Chinese Fried rice, or Chahan as it is called in Japan, is a dish that I became obsessed with while in Japan. It appeals on the same level as french fries, but with more respectability- based on a gluten free starch, rice, fried rice is delicious, rich salty goodness that goes well with any kind of protein or can even stand alone as a satisfying meal. It’s actually better if it’s made from slightly stale, cold rice so is also a great way to use up leftovers. But what should go into a fried rice?
According to Wikipedia, “Ingredients used in fried rice are greatly varied. They include vegetables such as carrots, bean sprouts, celery, peas, and others, as well as chicken, pork (usually Char siu), shrimp, or tofu. Often cooked in a wok, it includes vegetable oil or animal fat to prevent sticking, as well as for flavor. Bits of egg provide color in many dishes. Chile pepper or hot sauces often add a piquant touch to this dish or are offered in a small dish separate to the rice. Many cooks season the fried rice with black pepper. Soy sauce gives fried rice its brown colour and savory taste. Often, onions and garlic add complexity and extra flavor. It is popularly eaten either as an accompaniment to another dish or, alternatively on its own as a course by itself.” (source: Wikipedia)
Most restaurants and many home chefs add wheat based soy sauce to fried rice, making it off limits both to those who are gluten free and soy free. When I make fried rice, in the past I’ve used a recipe that included seafood and wheat free soy sauce. But I really wanted to make a great vegetarian fried rice that didn’t have soy sauce so that my soy intolerant friends could enjoy it as well. But how could I make up for the missing dark, salty notes of soy sauce? I decided to use a sauce with two kinds of alcohol, freshly squeezed ginger juice, and some vegetable broth made from my favorite vegetarian, gluten free bullion cube. I also used generous amounts of salt, sesame oil, and chili oil to up the decadence of the dish. And, to add additional flavor and a little gourmet oomph, I used some leftover szechuan peppercorn oil that I had used in a Szechuan Peppercorn Chinese Peas. Because I felt like the dish needed a savory, grilled component I grilled seasoned broccoli and petit pan squash to add depth of flavor replacing the smoky flavor that ham would usually provide. And the result? A resounding success that was perfectly vegetarian, allergy friendly, and still so delicious I could hardly stop eating it. If you have some poor, unloved rice in your fridge- why not transform it into pure Chinese fried goodness? It’s bound to please even the most fervent of meat eaters in your household- if you’re willing to share, that is. ;)
If you’d like to try other gluten free fried rice recipes, why not check out
Naomi’s sprouted fried rice at the Accidental Vegetarian
or a.c.e.’s recipes for thai fried rice or meaty fried rice at Don’t Need no Stinking Wheat
or a more traditional recipe at About.Com for Yang Chow Rice that somehow doesn’t use soy sauce
Vegetarian Soy Free Fried Rice Recipe
Marinade for broccoli:
1 tbsp sesame oil
1 tsp grill seasonings
For Petit Pan Squash:
10 drops of sesame chili oil
1 head of broccoli, cut into easy to grill flat strips or into florets with long but thin stalks
1 petit pan squash, sliced horizontally into thin slices
2 tbsp schezuan peppercorn oil OR other favorite oil
3 cloves garlic, smashed lightly
3 cups cooked white rice, preferably cold and left in refrigerator overnight
1 whole carrot, peeled and diced into small squares
1/2 cup green peas
bottom half of 3 green onions, diced
top half of 1 green onion, chopped
1 tbsp mirin
1 tbsp GOOD GF vegetable broth
juice from one knob of ginger (1 inch, grated and then squeezed)
glub of sherry
generous amount of freshly ground pepper
1 tsp sesame oil
First combine marinade for veggies and then dip the head of each broccoli floret into the oil, placing them on a clean dish. Baste stalks with any additional oil. (Don’t be afraid to use your hands- get that oil on the broccoli!)
Drip a few drops of each sesame chili oil on one side of the sliced petite pan squash and swirl it on the surface, stacking them so that they oil the unseasoned side of the other slices.
Heat your grill (propane is easiest) and grill your veggies so that broccoli is crispy on the edges and squash slices have grill marks on each side but are NOT burnt.
Cut off broccoli florets into cute little baby florets. Chop the remaining stem into small bite size pieces.
Stack your patty pan squash and chop into squares.
Place wok back on the hot stove and add 1/2 tbsp of your peppercorn, letting it heat and then adding a generous pinch of salt. Throw in your eggs and stir them briefly, and then add cold rice, stirring to combine and making sure there are not clumps of rice. After you’ve stirred it thoroughly, add a little bit of sesame oil to the bottom of the wok and mix it in. Add your sauteed mixture of veggies and make sure it’s warm. Throw in that last half of chopped green onion tops. Taste and add any additional seasonings you feel necessary.
This may be gluten free, dairy free, soy free, and vegetarian but it is deliberately not ALL that healthy, thanks to copious amounts of salt and sesame oil. The point is to approach the decadence of your typical Chinese fried rice takeaway with all its meaty, MSG enhanced, greasy goodness. Well, maybe this is a LITTLE BIT better for you than that- but it’s also Damned Tasty. Try it and see!
Szechuan Peppercorn Oil
1 cup peanut oil or other favorite oil (not olive oil)
1 1/2 tbsp Szechuan peppercorn
Heat a wok on high and add Szechuan to pan, tossing lightly. Turn heat to low and toast peppercorn lightly, stirring frequently- about a minute and a half. Add the peanut oil and raise heat to medium or medium high, depending on your stove. Once oil begins to bubble lightly (if it ever does), lower heat and let cook until peppercorns turn black. This is supposed to take four or five minutes, but it took a long time for the peppercorns to turn black on my stove. Let cool and strain into a glass container (with a lid). Will keep for one or two months in a cool place. You can use the peppercorn in stock, so keep them in the refrigerator.