One of my great joys during the pandemic has been ordering takeout food.
In addition to the fact that it gets me out of the house for a minute, I think I enjoy it so much because restaurant food wasn’t something I brought home often (or really ever) before the world shut down. The whole experience feels like a big luxury for me.
As a replacement for “date nights,” my fiancé and I just get a bunch of food from a local restaurant we haven’t tried before and then eat it on our couch. We both get really excited about it, which is maybe a little lame, but this pandemic feels never-ending, and we’re doing the best we can.
Of course, as much as I love eating something someone else has made, I also love a cooking challenge. For this month’s issue of About, I decided to try replicating takeout food in my own kitchen.
A quick search on Pinterest for “takeout food” yielded one result over and over: fried rice. Actually, a recipe for “Better than Takeout Fried Rice.” I was sold.
I picked a cast iron skillet to make my fried rice in, since I don’t have a wok and since the cast iron makes everything better.
I am about to sound incredibly dumb, and I am embarrassed I’m going to admit this, but it never occurred to me that you cook your rice first and then fry the cooked rice in the pan in order to make fried rice. I just figured you make it in the skillet somehow? Anyway, once I realized it’s literally that simple and does not require special skills, I saw no reason I couldn’t make this recipe all the time. It was quick, I didn’t have to buy that many ingredients, and I had fun making it.
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One of my favorite to-go dishes the past few months has been pineapple fried rice, so I dumped a cup of drained pineapple tidbits in my rice before I added the soy sauce and the green onion garnish. The only other modification I made was I ended up using more soy sauce than the recipe called for, just because I wanted the flavor to be stronger.
I loved this fried rice. Loved it. So good. But it tasted a little different from takeout fried rice, and I can’t figure out why. I feel like there’s an ingredient the recipe didn’t call for, and that adding that ingredient in would make it an exact replica. I’m not sure what it is, and it’s going to bug me.
The recipe yielded enough for two of us to each eat a big bowl of rice for dinner, so if you’re cooking for a crowd, I’d double it.
3 cups cooked jasmine rice
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1/4 large Vidalia onion, chopped
2 cloves of minced garlic
1 cup frozen peas and carrots
2 large eggs
1/2 teaspoon sesame oil
3 tablespoon soy sauce
1. In a large skillet or wok, preheat oil over medium heat, and add onion and garlic. Cook until onions are soft, about 2 to 3 minutes. Stir occasionally to keep the garlic from burning.
2. Add peas and carrots, and cook until partially thawed, 1 to 2 minutes.
3. Turn the heat up to medium high, and add cooked rice. Cook for another 2 to 3 minutes until rice is nice and hot and starts to brown. Reduce heat, and push rice to the sides of the pan, making a hole for the eggs.
4. Crack the eggs into the middle of the pan and scramble. Once eggs are cooked, stir them into the rice.
5. Mix soy sauce and sesame oil together, and pour over rice. Stir until rice is evenly coated with sauce.
6. Top with chopped green onions and/or cilantro (optional).