Last Updated on August 25, 2022
When you have any leftover rice, it’s a perfect time to make fried rice like my Vegan Garlic Fried Rice which is inspired by my mom’s cooking that I ate a million times. It’s super quick to make but you won’t believe how flavorful the garlic fried rice is with the key ingredient — garlic chips! This comforting and heart-warming dish brings me back to my childhood!
Garlic Fried Rice Nostalgia
To start off the post, I’d like to share the story behind this dish!
This fried rice was a childhood memory of my mom’s garlic fried rice. On weekends, my family would typically have a big dinner around the table with a portable indoor grill. Yup, it’s a typical Asian family thing!
The preparation of the meal started right after lunch which took a couple of hours for my mom but did it all on her own while I just watched her working in the kitchen. Occasionally, she would ask me to help lend a hand (like making dumplings) but that was pretty much it.
She would really put her time and effort to feed the family with home-cooked meals all the time. Still to this day, I can clearly remember the slow afternoon of the food prep with her followed by the excitement of finally tasting the food.
After the long preparation, we would sit at the table to eat dinner which typically went for at least two hours or more. We would just keep cooking and eating at the table while we watched the weekend TV shows.
Why cooking and eating at the table? Again, it’s because the weekend family dinner was always around a hot indoor grill on a portable gas stove burner (if you’re Japanese, Korean, or Chinese, you know exactly what I’m referring to!) On the grill, we would cook dumplings, sukiyaki, okonomiyaki, takoyaki, shabu-shabu, hot pot, and Japanese-Korean style BBQ called “yakiniku.”
The garlic fried rice would always make an appearance at the end of Korean style BBQ. My mom would cook the garlic fried rice on the same hot indoor grill where all the flavors and bits from the BBQ still remained!
That’s why I call this Mom’s Garlic Fried Rice.
Mom’s Garlic Fried Rice
The original garlic fried rice that my mom made was not vegan-friendly. But I really wanted to recreate the same (or at least similar) taste that I clearly remember eating.
She used only a few ingredients but it always tasted amazing. There was nothing fancy in it and no special techniques that she used. But somehow, it tasted unbelievably flavorful! It was just a handful of humble ingredients such as:
- Leftover Rice
- Soy Sauce
- Bonito Flakes (topping)
For my vegan garlic fried rice, I kept the ingredients that are as close as to how my mom would cook minus the ones that I no longer eat because they aren’t vegan. For example, I swapped out bonito flakes for kizami nori (shredded nori) to give the “sea” flavor. Adding kizami nori topping is optional but I highly recommend it!
While I can’t really make the same exact one as hers, my vegan version still simple but tastes great and comforting!
Key Ingredients for Vegan Garlic Fried Rice
Oil + Butter + Soy Sauce
My mom combined both neutral oil and butter. Hers was made with traditional dairy butter but vegan butter does the same job. Oil + butter gives more depth to the overall taste.
Also, there’s something about combining butter + soy sauce that works like magic! It’s a Japanese thing that everyone does to flavor the food but if you never tried the combo, it’s a must!
To make this garlic fried rice super delicious, make garlic chips by starting to cook in cold oil then slowly crisping them up until golden brown! This way, the aroma of garlic also transfers to the oil. It’s a win-win.
I cook the garlic fried rice with some of the garlic chips towards the end then add the remaining chips to garnish. I love biting into crispy garlic!
Mom’s garlic fried rice had no shiitake. Instead, she used some random bits left from the BBQ. I use shiitake to give just a little more flavor element. Actually, I’ve made one without and it tasted just as good! So, you could skip it if you like.
If you use mushroom, I’d recommend using some umami-rich Asian kinds such as shiitake, enoki, king oyster, and/or shimeji (beech) mushrooms.
Choice of Rice
If you have a gas stove with a proper wok and a wok ladle, you’re in better luck on making great fried rice. Well, I don’t have none of those but I can still make great and authentic tasting Japanese fried rice.
I buy my authentic Japanese rice from the rice factory New York. They carry extended selections of Japan grown rice including organic and natural farming rice.
The key is to use Japanese (or Korean) rice.
To make great Japanese (or Korean) fried rice, it’s important to use starchy (sticky) short grain rice. Other types of rice like Basmati and/or Jasmine rice are great but it’s not a good choice for this recipe. They just don’t’ have the best flavor for Japanese or Korean fried rice.
Also, I use white rice for making fried rice. Despite of the health benefits of brown rice, there’s nothing more comforting than eating fried rice made with white rice!
Leftover Cold Rice
Another important element to make a great fried rice is the state of rice.
I can’t emphasize enough that you need day-old leftover rice for making good fried rice. Have you encountered a really wet or mushy fried rice? That’s because it was probably made with freshly cooked rice which has too much moisture. The rice needs to be dried to make great fried rice!
It depends on the type of rice you use and how it’s previously cooked. But, typically cooked Japanese short grain rice gets dried the next day and the day after has even better texture for making fried rice. Any cooked rice should be good enough to consume within 2-3 days.
When you make fresh rice, make extra on purpose so you can save some for making fried rice.
Be sure to check out the “Step-by-Step Instructions (w/ Photos)” after the Printable Recipe!
Vegan Garlic Fried Rice
- 1 tbsp neutral oil plus more for separating rice grains
- 1/2 tbsp unsalted vegan butter
- 3 cloves garlic thinly sliced
- 1/2 cup diced yellow onion
- 1 scallion finely chopped and separate green and white
- 3 shiitake mushrooms trim off the end of the stem and thinly sliced
- 3 cups cold day-old plain short grain rice
- 1 1/2 tsp sea salt adjust to taste
- 1 1/2 tsp soy sauce
- 1/8 tsp white pepper
- Kizami nori optional
- Pour neutral oil and garlic slices in a non-stick frying pan. Turn on the stove at medium heat and slowly cook the garlic until golden brown and crispy. Remove the garlic chips from the oil (leave the oil in the pan) and set it aside.
- Turn up the heat to medium high. Use the same pan and add vegan butter. Once the butter is melted, add yellow onion and white part of scallion. Cook for 2-3 minutes until onions are translucent. Add shiitake mushrooms and cook for another 2-3 minutes. Once shiitake has shrunk down, add a tiny pinch of sea salt and give a quick stir.
- Next, separate lumps of cold rice as much as possible then add to the pan. Mix and cook for 2-3 minutes until the rice is reheated and mixed thoroughly. Adjust the heat as necessary to avoid burning too quickly.
- Season with salt and taste it. Make sure that it is not too salty before adding soy sauce. Next, add soy sauce and white pepper then give a quick stir. Lastly, add green part of scallions and some of the garlic chips back to the pan and stir.
- Serve immediately with the remainder of garlic chips on top. Use kizami nori on top as an optional topping.
- What separates this garlic fried rice (inspired by my mom’s garlic fried rice) from other garlic fried rice recipes is the use of SLICED GARLIC to make GARLIC CHIPS!
- To extract the full flavor from the garlic, start cooking garlic slices with cold oil in a pan. Then turn on the heat at medium to slowly cook until they become crispy. In this method, you don’t burn the garlic and also, you can transfer the aroma of garlic to the oil as well.
Choice of Rice
- For the authentic taste, use Japanese short grain rice.
- Day-old cold rice is the best for making good fried rice! Freshly made rice isn’t recommended (it’ll be mushy and wet.)
- It’s important to separate the grains with a rice paddle (or a fork) before adding to the pan and/or during cooking.
- I use both neutral oil and vegan butter. Vegan butter adds a little more depth to the flavor (my mom would also use butter, too)
- This is one of those recipes that the measurement doesn’t have to be super precise. If you have a little more/less rice, garlic etc., no problem! It may not taste the same as mine but it should work!
- As mentioned in “Choice of Rice”, be sure to use day-old cold rice for making great fried rice. Nothing is worse than wet fried rice…
Kizami Nori (optional)
- Kizami nori is Japanese shredded nori.
- If you don’t have kizami nori, you can shred sushi nori seaweed with kitchen scissors.
- See more information on Kizami Nori (Shredded Nori) on Vegan Japanese Pantry Guide.
Step-by-Step Instructions (w/ Photos)
Have all the ingredients ready!
1. Pour neutral oil and garlic slices in a non-stick frying pan.
Turn on the stove at medium heat and slowly cook the garlic until golden brown and crispy.
Remove the garlic chips from the oil (leave the oil in the pan) and set it aside.
2. Turn up the heat to medium high. Use the same pan and add vegan butter.
Once the butter is melted, add yellow onion and white part of scallion. Cook for 2-3 minutes until onions are translucent.
Add shiitake mushrooms and cook for another 2-3 minutes.
Once shiitake has shrunk down, add a tiny pinch of sea salt and give a quick stir.
3. Next, separate lumps of cold rice as much as possible then add to the pan.
Mix and cook for 2-3 minutes until the rice is reheated and mixed thoroughly. Adjust the heat as necessary to avoid burning too quickly.
Next, add soy sauce and white pepper then give a quick stir.
Lastly, add green part of scallions and some of the garlic chips back to the pan and stir.
5. Serve immediately with the remainder of garlic chips on top. Use kizami nori on top as an optional topping.
If you enjoy the recipe, please share, leave a comment below and tag us @plantbased_matters on Instagram! We appreciate your kind support 🙂