Sick of all your freezer meals being casseroles and pasta sauces? Here’s something different for you! Budget friendly. Freezer friendly. A flavour explosion in a bowl. This dish has it all!
“Take 10 minutes out of your weekend to prepare ahead so you can get this dinner on the table in a snap during the week.”
You don’t ordinarily think of fresh stir fries as make ahead, freezer friendly meals. But that’s exactly what this is. To be honest, I’ve never seen a recipe like this anywhere before. Marinating the meat and popping it into the freezer is nothing new. The unique step is cooking the rice ahead and freezing it.
I think most people assume you can’t freeze rice. Or they simply don’t think of it as a “done thing”. But it is perfectly ok to freeze cooked rice. It’s actually the “norm” in Asian countries. All my relatives in Japan do it. In fact, freezing rice makes it perfect for using for fried rice because it dries it out. Have you noticed that fried rice is not sticky like sushi rice? That’s because it is made using leftover rice from the day before, refrigerated overnight. By freezing rice, you get the same result.
“It’s a meal that kids love but can easily be given a “grown up” touch with a dash of chilli sauce.”
I’m going to be straight with you – this is not an authentic Chinese stir fry. I am sure I will offend purists! Because the “secret ingredient” I use to make this “sticky” is tomato sauce (ketchup). Yes, it’s true. It is my secret ingredient in my Asian style marinades that I want to be glazed, like my Sticky Chinese Chicken Wings. It’s perfect because it’s thick and sticks to the meat. Plus it has more than just a tomato flavour but it is neutral enough to use as a base so you don’t taste the tomato flavour after you add other ingredients. And it has sugar in it which helps with the caramelisation.
I have written this recipe up as a make ahead, freezer friendly recipe which then takes just over 10 minutes to cook. You can also make it from scratch on the day, but you will need at least 20 minutes marinating time as well as cooking the rice. The whole reason I created this recipe was so I could have a really punchy flavoured Asian stir fry that tastes fresh but is mostly made ahead.
Oh, a word of warning. Turn your fan on or open your windows. Because this is a quick cook stir fry and the marinade is sticky, it will smoke up your kitchen! Trust me, it’s worth it. The flavour you get from the caramelised marinade is gold. 🙂
- 250 g / 8 oz chicken thigh fillets , sliced into 1cm/1/3" slices
- 2 tbsp soy sauce
- 2 tbsp tomato sauce
- 1 tbsp rice vinegar
- 1 1/2 tbsp honey (or substitute with 1 tbsp brown sugar)
- 1/2 tsp fresh ginger , minced or finely chopped
- 1 clove garlic , minced
- 1 tbsp sriracha (or other hot sauce) (optional)
- 1 cup uncooked long grain rice (see notes)
- 1 1/2 cups water
- 1 1/2 cups cooked rice (see notes)
- 1/2 brown or white onion , diced
- 1 garlic clove , peeled and smashed (see notes)
- 1 carrot , diced
- 1/2 cup frozen peas , thawed
- 1/2 cup baby corn , cut into 1cm/1/3" slices (or canned or frozen corn) (see notes)
- 3 bok choys
- 1 1/2 tbsp peanut oil , separated
- 1 tbsp Chinese cooking wine (shao hsing wine) or dry sherry
- 1 tbsp soy sauce
- 1 tsp chicken stock powder or crumbled bouillon cube , or 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 shallot/scallion , finely sliced
- 1 tsp sesame seeds (optional)
Combine Chicken and Marinade ingredients in a bowl and mix to coat. Either set aside for 20 minutes or put it in a ziplock bag and place in the freezer until required.
Place rice and water in a medium saucepan. Bring to boil, then turn down heat to low and simmer until all the water is absorbed (8 to 10 minutes). Remove from heat and allow to rest for 10 minutes. Remove lid and allow to cool. Divide into two freezer bags - about 1 1/2 cups per bag. You will only use one bag for the meal. Then place in ziplock bag or container and put it in the freezer.
If you want to go the extra step, you could also cut and measure out the carrots, peas and corn and put them in a freezer bag too. I tend not to bother because this does not take long to do and also, you need to cut the onion fresh anyway.
Remove chicken and rice from the freezer and allow to defrost.
Cut the stems off the leaves of the bok choy. Cut the stems vertically into 1cm/1/3" thick sticks.
Heat wok or fry pan over high heat. Add sesame seeds and toast for 15 seconds, then remove.
Heat 1 tbsp oil in wok, add garlic and stir fry for 20 seconds to flavour the oil. Remove garlic and discard.
Add onion and stir fry for 30 seconds.
Add carrot, peas and corn and stir fry for another 30 seconds.
Add the bok choy stems, cook for 30 seconds.
Add the rice, cooking wine, soy sauce and stock powder and stir fry for another 30 seconds.
Remove wok from heat, then add the bok choy leaves and stir quickly to mix them into the rice. Remove fried rice from wok into large bowl.
Add 1/2 tbsp oil to wok and return to stove, still on high heat.
Remove chicken from marinade (reserve marinade) and place in the wok and stir fry for 1 1/2 minutes until nicely browned but not quite cooked through. Then add the remaining marinade into the wok with 2 tbsp water and allow to cook for 30 seconds until it becomes thick and syrupy. Remove from heat.
Place fried rice into bowls and top with the sticky chicken. Scatter with shallots/scallions and sesame seeds.
1. The best rice to use for fried rice is long grain rice because it is less sticky than short grain rice. If you don't have long grain rice, suitable substitutes (in order of preference) are: brown rice, medium grain rice, jasmine and basmati. Short grain rice is a last resort - it is too sticky to make good fried rice. Risotto rice is not suitable for this recipe.
2. You only need 1 1/2 cups of cooked rice for this recipe. 1 cup of uncooked rice grains makes about 3 cups of cooked rice. It is difficult to cook less than 1 cup of uncooked rice. So the recipe directions are to cook 1 cup of uncooked rice, but then to divide it into 2 bags and only use half for this recipe. Save the other half for the next time you make this!
3. Peel and smash the garlic clove using the side of the knife. You want the garlic to remain in one piece but to burst open to allow the flavours to infuse into the oil.
4. If you need to microwave the rice to defrost it, make sure you remove the cover otherwise it will steam and become mushy which is not suitable for making fried rice.
5. Baby corn spears can be found in the canned vegetables and Asian aisles in supermarkets and are no more expensive than other canned vegetables. You can substitute with canned or frozen corn kernels if you wish.
6. Nutrition per serving.