Comfort cooking

Back to basics with meat-free fried rice

Wondering what to cook today? STFood Online Editor Hedy Khoo whips up easy eats to try at home

ST PHOTO: HEDY KHOO

How does one have a one-dish meal that is rather spartan, yet still tasty? Give eggs a rest and try cooking meat-free olive vegetable fried rice that packs a savoury punch.

The olive vegetable, sold in jars, is easily available and useful to keep in your pantry. Made from olives and mustard greens, the mixture looks like oily black moss.

As awful as it looks to those who are not familiar with it, this vegetable is tasty and adds plenty of flavour to anything you cook it with.

My grandmother used to eat it straight from the jar, with porridge. I do that too, sometimes. There is something simple and comforting about the condiment.

To cook in smaller or larger portions, follow the ratio of one rice cup of long-grain rice (150g) to three-quarters of a rice cup of water (135ml) when using the rice cooker. This ratio results in dry cooked rice, which makes it possible to fry the freshly cooked rice without it turning out mushy or overcooked. There is no need to use overnight rice.

I add French beans and celery for crunch and flavour. You can also use long beans. If you cannot get fresh vegetables, use frozen mixed vegetables or frozen peas. Reduce the cooking time if using these.

For a bare-bones version, all you need is chopped garlic and olive vegetable to fry with plain rice. It is a useful recipe for days when you want to rustle up a quick tasty meal without having to shop for ingredients.

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OLIVE VEGETABLE FRIED RICE

INGREDIENTS

• 3 rice cups of long-grain rice (450g), rinsed

• 405ml water

• 4 Tbs cooking oil

• 4 garlic cloves, chopped

• 300g French beans, sliced diagonally, 0.5cm in width

• ¼ tsp sugar

• ¼ tsp salt

• 2 celery stalks (100g), peeled and sliced

• 2 Tbs light soya sauce

• 180g olive vegetable

METHOD

1. Place the washed rice and water into the rice cooker to cook. Once the rice is cooked, set aside.

2. Heat the cooking oil in a non-stick frying pan over high heat.

3. Add the chopped garlic, fry for 15 seconds and add the French beans.

4. Season with the sugar and salt.

5. Stir-fry the French beans for four minutes until they are almost translucent.

6. Add the celery and rice.

7. Add the light soya sauce.

8. Stir-fry for one minute, using a frying slice to mix the rice and ingredients together.

9. Add the olive vegetable. Stir-fry thoroughly for five minutes to distribute it throughout the dish as evenly as possible.

10. To get a layer of scorched rice at the bottom of the pan, stop stir-frying and allow the rice to cook undisturbed in the pan for five minutes. Once you hear a crackling sound, turn off the heat and serve immediately.

Serves four to five

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 27, 2021, with the headline 'Back to basics with meat-free fried rice'. Subscribe