Is Fried Rice really a Superfood? Studies suggest leftover rice may have 60% less calories than freshly cooked rice; can improve gut health; reduce glucose spikes and inflammation and potentially ward off colon cancer.
Have you heard of resistant starch? Sri Lankan research results suggest that cooling down cooked rice (and pasta and potatoes!) changes the structure of the rice so it is less absorbable by the human body. You should cool it for 12 hours. Then, even if you reheat it the structure has already changed so it is still resistant starch. Because resistant starch is not absorbed in the large intestine it passes to the small intestine and acts as dietary fiber.
Recent research seems to reconfirm the health benefits of resistant starch. ‘One of the main reasons why resistant starch improves health, is that it feeds the friendly bacteria in the intestine and increases production of short-chain fatty acids like butyrate.’
Butyrate feeds the friendly bacteria in your gut and cells in the colon. What isn’t used there may pass to the bloodstream and other parts of your body with potential other beneficial effects on insulin resistance, inflammation reduction.
Much of the research has been done on animals and still needs to be tested on humans. You can read more detail here. There are lots of links that will take you to research results…you can get lost in this topic for hours!
Regardless, there doesn’t seem to be any down side to rewarming leftover rice or pasta so I am going for it!
This recipe came together when I was doing my weekly fridge review. Half a head of broccoli here, some celery, some red pepper there. You can mix up the the vegetables to suit what you have on hand.
Mushrooms and peas would be classic additions.
The key here though is that you have to start with leftover rice to get the right texture. I often make a big batch of plain rice and freeze it in 2 cup portions.
- Fried rice is all about texture so you need to start with a short or medium grain rice. Basmati or jasmine work really well. You do not want to over cook it. If it is mushy after the initial cooking it will never be distinct, separate grains after. Avoid sushi or sticky rice.
- Rinse the rice before you cook it the first time. The minimum is a quick 30 second rinse under the tap. You can go for a 30 minutes soak, draining off the starchy water and replenishing periodically.
- 12 hours of cooling is recommended to avoid mushiness and stickiness on the refry. This gives the rice time to thoroughly dry out during the cooling process. (and turn it into resistant starch!)
- Break the rice up when you remove it from the fridge. Cooled rice may have taken on the shape of the container it was stored in. Gently break the grains apart before you add to the pan.
- Add the rice to a hot pan with hot oil. It should sizzle when you add it. Use a large skillet so the rice has lots of surface to spread out. It it is all clumped up in small pan the rice not in contact with with skillet surface will steam instead of fry. ie… mushy!
- When you add the egg, push the rice off to side and stir the egg, without it touching the rice, until it is cooked and broken into small pieces. You don’t want the liquid egg to bind the rice together as it cooks.
- Add your finely chopped vegetables, stirring often. Big chunks of vegetables will make a strange texture against the much smaller rice grains.
- Don’t overdo the liquid additions – you don’t want to soak the rice in liquid and turn it mushy.
Sound complicated? Not really… no special equipment or techniques required – just a few simple tips to make sure you don’t end up spooning out clumps of rice.
Check out these chicken, pork and vegetable recipes to go with the rice.
Vegetable Fried Rice - Superfood?
- 1 Tbsp vegetable oil
- 3 cups leftover rice (cooled at least 12 hours)
- 2 cups vegetables (see Notes)
- 1 Tbsp soy sauce
- 1 egg
- Remove rice from refrigerator and gently break it apart.
- Heat oil in a large skillet over high heat. When oil is really hot, add the rice. It should sizzle as it hits the pan. Stir quickly.
- Push rice to the side and break eggs into the hot pan. Stir quickly so they cook without touching the rice. When egg is cooked and broken into small pieces stir into the rice.
- Add the vegetables and stir to mix and heat through.
- Add the soy sauce, stir and heat through.