Cast Iron

Stir-Fried Rice with Leftovers

January  9, 2017
4 Ratings
Photo by Bobbi Lin
  • Serves 4
Author Notes

This stir-fried rice isn't based on authentic Asian recipes—although those that I have followed in the past all share the same spirit of improvisation. Rather, this is what I have come to rely on in my own home kitchen when I want a delicious dinner with very little effort.

At least once—and sometimes twice—a week, it's my tried-and-true, easy-peasy, deeply satisfying, super quick dinner. If you have leftover rice (brown or white) in the fridge, along with some roast chicken or a few slices of last night’s steak or fish dinner, this dish can be made swiftly and easily. Get everything prepped and laid out on the counter next to the stove and it’ll come together in as quickly as 15 minutes.

But even if you do have to cook the rice first (this is why I love my rice cooker) and/or sauté a raw protein, the meal is still a relatively painless. —Sara Jenkins

What You'll Need
  • 1/4 cup oil such as sesame or peanut, divided
  • 1 large shallot, peeled and sliced
  • 1 clove garlic, peeled and smashed
  • 2 cups leftover rice, ideally jasmine
  • 3/4 pound (more or less) leftover protein (like a seared or broiled piece of fish, about 3 to 4 ounces per person)
  • 1 small fresh chile (optional), minced
  • 1 teaspoon freshly grated ginger (add more to taste)
  • 2 cups greens, such as slivered napa cabbage, halved baby bok choy, or roughly cut spinach
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce (or fish sauce)
  • 1 teaspoon sherry vinegar (or Chinese black vinegar)
  • 1 lime, juiced
  • 1/2 bunch cilantro, picked into leaves
  • 1 scallion, sliced on the bias (optional)
  • 1/4 cup toasted peanuts (optional)
  • 2 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds
  1. In a wok or large cast-iron pan, heat the oil over high heat.
  2. Add the shallots and garlic and let color on one side. Flip over, then add the rice. Pour in 2 to 3 tablespoons of water to steam up and reheat the rice. Let the rice cook uncovered so that it crisps up on the bottom. When warmed and browned, remove from the pan and reserve.
  3. Add 2 more tablespoons vegetable oil to the pan and fry the chile, if using, and ginger. Then add the greens and whatever leftover protein you have and heat. Season with a little salt.
  4. When cooked, add the rice back in and toss everything around together. Transfer to a bowl and pour the soy sauce, vinegar, and lime juice and mix to combine. Add in cilantro and, if using, scallions and peanuts. Sprinkle sesame seeds over the top. Eat.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Danielle
  • ECMotherwell
  • lynx60489
  • Suz

6 Reviews

Danielle April 25, 2017
I love this recipe - it's a great base for almost any leftovers! So far I've made it with leftover doro wat and ethiopian collards; with curry chicken and Bengali-style zucchini; and with chicken korma, aloo gobi, and Bengali pan-fried eggplant. It's great for using up dishes I made too much of and just can't stand eating in their original form anymore - it transforms the flavors enough to make it an entirely new dish.

I usually double or triple the rice (keeping most of the other ingredients about the same and adjusting to taste) to go with about 12-15 oz of the meat curry (usually not very liquid, but not dry either) and 2 cups of the leftover vegetables, and that works out well. I cook the meat and vegetables until any excess liquid has cooked out. Each time I did this, I thought for sure it would fail, but it worked no matter what combo I threw at it, and now I keep this recipe for when a big container of food (or multiple little ones) is languishing in the fridge for too long. Definitely add some egg - it ties the flavors together nicely.

Now I have to try making the recipe with the actual ingredients called for! The rice usually tastes good on its own with the add-ins before I add the stir-fried leftovers, so I imagine that even plain leftovers as called for in the recipe would still taste great.
ECMotherwell February 21, 2017
Really, really great. I made it with grated, pickled carrots, sliced napa cabbage, red pepper, peas and ground pork. Delicious!
lynx60489 January 22, 2017
I am excited to try this stir fry later this week with leftover rice from the recipe for "Chile-Roasted Chicken" (link below)! The flavors in the rice are similar. I use a combination of short grain and sweet brown rice when I make it. Never fails me👌🏼
Suz January 18, 2017
I just made this, and it sure is a winner! Only real change I made was to double the veggies - I added carrot, celery, and red bell peppers. Great fast dinner!
Janet January 15, 2017
This is my go-to dinner when my husband is out of town. I use up any leftovers (sometimes even planning the leftovers in advance!) If no rice is available I quickly cook up some farro. For me, the egg is an essential ingredient as it binds everything together. Yum!
Renee B. January 15, 2017
Sounds delicious. My Korean college housemate made fried rice often. She also made a well in the pan of almost ready meal then broke an egg in the center, stirred it quickly to scramble then stirred to incorporate it into the rest of the mixture. She also used 'flavor crystals' (MSG) that she kept in a baggie. She stopped using MSG when she learned all of the negatives associated with it. Thanks for the memory jog and inspiration to try a new recipe.