Ever since enjoying an unassuming yet delicious side of garlic rice at Kuma Inn about a month ago, I’ve been trying — rather unsuccessfully — to recreate it at home. The garlic was at that perfect brink of not-yet-burned but perfectly browned. Its deep, toasty flavor was infused into every grain of rice. Following my recreation attempts, I’ve discovered that it takes a lot of garlic to reach that level of flavor — or else there’s some trick that I haven’t yet discovered.
At any rate, I’ve compromised. I love Thai fried rice, so I threw in some basil leaves for a boost of flavor. Less garlic, more basil, and a little Thai chile for heat — the perfect combination for a tasty, inexpensive vegan dinner. Perhaps I’ll never figure out how to get the intense garlic flavor of Kuma Inn’s garlic rice. But for now I’m perfectly happy enjoying this subtly garlicy rice dish. I enjoyed mine as a main course with tofu and a side of veggies, but you can omit the tofu and serve as a tasty side for an Asian-inspired meal.
Garlic Fried Rice:
1/2 block diced tofu (about 1 1/2 cups diced) (optional)
2 teaspoons olive oil, divided
2 teaspoons sesame oil
6 cloves garlic, minced
3 cups cooked long-grain brown rice
2 Thai chili peppers, sliced
2 green onions, sliced, greens topped off (use for garnish)
1 tablespoon wheat-free tamari
1/4 teaspoon salt (plus more to taste)
20 fresh basil leaves
1. If using tofu: in a large saute pan, heat 1 teaspoon olive oil over medium heat. Add diced tofu and saute until golden brown, about 5 minutes. Remove tofu to a plate.
2. In the same pan, add the rest of the olive oil, sesame oil and minced garlic. Saute garlic over medium-high heat until just browned, about 1 minute. Add cooked rice, scallion, chilies, wheat-free tamari, cooked tofu and salt. Increase heat to high and saute, stirring constantly, for about 3-4 minutes, or until rice starts to brown on the bottom of the pan.
3. Remove pan from heat and add in basil leaves. Stir to incorporate basil. Add salt to taste. Garnish rice with green scallion tops.