This dish soothed my soul when I was half a world away from home.
You see, I lived in China for a semester teaching English. Bless their souls, the school cooked for us since we lived on campus. But, “cooked” might be a bit of an exaggeration. Their chef coulda used some help! Let’s just say that I came home looking and feeling starved. Silver lining–it was a great pre-wedding diet since I got married five months later.
When I couldn’t handle the mystery meat any longer, I’d take money out of my travel fund to splurge. I’d walk probably half a mile each way to what my co-teacher’s and I called “The Rice Man”. (I know, our nomenclature skills were top-notch.)
This humble Chinese man, who worked out of a tent on the side of the road, made the best Fried Rice that side of the Great Wall. While it screamed “health code” it also was DELICIOUS.
It tasted divine, and I would savor every greasy, grain of rice. It’d make me feel a little less homesick since my mom made fried rice all while growing up. Plus, I find it’s hard to be upset when you are satisfied and full. Bless than man! I hope he truly overcharged us, as it was worth every yuan!
I still like to try my hand at eating it with chopsticks, but my skills have vastly degraded since coming home. Whether you eat it with chopsticks, a fork, spoon, or your hands you’ll be sure to like it. Plus, with so many customizable add-ins, it’s sure to please anyone, even “The Rice Man” would approve.
Ham Fried Rice (GF, DF, Egg Free, Peanut and Tree Nut Free)
Adapted from Our Best Bites
1.5 c. brown rice + 3 c. water (OR 3 c. cold, leftover rice, which is actually better)
4 Tbsp. olive oil
1/4 c. minced red onion
2 Tbsp. chopped green onions
1/2 Tbsp. minced garlic
1/4 c. chopped carrots
1/2 c. chopped mushrooms (I just use the entire container of button mushrooms)
4 large romaine leaves
1 large slice of Ham, cubed
1/2 cup frozen peas
2-4 generous Tbsp. soy sauce, depending on taste (I like La Choy–be careful though! Many popular brands have wheat/gluten in them!)
1 Tbsp. dried onion
1 Tbsp. Kosher salt
1 tsp. garlic powder
1 ½ tsp. sugar
Boil water and add rice. Reduce heat to low, cover, and cook for 45 minutes. (Note: brown rice takes much longer to cook, but is well worth it nutrient wise. If you’re in a hurry, use white rice.) This step can be done even up to 2-3 days in advance Heat oil over medium heat and saute onions, carrots, mushrooms, peas and romaine until carrots are tender. Add cooked rice, soy sauce, and seasoning to taste (you won’t even come close to using all of it; save the rest for future fried rice or use as you would seasoning salt.)
Notes: This can be tailor-made to fit picky appetites. While I find it a good way to sneak in veggies, you can omit any of them, use less or more as you please. Just be sure to adjust the seasoning and soy sauce to taste!
Also, I like to get my ham cut as thick as they will cut it at the deli. I get one large slab. Thankfully, my grocer uses a separate slicer for meat and cheese. Be sure to ask if you have dairy allergies. I also ask them to change into fresh gloves before preparing mine. If you don’t trust your deli, I’ve used ham lunch meat in a pinch.
Lastly, my husband and I adore scrambled eggs in ours. Thankfully, my son is not contact or airborne reactive to eggs. I make it in a separate pan, with a separate spatula and just toss some on our individual plates. Totally go with what you’re comfortable with.