Variations on Gluten-Free Fried Rice

filipino-style garlic fried rice

In my city, the only restaurant that offers gluten-free fried rice is P.F. Chang’s, and I order it every time I eat there. Unfortunately, I cannot always count on this when the craving hits, and, you know, making fried rice is the work of minutes if you have cold, leftover rice in your fridge.

And that is the key: cold, leftover rice, or “overnight rice”, a description I read that charms me to this day. Warm rice is too wet to fry up properly. Leftover rice, after a night or so in the refrigerator, is drier. It hits the wok with a sizzle and fries perfectly.

For weeknight dinners, I love a traditional (gluten free) soy sauce-based fried rice with simple meats and veggies. I definitely cheat and use frozen vegetables when I’m in a hurry. If the veggies gods have been bountiful, I mix it up when I have the time.

Of course, there are many variations on Chinese-style fried rice — I’ve noted a few below. There are also great fried rice styles from other countries. My current favorite is a very light, garlicky version from the Philippines. I’ve noted some other favorites below as well.

  • Chicken Fried Rice: This is fast and easy. I usually make it with a scrambled egg incorporated into the rice, but you can fry or poach an egg instead.
  • Curry Fried Rice: There are many recipes for curried fried rice; too many of them add soy sauce, which, in my opinion, can overpower the curry flavor. This recipe from Mark Bittman’s website doesn’t mask the curry flavor, and has the flavor of India. If you’re looking for something more along the lines of a Thai curried fried rice, this recipe with curry paste and shrimp, plus a hint of coconut milk. I’d cut the coconut milk back to two tablespoons at the most because the sauce is already pretty wet; too much liquid results in mushy rice!
  • Filipino-Style Garlic Fried Rice: This rice dish is traditionally eaten for breakfast in the Philippines. I eat it whenever I can get my hands on it. Mincing the garlic takes some time, so I often cheat and use a microplane.
  • Kimchi Fried Rice: I love rice dishes from Korea because, when done well, they are as beautiful as they are delicious. And kimchi is one of my favorite fermented treats. I work it into an amazing number of meals! This recipe is a great starting point. If you haven’t located gluten-free gochujang, my recipe is right here. It’s a great condiment to keep on hand!
  • Myanmar (Burmese) Fried Rice with Peas: I had this fried rice at a restaurant in San Francisco, and loved it! Their recipe was gluten free, and I loved the peas and crispy shallots. And, as you know, I’m a sucker for tumeric. This recipe satisfied the craving for me.
  • Nasi Goreng: I first encountered this Indonesian fried rice at a small Indonesian restaurant/grocery store in Culver City. Their version is not gluten free, alas, but I can replicate the flavors at home fairly easily. I do admit I skimp on the vegetable garnishes when I do it myself. This recipe from Saveur is fairly simple and full of flavor . To make a substitute for the kekap manis, a sweetened soy sauce, cook down soy sauce with brown sugar until it thickens (see recipe here).
  • Thai Fried Rice: Many restaurants incorporate (non-gluten free) oyster sauce into their recipes, so this is another dish I tend to make myself rather than order out. Which is a shame because (confession!) I tend to cut corners, so mine is never *quite* as good. Here’s a basic recipe that omits oyster sauce; you can customize it to suit your taste.

Hopefully these suggestions give you ideas for amazing fried rice dishes. What is your favorite fried rice recipe? Please share.

Tip of the Week

If you’re a brown rice person, substitute that for steamed white rice in any recipe. Remember that brown rice adds a nuttier flavor to a recipe, so you may need to adjust your seasonings a bit.

Menu of the Week

Obviously, I take my fried rice seriously! I also take my garlic seriously. When I’m in the mood for something pungent, yet homey, I make this Filipino-style garlic fried rice. If I make it with an egg and incorporate some sausage, I count that as a full meal.

That being said, this rice is amazing with a side of chicken or pork meatballs served over sauteed greens (see ma? I’m trying to eat my veggies!). I like a simple meatball with a variation of this sweet and sour sauce on the side.

Chicken Meatballs with Sweet and Sour Sauce
Sauteed Greens (Spinach or Chard)
Garlic Fried Rice with Vinegar Sauce

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