Rice is probably my favourite grain. It’s so versatile and delicious!
I love purposely making extra rice because there’s so many delicious ways to use it up. Rice pudding is one of my preferred ways to use the leftover rice to make a delicately sweet breakfast or dessert… and I’ve got a delicious recipe for that coming up in my e-cookbook launching this July… but fried rice is definitely a food I love to eat and now that I’ve perfected the flavour profile and process, it will be happening a whole lot more often at home!
We were lucky enough to find an amazing Vietnamese and Thai restaurant called Lemongrass that’s not too far away in Hamilton and offers incredible vegan and vegetarian options. Their vegetable fried rice dish was literally the best I’ve ever had. I’m a bit addicted.
This recipe is inspired by the Lemongrass dish I’ve fallen in love with – even down to how the tofu has been cut and fried. I’m not sure what they use to flavour the dish, but this hits really, really close. It may even be a bit better… can there be a better between the two? Probably not, just different.
I prefer to eat and cook with basmati rice, but you could easily substitute any other rice keeping in mind the potential textural difference.
Makes 4 servings
– 4 cups cooked basmati rice
– 1 block extra-firm tofu (this needs to be cut and pressed ahead of time – see directions below) optional
– 1 leek, halved and sliced
– 2 green onions, diced, greens & whites separated
– ½ cup frozen corn or fresh cooked *
– ½ cup frozen green peas or fresh cooked *
– ½ frozen diced carrots or fresh diced (about 1 large carrot) *
– ½ frozen cut green beans or fresh cut *
– 3 tbsp tamari or coconut aminos
– 2 tbsp avocado oil (or other heat-resistant oil)
– 1 tsp garlic powder
– 1 tsp ginger powder
– ⅛ tsp Chinese 5 spice
* You can substitute these four ingredients with 2 cups of frozen mixed vegetables. *
1.To cut and drain the tofu, remove from packaging and lay tofu flat on a cutting board with the largest surface facing up. Cut in half. Cut each half in half. Cut each quarter in half again. You should now have 8 equal rectangular slices of tofu. Set these with paper towel or clean dish towels on bottom and on top of the tofu, place another cutting board on top of the towel, and place the heaviest weight you can find on top of the board – I typically use my cast iron dutch oven pots as a weight. This needs to press for at least one hour to remove moisture so you can get a nice firm fry on the tofu later on.
2. Cut the tofu into bite-sized pieces. I like to cut each of the 8 tofu rectangles in half one more time, very carefully, so now you have 16 thin slices of tofu. From here I cut each thin slice in half to form two thin squares, then cut each square in half on the diagonal, so each slice of tofu creates 4 triangle pieces. You’ll have 64 pieces total!
3. Heat oil in a large frying pan or wok over medium-high heat. Add the tofu, stirring frequently to coat in oil and distribute the heat evenly. Keep the tofu moving so it doesn’t burn, until you see a very gentle golden colour developing, about 4-5 minutes. It may still feel soft to the touch, but this is the perfect time to remove the tofu and set it aside in a bowl to cool – it will continue to firm up as it cools. Use a slotted spoon to remove the tofu, leaving behind the oil for the rest of the dish.
4. With the remaining oil hot in the pan or wok, heat still on medium-high, add the leek and white slices of green onion, and stir to coat. Let this cook for 2-3 minutes, until soft and beginning to turn golden at the tips, stirring frequently to keep it from burning.
5. Add the corn, green peas, carrot, and green beans (or mixed vegetables) to the pan/wok and stir to coat. Let this cook for 3-5 minutes, stirring frequently, until all the vegetables are fully cooked through and soft.
6. Add the rice, and stir thoroughly to keep the heat distributing and to evenly mix the rice and vegetables.
8. Add the tofu you fried earlier to the pan/wok. Whisk together the garlic power, ginger powder, Chinese 5 spice, and tamari/aminos and pour into the pan/wok. Keep stirring to combine while also shaking the pan/wok to keep everything moving.
9. Serve hot and garnish with the green slices of the green onion.