Vegetable fried rice – A Chinese staple with an Afro-Caribbean twist for a delicious and colorful weeknight side dish.
You ever see vegetables so pretty you end up buying way more than you need? That was me at the farmer’s market when I saw the prettiest of all ladyfingers (okra). I had to get them and just felt like I had a built-in excuse to either create a bunch of different recipes and/or invite friends/family over to help me with them.
Fried rice for me is usually a leftover brunch recipe for me. Whether it’s Friday night PF Chang or our favorite local Chinese spot, we end up with way too much steamed rice. No problem, as it’s usually the end of the week and I’m looking to get rid of whatever remaining fresh ingredients are still on hand, usually onions, carrots, peppers, etc. and possibly frozen shrimp. On occasion, I have extra smoked brisket and will make this brisket fried rice dish.
Today it’s all about okra as the guest ingredient in this vegetable fried rice. The okra gives the dish that Southern or African vibe. Coconut flavor from the coconut oil, plus the habanero, lime juice, allspice, and cilantro provide the Caribbean vibes. Critical to making this dish sing is the mix of spices and fresh seasonings (garlic and ginger). The paprika gives that smoky earthy element while the fresh ginger adds some zing and the garlic is kind of the unifier.
Is Vegetable Fried Rice Spicy?
Though habaneros are pretty high up on the fiery heat scale, it’s presence in this dish is low profile. It’s only used to infuse the coconut oil. So rather than slicing it up and making it an integral part of the dish, I just added slits to a whole habanero so when heated in the oil you only get the essence of the heat. So overall you get the fruity elements of the habanero with just a very small hint of it’s heat.
Is the okra slimy?
The question of slime always comes up with okra like a scarlet letter. Adding okra to a vegetable fried rice is the perfect anti-slime move. This is a quick cook hit heat cooking dish which basically nukes the slime and eliminates it completely. For more detailed ways to combat slime see this okra and collard green salad recipe post which features several tips for okra slime control.
What If I Don’t Have Leftover Rice?
Chinese restaurants have perfected steamed rice, which is why it’s just easier and no stress to use for any fried rice dish. Plus it’s a great short-cut. If you don’t have it on hand, feel free to use any of those “Ready Rice” packets you can buy at any grocery store. Uncle Ben’s varieties are pretty much fool proof – just 90 seconds in the microwave and you’re good to go. Even better, they offer a Jasmine Rice version that perfect for this dish. However, if you’d rather make your own rice then try this coconut ginger rice for a tutorial for making the perfect rice.
Okra Fried Rice Cooking Tips
- Dryness is essential – allows food to get that wok taste. Moisture cools skillet down and you want that bad boy really hot otherwise the rice will start to stick to the wok
- You want individual grains of rice when all is done not lumpy clumps. Break-up the rice before adding to the wok
- Use Jasmine rice for the perfect balance of stickiness and individual grains
- Make sure that the pan is really hot before adding the rice to allow the rice to brown and acquire some texture
- A small amount of soy sauce along will suffice.
- Less is more; too many ingredients make this something other than fried rice
Making Vegetable Fried Rice
If you make this vegan okra fried rice come back and leave me a comment below with your feedback. Definitely take a photo of the dish and be sure to tag #foodfidelity so that I can see them.
You can also keep up with my food exploits as well as original recipes! You can find me on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest. If you like any of the music you find on the site, visit me at Spotify to find curated monthly playlists.
For other okra based recipes try this Crispy Roasted Okra and Southern Fried Okra as well as a deep dive into all things okra including its many health benefits and even more recipes in this post on “Eating More Okra.“
- 1/2 lb Okra sliced diagonally
- 1 med Red onion diced
- 1 red bell pepper diced
- 1 habanero chili
- 1/4 tsp Ginger grated
- 1/4 Garlic minced
- 1 tsp allspice
- 1 tsp Paprika
- 1 tsp Kosher Salt
- 1 tsp Ground Black Pepper
- 1/4 cup fresh Cilantro de-stemmed and chopped
- 1 medium Lime juiced
- 1 tbsp Coconut oil
- 2 tbsp Soy sauce
- 2 cups rice cooked
- Using sharp knife cut slits into sides of habanero.
- Heat oil on low and add garlic and habanero to infuse the oil. Cook 2-3 minutes.
- Add onions and sauté with salt and pepper
- Heat pan to med-high, add okra and sauté 3-4 minutes
- Stir in the bell pepper, paprika, and allspice.
- Grate ginger right into the pan.
- Add soy sauce, cilantro, and rice and mix well.
- Add additional seasoning if needed and finish with lime juice. Serve
Make sure that the pan is really hot before adding the rice to allow the rice to brown and acquire some texture
A small amount of soy sauce along will suffice.