Check for taste and adjust as necessary, adding more soy sauce as needed to control salt and black pepper if you’re a fan.
A few sides and you have a full meal, a bowl of rice perfect for nights when you don’t have a lot of time but aren’t willing to sacrifice it in flavor. Besides, it’s heavenly to eat, and it will keep you sane on those nights when you aren’t sure you can make it through.