Vegetable Fried Rice

Vegetable Fried Rice

I witnessed something yesterday that compelled me to post something that was NON-ANIMAL:

At stoplights, most people will chat on the phone, daydream or play air drum to the radio. Me? I sit there and rehearse different apologies to say to my kids’ daycare teachers, “I am SO sorry Mrs. so-and-so….my Mom warned if I ate too many spicy chilies during my pregnancy that my kids would turn out the same…sadly, I did not listen.”

For those of you who have small “energetic” children, I doubt I need to explain that having not one but TWO 3-foot tall firecrackers is like a cowboy trying to walk with 30-pound spurs on each leg….


But they MUST be good kids at school, otherwise they would have been expelled already, right? Every afternoon when I pick them up from daycare, I sneak in the classroom, hoping to catch either kid in a cherubic moment, sprinkling flower petals over little classmates and graciously refusing any offerings of sugar-packed snacks with, “No thank you. I’ve had my fill of sugar today. May I have a broccoli spear instead?”

A few weeks ago, I slowly opened the classroom door, slithered my body through the crack and tiptoed quietly towards the perfect circle of two-year olds listening to their teacher read them a book about different animals. The kids were sitting cross-legged, hands laying on their laps, all eyes on the book and intently listening to the wondrous, fantastical story of animals. If you’ve ever been in a room full of 2-year olds, you know that this is either a miracle or they spiked the kids’ Kool-Aid with a little somethin’.

Each page of the book featured a different animal. As she read the little poem about Steve the Silly Snake….my kid, Nathan popped up like a jack-in-the-box and proclaimed loudly:

I gasped as the other kids cocked their heads in Nathan’s direction. the teacher raised an eyebrow but continued on to the next page.

Freddie the Flippy Frog…

Billy the Baby Buffalo…

Douglas the Dancing Duck…

Oscar the Ornery Octopus…

Pete the Pouncing Puppy..

After imagining poor little Pete the Pouncing Puppy being eaten, the teacher must have gotten grossed out, looked at Nathan with a crinkled nose and promptly snapped the book shut.

HOLY SON OF A FOODIE! In one motion, I swooped up my kid, totally embarrassed and said in a high-pitched nervous tone, “Sweetheart! We don’t eat puppies! You silly!”

…and you know the rest of the apology…

I’ve always prided myself in introducing lots of different foods to my kids at an early age. Being Chinese, sometimes that means relishing in some of the more traditional Asian…shall we say, non-conventional delicacies like sharks fin soup, jellyfish, baby octopus, hairy crabs and frog legs.

But (sigh), not puppies….which brings me to posting this very lovely Vegetable Fried Rice.

Vegetable Fried Rice

Vegetable Fried Rice


Vegetable Fried Rice Recipe

Servings: 4-6 as side dish Prep Time: Cook Time:

You can substitute gluten-free tamari for the soy sauce. If you would like to use fish sauce instead of soy sauce (which I often do) - use 2 tsp of fish sauce to replace the soy.


2 tablespoons cooking oil, divided
4 cups cooked day old rice, grains separated
1/2 tsp grated ginger, grated on microplane grater
1 tsp finely minced garlic
1 cup or more minced vegetables (red bell pepper, chives, fresh shitake, extra firm tofu, frozen peas/carrots, cabbage, etc.)
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tsp sesame oil
freshly ground black pepper


1. Heat the cooking oil on medium-high heat. When hot, add tofu cubes and brown on all sides. Remove, set aside. If you aren't using tofu, then skip this step. Tofu is browned first, removed and added in later so that the delicate cubes do not get crushed in the frying process.

2. Add the remaining tablespoon of cooking oil to the pan and turn the heat to medium. When oil is hot but not smoking , add ginger and garlic, stir fry for 15 seconds until fragrant.

3. Turn heat to high and add vegetables - one kind at a time - in order of what takes longest to cook. Fry until the vegetables are almost cooked through.

4. Add the rice and the soy sauce, sesame oil, salt and pepper. Fry on high heat until the each rice grain is heated through. Add tofu cubes back in. Taste. Add a touch more soy if needed.

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Comments 69

  1. andreea

    i laughed so hard! i don’t have kids myself (yet) but i do love the innocence of kids. just brilliant (and the fried rice looks great too – looking forward to the recipe)

  2. LunaPierCook

    Just think about how they’ll be when they hit the teen years … they’ll have spiked hair like mom’s was, but it’ll be green and blue, and they’ll be eating out at White Castle. 😀

    Sooo … is this going to be like that conventional-oven recipe we’re still waiting for? [gd&r!] 😉

  3. Marvin

    Your kids are pretty impressive with their non-picky eating habits. I’ve seen parents who try to feed their kids different things, but they just tell them everything is chicken. It’s good your kids know what they are eating.

  4. Ashley

    would this recipe be easily converted to include puppy? 😉

    great story! can’t wait for the recipe – it looks great!

  5. LunaPierCook

    Thanks for this recipe, Jaden! I’d kinda always been looking for the right way to make this wonderful side dish.

  6. Melinda

    That’s so funny. He probably was thinking of hush puppies, hot dogs, corn dogs maybe even ‘pupovers’. Those are dogs and pups. (I am hoping you don’t eat snakes!)

  7. almost vegetarian

    My husband adores fried rice. Just adores it. So now I have a recipe … what fun to make it at home (and it looks nice and easy, too!). Your boys are a delight.


  8. tigerfish

    …”I witnessed something yesterday that compelled me to post something that was NON-ANIMAL…” I thought it was the “animal” in me that shocked you….yes…I KILLED them…Pinky The Pincer Prawns…in a cruel way 🙁
    Thanks for doing this vegetable fried rice, just in time for me to ease my guilt.

  9. argus lou

    I love your “smally diced”. Had “quite thinly sliced” for the onion in my Tomato, Onion & Salt Fish Argussimo and felt quite silly for typing it. Now I feel I’m not alone in the funny boat/farm.

    Also love your omnivorous son. Children who will eat almost anything adults do are so rare.

    My mum used to wash the chilly off curried chicken for me when I was six.

  10. argus lou

    P.S. Steamy Mommy, I would like to know who held the chopsticks with the yummy mouthful of fried rice for you while you clicked the camera. 😉

  11. SteamyKitchen

    Argus- I held camera with left hand (thumb on button), chopsticks with right hand. Carefully balancing the contents of the chopsticks, I just started snapping away hoping for a good shot. Got lucky, eh? What you don’t see: Left foot folding laundry, right leg washing windows and I’m chatting on the phone at the same time. I’m quite the multitasker.

  12. mi

    I absolutely adore your blog! I stumbled upon it a couple days ago and have been eagerly reading all your archived posts. I’ve found myself awed and inspired in each and every post! Your candor and wit makes reading them a complete delight. And not to mention all the great photography and awesome recipes.

    I SO SO SO appreciate the fact that you not only list the recipe, but explain the ingredients and show pictures of what you would buy. That’s so helpful! I’m Taiwanese-American and having these ingredients always prevalent in our home growing up… I still get completely lost at an Asian market without my mom. I tell my Vietnamese fiance…. uhm I think it’s this brand?? o_O (as I pick up the cell to call my mom and ask — mama, do we use the chili paste with the golden rooster on it or the laughing baby)

    Your recipes are also helpful as an actual guide as to how much of what to put in where and how. When I watch my parents cook … they answer my questions as to how much of that am I supposed to put in? with a “oh eeh dian dian” (a little) But how much is a little? It just comes to naturally to them that they measure nothing. So I love that you explain everything in detail (thinking back to your awesome xiao long bao post that would normally be a “let’s just wait til mom makes it” moment to a “I think I can do that!”)

    Thank you for sharing your expertise and your lovely stories about your family and experiences with us. Keep up the good work and if you ever write a book, I’ll be there to purchase one for every one of my friends and coworkers. 🙂

  13. Lynn

    Congratulations on raising such adventuresome eaters. I notice you didn’t let him get to Zephyr the zippy zebra.
    I’ve never tried fried rice with tofu. It looks delicious!

  14. Rasa Malaysia

    Yeah, I NEED a vacation BADLY! Italy sounds good…have never been, but to be practical (especially now that I suffer from permanent jetlag syndrome), I need to go to a place which is the same time zone!!!!

  15. Jennifer Jeffrey

    Duck: $8/ pound

    Frog legs: $11/pound.

    Octopus: $13/pound.

    Listening to your son announce to his daycare chums that he’s eaten frog and octopus and…. puppies?


  16. Kat

    these fried rice variations sound wonderful and what a big smile that story about your children left on my face 🙂

  17. Big Boys Oven

    From my kitchen experience, make sure you smell the left over rice first before using them, to check whether the rice is still good or may had gone bad. In restaraunts, they usually had a lot of left over rice and use them to make fried rice. Even they were a day leftover, if they are badly handle the rice can easy go bad.

  18. SteamyKitchen

    BBO- i love ckn fried rice…so do the kids.

    Andreaa- wait until you have kids and you too will be telling these stories!

    LPC- no way! no white castle for my kids!

    Marvin- oh yes. thank goodness my kids like frog. What would they be if they didn’t eat frog?

    Meena- I have NO idea why he thought he eats puppies!

    Ashley – not unless puppies were part of the vegan diet.

    Melinda- aaahh…you may be right

    Almost Veg- thank you!

    Tigerfish- ha! LOL

    Ape- actually, the kids are both REALLY friendly with dogs. mmmm…tasty meal…they are thinking

    WC- you corrupting auntie you!

    Mi- such sweet words! thank you!

    Lynn- or Marvin the Marvelous Moose

    RM- maybe we should just all vacation at your home

    JJ- LOL! I think we should hire an agent.

    Kat- 🙂

    Van- thank you!

    BBO- great tip – be nice to rice.

  19. Suji

    Is it considered stalking, if I tell you I stayed up till 3 in the morning last week reading every single post of yours and I read your “Confuscious says” part twice and woke DH up because I was laughing so hard.

    What is with kids and their stubbornness in making sure they embarrass the parents in front of anyone and everyone :). I think the teacher should just use your kids as example and tell the rest of the class to be not picky with food 🙂

  20. Ady

    Hi Jaden compliments for the first photo it’s wonderfull, i love fried ckn rice i could eat it every day.
    Good WE

  21. Mae

    That was funny. Your food shots are fantastic.

    And i learnt something new today : pressed tofu! Thank you! 🙂

  22. wokandspoon

    “Holy son of a foodie”??? heheh! LOL! I couldn’t stop laughing after I read that!
    Love the photo with the perfectly balanced grains of rice on the chopsticks! I’m guessing you used a tripod. Hehe – and didn’t have chopsticks in 1 hand, and camera in the other! 😉

  23. veron

    Ha ha… straight from the mouth of babes! They can get you into trouble. Yes , growing up in a chinese household, though I was considered a picky eater, I have eaten the above mentioned items…except the puppy of course. Deep-fried frog legs was a favorite growing up.

  24. SteamyKitchen

    Suji- ::me calling out:: “HONEY! we got another stalker!” just kidding…nice to meet you! Your kids are so cute. I’m sure they do ridiculous embarrassing things too!

    Ady- thank you!

    Mae- liposuction tofu!

    W&S- no tripod my dear, just pure, raw talent.

    Veron- if you only knew what my kid once told a policeman…. one day when I’m drunk I’ll blog about it

  25. Elaine

    Your son is so adorable. If i were the teacher, I’d indulge him and ask him how he cooked the puppy lol! Or would that actually scar him and the rest of the children in return and have you coming towards me with a your car keys in hand? o_O

    I love fried rice with mushrooms in it! 🙂

  26. brilynn

    I love your posts more and more everyday. I feel like you need to have a shirt made that says ‘we eat puppies for dinner’…

  27. Beaulotus

    I do the same with my kids, curries and chillies in the womb, in the breastmilk and the minute they could eat I would just mix whatever we were having for dinner and feed it to them. I also make a point to introduce them to stuff I myself do not eat (and refuse to eat). They eat almost everything (Chinese, Indian, French e.g. they love Foie Gras etc etc) and that’s a real pleasure. Your kids are really gorgeous by the way and sound really precocious and cool. Lastly, love your photos, I suck in photography.

  28. Krizia

    heehee, makes me a little afraid to have children of my own someday 🙂

    and you shot me with nostalgia with the spam fried rice! i’m suddenly 8, in the kitchen, with the smell of processed meat and the sound of my mom and grandma yelling at each other in Tagalog…

  29. SteamyKitchen

    LPC- I’ve never heard of tofuphobia

    Elaine- my son would prob describe in detail how he would cook that pup!

    Brilynn- do you think there would be a market for obscene food shirts?

    Beaulotus- foie gras?! children have expensive tastes!

    WMW- I’m so happy that i could provide you with entertainment


    Krizia- be afraid…be very very afraid! just joking!

  30. Lydia

    Do you remember a TV show called “Kids Say the Darndest Things”? It was probably before your time, but we used to howl with laughter!

  31. LunaPierCook

    Tofuphobia? It’s part of that series of conditions disallowing anything to be ingested that’s just plain wrong.

  32. Coffee

    Hahahaha….. I am laughing like mad over here and my hubby is wondering whats wrong! YOur son is sooooo cute!!

    And who better than an asian to show fried rice. 🙂 Very neat indeed. 🙂

  33. Carol

    Hey Jaden, this is such a funny and adorable post! Our children are truly our greatest gifts. Fried Rice is one of the simplest of chinese foods but it’s definitely my favourite! when I go away for a day or two and Chinese food is unavailable, it always leaves me craving ( this word is an understatement!) for fried Rice. Your Spam fried Rice looks Perfect, just the way I like it. How did your interview and photo session go? What did you serve in the end? Can’t wait to hear all about it!

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  35. Amy

    Hehehe your kids sound adorable! Beautiful shot also, I always have a hard time balancing the food on chopsticks and taking a pic.

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  38. Paula

    Ok this is the weekend I make your veggie fried rice. I can resist no longer. I don’t suppose this is listed on Weight Watchers, right?

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