Flavour-Packed Basil Fried Rice

Ah, fried rice. The best thing to come out of miscellaneous leftovers and dry old rice. We’re all guilty of cooking too much rice every now and then, but I’m more guilty of cooking too much and throwing it out. The problem with fried rice for me was that I find a lot of it is usually so bland and boring. So I decided I wanted to change that and see what I could do to make it taste better and have less food waste!

Eventually, this recipe became my go-to whenever I had leftover rice, chicken, beef, tofu, and certain veggies that were starting to go bad. I found that the best part of this recipe is that you can always alternate proteins & the veggies and it still holds the strong flavours anyone can really enjoy.

When it comes to fried rice, it’s usually best to use 1 or 2 day old rice that’s been kept in the fridge. That way its a bit more dry and can hold in more flavour without getting too mushy.

Here’s the basics of the recipe, you can always add in more vegetables you have left over.


Flavour-Packed Basil Fried Rice

INGREDIENTS for 2 servings:

  • 2 cups of cooked day-old rice (1 cup of uncooked rice)($0.38)
  • 4 Tbs canola oil ($0.20)
  • 1 large egg ($0.24)
  • 3/4 cup of chopped cooked chicken (or your choice of protein)($1.10)
  • 1 medium sized carrot ($0.16)
  • 2 scallions ($0.18)
  • 1/2 zucchini ($0.395)
  • 1/3 cup of corn ($0.06)
  • 1 bunch of chopped fresh basil ($0.398)
  • 1 Tbs Rice Vinegar ($0.12)
  • 1 Tbs Dark Soy Sauce ($0.03)
  • 2 Tsp Oyster Sauce ($0.06)
  • 1 Thai chili (optional)

Total cost for 2 services: $3.32*

Single serving for $1.66

Serves 2, takes 20 Minutes

Compared to the $10-$12 at restaurants!

*Depending the cost of the ingredients in your area, the cost may be more or less. I live in a fairly inflated part of town, so chances are your cost will be less.

Need the proof? Head down to the bottom of this page!


DIRECTIONS

Basil-Fried-Rice-Ingredients
Gather & prepare your veggies and chop it all into small cubes (corn not pictured). I had a left over chicken breast from a rotisserie chicken, so I just chopped that into cubes and it worked perfectly! Next, whisk the egg in separate bowl.

Place a wok on the stove at medium-high heat. Once your pan heats, add in 1 Tbs of the oil. As soon as the oil gets hot, add in the egg and scramble.

Basil-Fried-Rice-Eggs

As soon as it scrambles, remove the egg to a separate dish and pour 2 Tbs of the canola oil.

Basil-Fried-Rice-Vegetables

Next, add in your veggies. I used carrots, zucchini, and some corn. You can definitely add in whatever vegetable you have left over such as broccoli, bok choy, peppers, etc. as long as the flavour doesn’t overwhelm the dish.

Basil-Fried-rice-mix

Stir for a bit and then add back in your eggs, and then add in your protein & the rice vinegar.

Mix for about 30 seconds to wait for the vinegar to cook off, then add in the rice!

Basil-fried-rice-rice

Break apart the rice and mix it in as much as possible and add in your last tablespoon of canola oil.

Basil-Fried-Rice-mixed

Once the rice, meat, and vegetables are well mixed, add in the basil, green onions, soy sauce, and oyster sauce (and the Thai chili if you want it to be spicy!).

Basil-fried-rice-final

The oyster sauce can be substituted with vegetable Hoisin if you want, but I really recommend the oyster sauce as it adds it’s unique flavour (and no it does not taste like fish if you’re worried!)

Now really start stirring and really fry the rice. Once everything is mixed well and the basil becomes aromatic, take the rice off the heat and serve.

All done within 20 minutes!

Basil-fried-rice-5basil-fried-rice-3Basil-fried-rice-2

Basil-fried-rice-1

I really hope you enjoy it, and feedback (postive or constructive) is always appreciated! 🙂


INGREDIENT COSTS

I’m referring to a Loblaws (a generic grocery chain in Canada) weekly flyer and their website, and a local Chinese grocery store

6.8kg of Premium Calrose Rice ($14.99) – $0.22/100g
946 ml No Name Brand Canola Oil ($4.19) – $0.44/100ml
12 Large Eggs ($2.97)
Pack of 4 chicken breasts ($9.33)
1 Zucchini ($0.79)
1 bunch of green onions ($0.79)
Pack of Basil ($1.99)
500 ml Rootster Superior Dark Soy Sauce ($1.99) – $0.40/100ml
750g of Frozen Corn Kernels ($0.99) – $0.132/100g
3 Lbs Carrots – $2.00

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Cheater’s Dan Dan Noodles

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These noodles are essentially what I call Chinese Bolognese or Chinese Ragu, because that’s basically what it is. When I was in kindergarten in China, this was a staple for the lunches they gave the kids, and it was definitely in my top 5 favourite lunches served. For a long time I had completely forgotten what the dish was called and wanted to recreate it so badly, and thankfully with the new rise of Asian fusion cuisine, I was finally able find recipes for it!

Dan Dan noodles seem to be all the hype at the new hip Asian Fusion restaurants in metropolitan areas. I’ve definitely had my fair share of good noodles and noodles that definitely do not taste like what Dan Dan Mian should taste like. To me, the main 3 flavours Dan Dan MUST have is chili bean paste, strong Sichuan peppercorn, and sesame paste. If the noodles are lacking these three flavours, its not real Dan Dan. And lets face it, a lot of those hip restaurants do lack these flavours.

If you’re not sure what Chili Bean Paste is, here’s the brand that I use constantly. I also found that this was the brand whose flavour I liked the most as well:

The reality of this dish is the fact that like the majority of Chinese noodle dishes, it requires a shit ton of various ingredients. Most of which are almost impossible to find at your local Chinese grocers if you can’t read Mandarin (I don’t, there was a lot of trial and error with this). This recipe is basically a cheaters Dan Dan recipe because it doesn’t incorporate all of the ingredients you should have, but keeps the main ingredients so you have a pretty close representation of what it’s supposed to taste like, without taking 6 hours to cook!

Before I start, I want to make a couple notes about this so there isn’t any ruckus about Dan Dan enthusiasts calling me out for in-authenticity of the recipe.

  • Dan Dan Mian is usually cooked with minced pork and this effects the fat content of the dish. However, the area I grew up in was a Muslim majority area of China so the minced pork was replaced with minced beef – so this is the protein I will be using for the recipe, you are totally allowed to use pork!
  • There are different types of Sichuan peppercorn (Red, Green, dry, fresh, etc). I usually just use dried red because its always available to me (you can even find it at bulk stores like Bulk Barn in Canada), however real Dan Dan Mian uses green peppercorns because they have a more “numbing” flavour. I definitely recommend grinding the peppercorn and doing this as it does add a kick-ass flavour, I just didn’t have any on hand so red worked just fine! (Note that all of my spices are ground!)
  • As I mentioned, sesame paste is a very important part of the dish (almost 1/3rd of it if you order the dish in China), however, if you find it difficult to find any in your area, replacing it with all natural peanut butter (the kind you get at Whole Foods, Trader Joes, or Farm Boy) works fine too with a couple drops of sesame oil. I’ll be doing this because I don’t have sesame paste on hand!
  • Garnishing for the dish really brings all the flavours together, I like to add in some fresh green onions, cilantro, and julienned cucumber for added freshness – you totally should too!
  • The noodles for the dish is just as important as the sauce, I really recommend going to Chinatown and picking up some fresh wheat noodles or ramen noodles. If that’s not possible, try to find some sort of thinner Asian dried noodles (not Udon!).
  • wheat-noodles-thin
  • The 3 main ingredients I mentioned are most likely not going to be at your local grocery store. Take a trip to Chinatown and explore some new flavours!

Okay! Lets get to it.


Cheater’s Dan Dan Noodles

INGREDIENTS & COSTS:

  • 150 g of ground beef – you can use any ground protein really, the measurement is about 2 burger patties – ($1.32)
  • 2 tablespoons Canola Oil ($0.10)
  • 2/3 medium onion($0.13)
  • 2 cloves Garlic(0.04)
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons ginger($0.015)
  • 1 Tsp Cumin ($0.04)
  • 2 Tsp ground Sichuan peppercorn(ideally green but red works too) ($0.25)
  • 1 Tbs Pepper Flakes (optional)
  • 1 Tsp Chinese 5 Spice ($0.10)
  • 2 Star Anise ($0.01)
  • 1/4 cup of Chili Bean Paste($0.45)
  • 3 Tbs Sesame Paste (or All Natural Peanut Butter with 1 Tbs Sesame oil) (0.25)
  • 1/2 Cup warm chicken broth ($0.10)
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 Tbs Dark Soy Sauce
  • 1 Package of fresh wheat noodles($1.19)
  • Hot Chili Oil to garnish
  • Scallions to garnish ($0.10)
  • Takes 30 minutes, serves 2.

    Total Cost = $4.81!* AKA $2.40 each!

    Compared to the $10-13 at restaurants!

    *Depending the cost of the ingredients in your area, the cost may be more or less. I live in a fairly inflated part of town, so chances are your cost will be less.

    Need the proof? Head down to the bottom of this page!


    DIRECTION

    Prepare your ingredients. Basically you have to mince everything and julienne the cucumber and slice the green onions.

    Ingredients

    (Don’t worry, the ground beef didn’t touch any other ingredients!)

    Bring a pot or dutch oven to medium heat and cook your protein. Once it’s browned after a couple minutes, take out the meat to place in a separate dish and drain the fat.

    dan-dan-noodles-beef

    Next add in the oil, wait for it to heat and add in the chopped onions, ginger, and garlic.

    dan-dan-noodles-onions

    Stir for about a minute and then add in the Sichuan peppercorn and star anise. After a couple seconds the peppercorn aroma should start making your nose feel funny and a little numb, this is how you know the flavour is real getting captured in the oil.

    dan-dan-noodles-spices

    Stir for a bit, then add in your cumin, five spice, and optional pepper flakes. After a couple minutes of stirring, your onions should start to get golden and the spices should be blending together to make a fairly unique aroma. Stir for another 2 minutes and add back the cooked ground beef.

    dan-dan-noodles-onion-beef-blend

    Once the beef is incorporated into the pot, add in the chili bean paste. Stir for about 2 minutes and then add in the warm chicken broth. It should bubble quite a bit at this point. Now add in the peanut butter or sesame paste and the cup of water, stir, and let it boil and thicken for a few minutes.

    dan-dan-boil

    Once it thickens, give it a quick taste test. Add in more ingredients or chill oil to your liking if you like your dish to be more spicy (I definitely do!). At this point the sauce is basically ready. Close the lid and turn off the stove while you prepare your noodles & garnishes.

    The final step is the boil your noodles and prepare your dish.

    dan-dan-noodles-noodles

    Once the noodles are ready, quickly rinse them in cold water so cooking process stops.

    dan-dan-noodles-1

    Pour the sauce over the noodles, and chop up some scallions, chili oil, and some cucumber to garnish.

    dan-dan-noodles-garnisheddan-dan-noodles-chili-oil

    Now you can enjoy some spicy, numbing, savoury, noodles! That wasn’t too hard was it?

    dan-dan-noodles-2

    You can always save the sauce if you feel like Dan Dan another day! I know I always make more on purpose for the sake of leftovers.

    dan-dan-noodles-3dan-dan-mian-3

    I’m honestly getting hungry just looking at these pictures… Good thing I have leftovers.

    dan-dan-mian-

    INGREDIENT COSTS

    I’m referring to a Loblaws (a generic grocery chain in Canada) weekly flyer, Farmboy weekly flyer, their websites, and a local Chinese grocery store.