Japanese Fusion Fried Rice

Here’s an all-in-one weeknight dinner that has pizzaz and charm. I love it when a dish comes along that offers a complete nutritional package in one recipe. This fried rice showcases some delicious seasonal vegetables, allowing them to keep their crunch and flavor as they meld into one beautiful dish. If you like the salty umami of a good soy sauce and the tang of rice vinegar, then this is the one for you.

I don’t pretend that this dish is authentic, but it is Japanese inspired. The flavors were exotic enough to keep our palates interested. This one will be entering the regular rotation at our table.  If you made pickled radishes with me, then you are in luck.  They are delicious here!

This recipe calls for Japanese Rice Seasoning. You can make this dish without it, but if you see it at the store, I would recommend picking it up. I found it at Whole Foods with the other Japanese specialty items.  The Rice Seasoning is filled with delicious things like sesame seeds and seaweed and dried carrots and other little crunchy delicious things. It’s like sprinkles for your rice. Check the ingredients before you buy though; some varieties contain bonito, which is a fish product.

Fusion Fried Rice
Adapted from VeganYumYum

Yield: 6 servings

1 1/2 cups short-grained white rice, such as sushi rice
1 3/4 cups + 2 tbsps water

Cooking spray
1 lb extra-firm tofu, chopped into small cubes
1 1/2 tbsp tamari or soy sauce
1 tbsp rice vinegar
1/2 tsp Chinese 5 Spice powder (optional)

1 head broccoli, chopped into small florets
3 carrots, coarsely chopped
1/3 bunch scallions, finely chopped
1 tsp minced ginger
1/3 cup pickled radishes, chopped
3-4 tbsps tamari or soy sauce (to taste)
2 1/2 tbsps rice vinegar
Japanese rice seasoning (or substitute sesame seeds and/or finely chopped nori)

Directions:
1. Add water and rice to a small pot. Bring to a boil; reduce to a low simmer.
2. Cook covered for 20 minutes; rice is ready when water is fully absorbed and rice is fluffy through and through.

While the rice is cooking:
3. Heat a large non-stick or well-seasoned cast iron skillet over medium heat.
4. When the skillet is hot, grease the pan well with cooking spray and add the tofu. Press gently on the tofu with a spatula as it cooks with, releasing some of the excess water from the tofu.
5. Do NOT turn the tofu or stir it too frequently, as this will prevent proper browning. Wait until the tofu looks golden and crispy on one side, before turning it fully. Spray the top of the tofu before turning it, if you have any concerns about sticking. Cook until tofu is golden on most sides.
6. As the tofu cooks, stir together 1 1/2 tbsp soy sauce, 1 tbsp rice vinegar, and 1/2 tsp 5-spice powder.
7. Once the tofu is almost done cooking (about 10-15 minutes total), splash the soy sauce mixture over it, stir to combine, and continue to fry until the liquid is fully absorbed and evaporated.  If the rice is not yet finished cooking, set aside the tofu.

When the rice and tofu are fully cooked, proceed as follows:
8. Heat the skillet containing the tofu back up to medium heat.  Add the broccoli and carrots, and cook for a few minutes, until the broccoli turns a deeper shade of green but retains its crispness.
9. Reduce heat on the burner to Medium-Low.  Add the scallions and ginger to the skillet, and stir to combine.
11. Pour 3 tbsp of soy sauce and 2 tbsp of rice vinegar over the rice.  Sprinkle generously with Japanese rice seasoning.  Taste, and adjust seasoning as necessary.
11. Remove from heat, garnish with additional scallions, and enjoy!

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