The first time I tasted garlic fried rice, I thought, “HELLO BEAUTIFUL, where have you been all my life?” The Maharlika-Jeepney crew, a local Filipino restaurant group, ran a pop-up in downtown Brooklyn. In addition to being very happy to eat it, I remember feeling a little cheated. It was as if my life had been retroactively diminished by not having eaten this simple, five-ingredient vegan side dish before.
Was I being dramatic? Hello?!?!?!—DRAMA is my middle name! It was like finally meeting the man or woman of your dreams at senior-citizens’ home and wishing you’d met way earlier. You know you’re going to stay together the rest of your life, but wish you’d met in kindergarten. Yes, I realize if I met him that early on, it might not have worked out. However, if I’d eaten garlic rice in kindergarten I’d certainly still be eating it and we would have had so much more time together…. SOB!!!
This recipe makes perfect use of leftover rice of any kind—perhaps not sticky rice, but you could use quinoa, buckwheat or another already cold, cooked grain that you want to use up. Whatever you use, make sure it’s cold, not just cooled.
- 10 garlic cloves, minced
- 4 cups rice, white long grain, cooked and cold
- 1/4 cup peanut, safflower or equivalent high flash point oil for frying
- kosher salt
- freshly ground black pepper
- You will need a fine stainless steel strainer or spider to fish the garlic out of the oil
- Mix the minced garlic with 2 teaspoons of kosher salt and lay on a paper towel for 10 minutes. Press to squeeze out the excess garlic water.
- Line a plate with a piece of paper towel.
- Heat oil in a large, heavy bottomed skillet or a wok, over medium heat. Add garlic, making sure to scrape all of it from the paper towel—it tends to stick.
- Fry oil to just before golden, being careful not to overcook it. About 2 minutes. Carefully fish all the garlic out of the pan with the strainer or the spider and drain it on the paper towels.
- Put the rice in the pan and fry it for a few minutes. Add half the fried garlic. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste.
- Place rice in a serving bowl and top with remaining garlic. Serve.
I keep this dish simple because that’s how I first had it and I like to eat it as a side dish and not the main event. I certainly make more complex fried rice like Bacon Fried Rice. You can add some cooked scrambled eggs, soy, scallions or anything else you like. ENJOY!