Friday, 24 May 2013

Spicy stir-fried rice

It's quite hard to cook one portion of rice for a meal and it hardly seems worth it - cooking two portions so you have leftovers is much smarter. And leftover rice is the basis of a plate of stir-fried rice - the secret to making it properly is to use cooked rice that has been chilled as when it's straight out of the cooking pan it's too warm and damp to get a good result.

This dish doesn't have to be Chinese in style - I don't own a wok and if I'm going to scramble an egg it'll be for my breakfast rather than for this. I take my inspiration instead from spicy rice dishes such as nasi goreng or kedgeree. As well as using up rice, I take the opportunity to clear out my fridge to use up some veg. Then all I need is some spice paste of some sort.

This is quick - just 5 minutes to prepare and 5-10 in the pan.

What you need: 
1 portion of leftover cooked rice, chilled
1 small chicken fillet, cut into bite-size pieces
2 spring onions, sliced 
1 small carrot, cut into julienne strips
A handful of peas
Curry paste of some sort, about a tablespoon
1 egg (optional)

What to do:
Prepare the veg and chicken. Heat about 2tbsp vegetable oil in a wok or sauteuse and get it very hot. Toss in the chicken and stir-fry it for 4-5 minutes then add all the veg and fry for another 2 minutes. Stir in a generous tablespoon of curry paste and fry for another minute. Lastly, add the rice - break up any lumps and fry it for a good 3-4 minutes so it's thoroughly reheated and all the chicken pieces and veg are evenly distributed through it.

If you're very hungry, top it with a fried egg Indonesian style - well-cooked rather than soft.

Cook's tips:
The chicken doesn't have to be fresh - frying off some leftover cooked chicken or diced lamb works fine, or use cooked prawns. Likewise, the veg are flexible - use diced pepper, sweetcorn, mushrooms or edamame beans, whatever you have to hand.

Cooked rice needs to be handled with care as it's possible to get bacillus cereus food poisoning from it. Chill it quickly after cooking, put it in a bowl and store it in the fridge. And be sure to reheat it thoroughly to kill off any toxins.

Which curry paste? If you're using an Indian one, go for mild rather than fiercely hot. I made this one with some rending paste. If you can find it, nasi goreng paste is the clear winner, but Thai curry paste also works - I use less than a tablespoon of the red sort and avoid the searing heat of the green.