Easy Basil Fried Rice

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I love food! I guess that’s quite obvious by now! But seriously, I do enjoy a variety of cuisine – sambols and rotis from my homeland, Sri Lanka, pasta dishes characteristic of Italy, slow rendered duck breast and macarons from France, tacos and fajitas from south of the border, curries and rice dishes from India, Pakistan, China, Thailand….And the list goes on!

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Each cuisine is unique and unparalleled with incredible flavor combinations, textures, colors and taste! I have a bit of a special fondness for Thai dishes – perhaps it’s the coconut milk and ample use of green chili. So, I had this craving for a yummy Thai fried rice, but without having to go for takeout.

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I was pretty sure I had the basic ingredients handy – basil, fish sauce, palm sugar, rice, eggs and a medley of vegetables. A quick look through the refrigerator and pantry confirmed my hunch! So, after perusing through a few recipes for inspiration, I decided to use my own pseudo blend of Thai seasonings! I figured even it didn’t taste Thai at all, it will still be pretty darn good. And good it was! In fact, it was probably better than good. My family loved it and both my kids (one who hates fish sauce and the other who has a pretty discerning taste for fried rice) actually verbally acknowledged that the rice was good. That, in my books, is a pretty big win!

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This rice is especially good, made with a day old rice kept in the refrigerator. If you are like me and have a freshly cooked batch, just spread 2 cups of the cooked rice on a plate and chill till you prepare the ingredients. It worked fine. I think day-old rice just helps to keep the kernels separate – like in restaurants.

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Easy Basil Fried Rice

  • Servings: 4
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Ingredients
2 cups cooked rice, preferably a day old kept overnight in the refrigerator
2 tablespoons canola oil
2 cups of chopped vegetables of your choice (I used carrots, onions, savoy cabbage and celery)
2 eggs
1/4 cup roughly chopped basil leaves

Seasoning:
1 tablespoon fish sauce
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon minced ginger
2 large cloves of garlic, minced
2 tablespoons ketchup (I used tomato sauce)
1 tablespoon sugar (I used palm sugar)
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
Sprinkling of crushed red peppers, optional

Preparation
1. In a small bowl, combine all the seasoning ingredients. Set aside.
2. Heat a large saute pan or wok over high heat. Add the oil and saute the vegetables for 3-5 minutes.
3. Add the rice and seasoning mix. Toss to mix thoroughly. Spread the rice and vegetables across the pan to allow them “fry” a bit more” – another 3 minutes or so.
4. Push the rice and vegetables to the edge of the pan, creating a well in the center for the eggs.
5. Lightly beat the eggs and pour in the center of the pan. Let set and scramble. Mix the egg with the rice and vegetables.
6. Remove from heat and serve with meat or vegetable stir fry and/or an Asian cucumber salad.

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Pad Thai Style Asian Noodles

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Pad Thai is probably the most common Thai dish enjoyed in North America! It is a dish that offers a perfect balance of flavors. One down side is that if you prefer spicy food, this probably won’t be your top choice at a Thai restaurant. I prefer Pad See Ew or other spicy options when we dine at Thai restaurants, but occasionally I do enjoy the delicate flavors of Pad Thai.

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This recipe is inspired by traditional Pad Thai. I say inspired because it uses different blend of sauces/seasoning and vegetables. Served with a side of crispy cucumbers, red onions and jalapeno in a sweet and sour dressing, this noodle will taste light and refreshing.

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Pad Thai Style Asian Noodles

  • Servings: 4
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Ingredients 8 oz wide rice noodles
2 tablespoons oil
2 cups of shredded napa cabbage
1 large carrot, shredded
3 green onions, chopped
2 large cloves of garlic, minced
1/4 inch piece of ginger, minced
½ lb medium uncooked shrimp or boneless, skinless chicken, cut into bite size pieces
1 tablespoon corn starch

Sauce for the noodles 3 tablespoons sweet dark soy sauce
2 tablespoons fish sauce
1 dime sized ball of tamarind pulp dissolved in ¼ cup warm water
1 clove of garlic, minced,
¼ inch piece of ginger, minced
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
1 green onion, minced

Garnish
1 lime quartered
¼ cup toasted peanuts, crushed

Preparation
1. Bring a pot of water to boil and cook noodles according to instructions. Drain and set aside.
2. Prepare the sauce for the noodles by combining all the ingredients and simmering under low heat for 5-10 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.
3. In a large skillet or wok, heat one tablespoon of oil under high heat. Stir fry shrimp (or chicken) coated in cornstarch till cooked through. Remove to a plate and set aside till later.
4. Add the remaining tablespoon of oil to the wok and add ginger and garlic, followed by all vegetables. Stir fry the vegetables for about 3-5 minutes.
5. Add the cooked shrimp or chicken and follow with the sauce. Mix well.
6. Add the cooked noodles and gently toss to combine.
7. Serve immediately with a wedge of lime, a generous sprinkling of peanuts and a crisp cucumber salad!