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

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.
Servings 4 - 6 as side dish


  • 2 tablespoons cooking oil, divided
  • 4 cups cooked day old rice, grains separated
  • 1/2 teaspoon grated ginger, grated on microplane grater
  • 1 teaspoon 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 teaspoon sesame oil
  • freshly ground black pepper


  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!