We all have our comfort foods and one of mine is homemade fried rice. Fried rice is something I never eat in a restaurant though growing up in New York it was a mainstay in our routine Sunday evening Chinese delivery spread. When I think about what to cook for my daughter, two questions come to mind: is it balanced and would I feel good eating it. Homemade fried rice is a resounding yes! What I mean by balanced is whether is contains protein, veg and starch and in this version, I’ve got egg for protein, carrots, peas and scallion for veg, and cooked brown rice for a starch. As for the second criteria, I know I’ve met that one when I find myself scraping the bits off the side of the frying pan.
When cooking for children we know that time is of the essence – we’re all familiar with the “I’m not hungry, I’m not hungry, oh wait, I’m STARVING!!!” routine. Perhaps the greatest gift this dish has to offer is how fast and easy it is to make. That’s assuming you have some cooked rice in your fridge, which we always seem to have. Peel a carrot, throw some frozen peas in water, scramble an egg in a frying pan and toss the rest of your ingredients. Done!
Tips and Techniques:
- The beauty of this dish is its nutritional balance. You can literally add any veg or protein you want and it will still have that wonderfully comforting taste. Leftover chicken or pork are great substitutes for the egg. It’s also a great way to throw in some vegetables that your kids may be more reluctant to eat. For example finely chopped greens, broccoli or zucchini.
- Whenever I make eggs for my daughter I add a good splash of milk. I realize it’s a habit that I developed before my child would drink milk, when I was always scheming to get more calcium into her diet. It’s no longer a worry, but doesn’t hurt. I also like the texture it gives to the eggs.
- Peas are a great veg to keep in the freezer for your kid. I cook with them all the time. To avoid adding extra water to your dish by letting them defrost during the cooking process, just throw them in some warm tap water while you’re preparing the rest of your ingredients. When you’re ready to use them, just strain them and throw them in.
- Hard root vegetables like carrots and beets can be difficult for kids to eat raw and lose a lot of their nutritional value and taste when overcooked. I like to use a peeler with these vegetables and then give the peels a rough chop. This guarantees that they’ll cook in seconds.You’ll need a peeler that allows you to make something other than those flimsy little strands, otherwise a shredder or Microplane is also an option.
- If you don’t have leftover rice and are cooking some for this dish, it’s a good idea to let it cool first. This helps to ensure that the rice is a bit drier and the dish remains light.
Fried Rice with Egg, Peas, and Carrots
- 1 egg
- Splash of milk (optional)
- 1/3 cup peas, defrosted
- 1 medium carrot
- 1 scallion, green part only
- 2/3 cup cooked rice
- Olive oil
- Splash of toasted black sesame oil (optional)
- Pinch of kosher salt (optional)
Take your peas out of the freezer and soak them in some warm water. There’s no need to boil the water, warm water from the tap is fine. Take the leftover rice out of the refrigerator.
Peel the carrot once around and discard the outer most layer. Continue to peel the rest of the carrot as far down as you can. Roughly chop the peels. Thinly slice the scallion using the green part only. Crack one egg in a bowl, add a splash of milk, and beat them together.
Heat a small frying pan and add some olive oil. Once the oil is warm, add the carrots and let sauté for less than a minute. Add the scallion and the egg and scramble them together keeping the egg moving around the pan. Once the egg is mostly cooked, add the rice and stir. Finish with a splash of toasted sesame oil and a pinch of salt.
Total cooking time: approximately 10 minutes.