The first time I made rice by myself I was 12 years old, and I wanted to be sure there would be enough rice to feed our super-sized family—which at that point there were 10 kids and counting.
Barely glancing at the directions, I poured five cups of uncooked rice into a pot, added water to cover, and turned on the heat, figuring that half a cup of uncooked rice per person would be perfect.
For one, the water and rice bubbled up over the top of the pot and onto the burners. Two, I had to transfer massive amounts of water and rice into other pots—and ended up with way more rice than I anticipated.
Now, when I make rice, I intentionally cook too much to have enough to make fried rice with the leftovers.
This simple, colorful, and savory dish is incredibly flexible. You can serve it as a side (with fish, chicken, steak, pork chops) or with shrimp, chicken, or pork mixed in for an all-in-one meal.
Kids will love helping you with this quick and easy dish, but if you want to let your child make the meal, remind her to read (and follow!) the package directions.
What Kids Learn:
- Rice is a staple for much of the world’s population.
- In countries such as Thailand, China, and Japan, the word rice means “food.”
- Day-old cooked rice that’s been refrigerated or frozen gives fried rice its awesome texture.
What You’ll Need
- 2 cloves garlic
- 3 scallions
- 1 small piece (about 1-inch square) fresh ginger
- 1 (10-ounce) box frozen peas and carrots
- 2 eggs
- 3 tablespoons peanut oil
- 4 cups leftover cooked rice
- 3 tablespoons soy sauce, or to taste
- Salt and pepper, as needed
What to Do
- Show your apprentice chef how to peel the garlic cloves. Chop the garlic yourself or if your child has excellent knife skills, let her do it.
- Wash and trim the scallions. Thinly slice the scallions or show your child how to do this. Peel the ginger with a vegetable peeler. Chop it or show your kitchen assistant what to do.Teachable Moment: Rice Science (and Other Stuff You Don’t Know)
- Rice is a swamp grass that is widely used as a food source, notably in Asia.
- The rice we eat is actually the seed part of the rice plant. Botanically speaking, rice is a type of grain.
- Rice plants grow flowers! The flowers are very small, but the main body of the plant can grow between three and six feet tall.
- Because they are seeds, grains of rice grow strawlike protective coverings called hulls. In order to see the grain, the hull must be removed.
- Grains of rice also come in different shapes! Shorter grains of rice tend to be stickier and are easier to use for making sushi or puddings. There are also medium and long rice grains too
- Place the frozen vegetables into a small glass casserole dish. Add a few tablespoons of water, cover, and microwave until just cooked, about 4 minutes. Drain and set aside.
- Invite your young chef to crack the eggs into a small bowl and lightly beat them with a fork. Set the bowl aside. Place a wok or a very large saucepan on the stove. Turn heat to medium-high. Add the oil to the skillet. Wait a minute or so. Add the garlic, scallion, and ginger, and stir-fry for 1 minute.Teachable Moment: 3 Wow-Your-Friends Rice Facts!
- Of all the grains in the world, rice is the most widely eaten. It’s a staple (or essential food) for much of the world’s population.
- So it shouldn’t be too surprising that rice comes in third for most-grown food on Earth. The only other two that beat it are sugarcane and corn.
- Rice is such a staple that some places such as Thailand, China, and Japan use the word rice to mean “food.” In China, the words are interchangeable. In Japan, the word rice can specifically mean “meal.” And in Thailand, a family dinner is called “eating rice.”
- Add the rice to the mixture. Lower the heat slightly. Stir-fry, breaking up any clumps with a spatula, and continue to cook for 3 minutes or until the rice is very hot. Pour in the egg and stir-fry for 3 minutes or until cooked thoroughly. Add the vegetables and stir-fry until hot. Add the soy sauce. Stir-fry for a minute or so. Taste and add salt and pepper as needed.