For the exception of baking, I rarely cook from recipes. In culinary school, we would tediously copy the day’s curriculum on index cards. We quickly learned that the assignment was more about the act of remembering the recipes than for us to follow them word-for-word. I’m not discrediting recipes – I subscribe to just about every food magazine and own my fair share of cookbooks. They’re excellent inspiration and a great tool for getting more comfortable with technique. But learning how to cook, really cook, requires some gumption. It definitely includes mistakes. And improvisation, creativity and, well, common sense.
I always say that anyone who eats can be a good cook. Think about it: you already know what foods and flavors you like together. Once you learn a technique, like this simple fried rice, you can vary it depending on what you have in the fridge or what looks good at the market. Not a fan of coconut oil? Grapeseed oil is a neutral substitute. Ran out of spinach? Sub in leftover broccoli or frozen veggies. The rest is just a dip in the pantry or fridge: rice, oil, vinegar, eggs, hot sauce. I challenge you to read this recipe and be bold with your variations. Let me know how it goes.
Coconut-Spinach Fried Rice
1 T. coconut oil, plus more if necessary
2 scallions, finely sliced, white and green parts divided
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tsp. finely minced fresh ginger
1 cup cooked brown rice (I used leftover brown basmati)
2 T. low-sodium tamari
2 cups baby spinach, roughly chopped
1 cup kale, stemmed and thinly sliced (optional)
1 egg, lightly beaten
Lime juice or rice vinegar
Chile-garlic sauce or Sriracha
- Heat coconut oil over medium heat in a large skillet. Add white parts of scallion, ginger and garlic. Cook for a few minutes, stirring frequently. Adjust heat if necessary to prevent burning.
- Add the brown rice and cook for a few minutes to heat through. Add a bit more coconut oil if it starts to stick to the pan. Add tamari, spinach and/or kale and cook for a few more minutes until wilted. Increase heat and add the egg, stirring constantly, until egg is scrambled in the rice mixture. Add a bit more coconut oil if it sticks.
- Finish with a squeeze of lime juice or rice vinegar, hot sauce and a tiny drizzle of sesame oil. Sprinkle with green scallions before serving.