Thursday, January 12, 2012

Garlic Fried Rice: It's What's for Breakfast

Filipino Garlic Fried Rice with Fried Egg and Sriracha

The inspiration for this post began about a month ago.  It was a coworker's birthday, and he wanted to celebrate downtown.  Usually, I prefer things to be more "domestic" and intimate when it comes to gatherings, but every once and while, going out on the town isn't so bad. And when it's alongisde people whose company I truly enjoy, then it doesn't really matter if downtown is fun or not: good friends always make it better.

After the requisite bar crawl, my first ever pedicab ride, and some dance and debauchery at my coworker's favorite club, my friends had the munchies, so we headed towards their favorite food trailer a few blocks away.  I have long lamented the lack of late-night food available to the food-sensitive, so while I knew I probably wouldn't be able to eat with my friends, I figured I would at least get a bottle of water or something.  Surveying the cluster of trailers, with cuisines ranging from German to Italian to Korean, a new trailer tucked away in the corner suddenly caught my eye.  It was a food trailer selling Filipino food. [insert sound of jaw dropping]

I made a beeline towards them, and even after getting that blank stare/nervous giggle combo in response to my gluten query, I was transfixed by their menu.  As it turns out, so was my friend, as she ordered the sweet garlic fried rice with excitement.  When it was passed over to her in a styrofoam bowl with an egg on top and a generous heaping of scallions, I was overtaken by nostalgia.  The pungent aroma of garlic reminded me of sinangag (sin-nahng-ahg), a Filipino breakfast staple of fried garlic and rice.  Growing up, my mother and grandmother would make it frequently using leftover rice, which was never in short supply at our house.  And seeing how much my friend was enjoying it, I made a mental note that the next time I had a good amount of leftover rice, I would make it myself.

Sweet Garlic Fried Rice (seconds before being devoured).

Well, lucky for me and lucky for you, that day finally came.  So here's a super simple recipe for my take on Filipino garlic fried rice - an awesome breakfast or side dish that will have any garlic-lover hooked from the first bite.  

Garlic Fried Rice
(GF, DF, V, rSF, SF)

6 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
3/4 c diced yellow or sweet onion
2 tablespoons canola or olive oil
4 c cooked leftover rice
salt and pepper to taste
chopped scallions to garnish

1.  Heat oil over medium heat in a large pan or wok.  Add garlic and lightly fry until just golden to infuse the oil with the garlic flavor.  This should take about 2 minutes.  You want to avoid burning the garlic as this will turn it bitter, so keep the heat moderate and the garlic moving.
2.  Remove garlic from oil and set aside.
3.  Add onion and saute for 1-2 minutes or until cooked through and translucent.
4.  Add leftover rice, breaking up any large clumps and stirring well in order to coat each grain with the garlic-infused oil.  (If you need to add additional oil, clear a space in the middle of the pan and allow oil to heat through before combining with rice.)
5.  Add cooked garlic to rice.  Season with salt and pepper to taste and cook for 3-4 minutes.
6.  Serve hot, garnished with scallions.
7.  Makes 4-6 servings.

6 cloves of garlic is just a suggestion... ;)

Leftover short grain red rice.  I love its malty flavor.

Fried until just golden.

Basic singangag: your jumping off point.

This recipe is a wonderful starting point for endless variations.  If you wish to keep it vegan, you can add any number of additional vegetables (kale, carrots, cabbage, peas, etc.) or crispy tofu or tempeh.  Or if you wish to go down the omnivorous route, you can definitely add an egg on top or mix in bacon, ham, dried shrimp, or even spam (if you want to get really traditional).  The sky is truly the limit in terms of where you take this simple dish, so let yourself be creative and adventurous.  After all, we're talking about the most important meal of the day, so use ingredients that sound good to you and make your mouth water and your stomach rumble.

Now that's a beautiful start to any day...

Especially with my family's recent visit to Austin, pride in my Filipino heritage is definitely peaked. Seeing them and being able to enjoy so many awesome meals with them reminded me of the traditions that first taught me to love the act of both eating and sharing good food. So look forward to more recipes, both sweet and savory, inspired by my roots and celebrating the dishes I was raised on.

Comfort food beyond words. :)


  1. Oh wow, this looks amazing. I love garlic, so I will definitely try it sometime.

    I haven't had tempeh since I lived in Indonesia, and I do miss it. Yummy stuff!

  2. Thanks, Heather! I love how simple but how hugely delicious this dish is. Hope you get to have tempeh again soon!

  3. That looks so simple and great! I'm going to buy the ingredients tomorrow! Thanks Jonathan!

  4. You're so welcome, Jaycee! Can't wait to hear how it turns out!

  5. I need to make this... thank you for sharing your recipe!

    1. My pleasure, Peter! So simple & delicious - hard to resist. :)


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