Why This Recipe Works
- Starting with freshly cooked or well-chilled rice guarantees it won't clump up as you stir-fry it.
- Frying in batches compensates for the low heat output of Western stovetops.
- Blistering the green beans adds smoky flavor.
- Keeping the seasoning very light allows the flavor of the rice and aromatics to come through.
In today's episode from our continuing adventures in fried rice, I decided to take a slightly different approach, with a recipe that places nearly equal focus on vegetables and rice. Charred, blistered green beans are an excellent accompaniment to rice, and here the beans make up over 50% of the weight of the rice. To flavor it, I use garlic, scallions, Thai chiles, and a whole lot of fresh Thai basil.
Here's how I make it.
Start with a couple of cups of cooked jasmine rice. As I discovered in my initial testing with fried rice, using either freshly cooked rice or rice that has had a chance to chill in the fridge overnight works best. Avoid using rice that has been sitting for anywhere between one and six hours—it's more likely to clump.
The remaining ingredients are simple: a half pound of trimmed green beans, cut into bite-size pieces; the garlic, scallions, and chiles as aromatics; fish sauce and soy sauce; an egg; and plenty of torn fresh basil (preferably purple Thai basil, but Italian basil will work fine).
The key to great fried rice, with a nice smoky flavor and individual rice grains, is to use plenty of heat and cook in batches. I cook my rice a cup at a time in a smoking-hot wok with a little bit of vegetable oil, stir-frying until it starts to brown and a nice skin forms around each individual grain. As each batch finishes cooking, I transfer it to a bowl. Once all the rice is cooked, it's time for the green beans.
Heat up a little more oil in the bottom of the wok, then add trimmed green beans, letting them sit in the oil until they're really darkly charred and blistered, to give them a good smoky flavor and a tender-crisp texture.
Next up: aromatics. I add the scallions, chiles, and garlic and stir-fry them just long enough to develop their aroma—about 30 seconds is plenty of time—before adding the rice back to the wok and stirring it all together.
To make the dish a little heartier, I add a scrambled egg. The key is to clear out a space in the center, add some more oil, and make sure that it gets nice and hot before you add the egg. If the pan is hot enough, the egg should immediately start sputtering and spitting. That's your cue to put it out of its misery and break it up with the flat end of your spatula, really chopping at it to get it to break down. Once it's mostly cooked through, toss it all together with the rice. Our work is almost done here.
Just before serving, season the rice with a teaspoon each of soy sauce and fish sauce, along with a touch of salt (you won't need much, as the soy and fish sauces are very salty), a little sugar to balance out the heat, and a bit of ground white pepper. Now is also the time to add a big handful of basil leaves. I like the licorice-like flavor of Thai purple basil, but sweet Italian basil will also do just fine if you can't find Thai.
A quick final toss, and we're ready for dinner. Though this dish isn't strictly authentic Thai, it does have a lot of Thai flavors, so I like to serve it with the traditional fried rice accompaniments: lime wedges, sliced cucumbers, extra fish sauce, and extra chiles (for the brave).
Fried Rice With Blistered Green Beans and Basil Recipe
Green beans are fried in a wok until smoky and charred and then folded into this spicy, fragrant fried rice.
2 tablespoons (30ml) vegetable oil, divided
2 cups cooked white or jasmine rice (12 ounces; 350g) (see note)
1/2 pound (225g) green beans, trimmed and cut into 3/4-inch pieces
2 scallions, thinly sliced (1 ounce; 30g)
2 medium cloves garlic, minced (about 2 teaspoons; 5g)
1 to 3 Thai bird chiles (adjust according to taste), thinly sliced, plus more for serving
1 teaspoon (5ml) soy sauce
1 teaspoon (5ml) Asian fish sauce, plus more for serving
1 large egg
1 ounce (30g) roughly torn Thai or sweet Italian basil leaves
Freshly ground white pepper
Sugar, to taste
1 lime, cut into 4 wedges, for serving
1 small cucumber, thinly sliced, for serving
If using day-old rice, transfer to a medium bowl and break rice up with your hands into individual grains before proceeding. Heat 1/2 tablespoon vegetable oil in a large wok over high heat until smoking. Add half of rice and cook, stirring and tossing, until rice is pale brown, toasted, and has a lightly chewy texture, about 3 minutes. Transfer to a medium bowl. Repeat with another 1/2 tablespoon oil and remaining rice.
Add 1/2 tablespoon oil to now-empty wok and heat over high heat until smoking. Add green beans and cook, stirring and tossing occasionally, until deeply blistered and charred. Add scallions, garlic, and chiles and cook, stirring and tossing constantly, until aromatic, about 30 seconds.
Return rice to wok. Add soy sauce and fish sauce and toss to combine.
Push rice to the side of wok and add remaining 1/2 tablespoon oil. Break egg into oil and season with a little salt. Use a spatula to scramble egg, breaking it up into small bits. Toss egg and rice together.
Stir in basil leaves. Season to taste with salt, white pepper, and sugar, and serve immediately with lime, cucumber, and extra fish sauce and sliced chiles if desired.
For best results, use Chinese-style medium-grain rice, jasmine rice, or sushi rice. Rice should either be cooked fresh, spread on a tray, and allowed to cool for 5 minutes, or, alternatively, transferred to a loosely covered container and refrigerated for at least 12 hours and up to 3 days.
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|Nutrition Facts (per serving)|
|Servings: 2 to 3|
|Amount per serving|
|% Daily Value*|
|Total Fat 11g||15%|
|Saturated Fat 1g||7%|
|Total Carbohydrate 48g||17%|
|Dietary Fiber 5g||18%|
|Total Sugars 5g|
|Vitamin C 27mg||135%|
|*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.|