Fried rice is sinangag in the Philippines. Garlic fried rice did not really become the standard until the rise of silog breakfast dishes. Silog is the portmanteau of sinangag and itlog (egg). What the main portein the rice and egg are served with modifies the name of the dish. Silog with tapa (fried beef), for instance, is tapsilog while silog with longaniza (local sausage) is longsilog, and so on.
Garlic fried rice is such a simple dish, really. But the way many cooks take short cuts is mind-boggling. I’ve seen recipes where fried rice is cooked, seasoned simply with salt and pepper, and sprinkled with fried garlic on top, and it’s called garlic fried rice. And I can only shake my head in disbelief.
Use garlic oil
To make the tastiest and most aromatic garlic fried rice, you need to stir fry the rice in garlic oil.
Peel and pound cloves of garlic, and cook in oil over low heat. Wait for the garlic bits to turn golden and crisp before scooping them out.
You now have your garlic oil. If you have a lot, just scoop out what you don’t need and reserve for future use.
You’ll need about a teaspoon or so of garlic oil for every cup of rice.
Use cold day-old rice
This is non-negotiable. The rice has to have dried up sufficiently to be cooked into fried rice.
I know that there are cooks who say simply spread newly cooked rice on a tray, leave to cool and you can cook it into fried rice. But that’s really a bad idea because the starch that coats each grain rice is still soft and moist. Don’t do it unless you want something that resembles risotto.
The best way to prep the rice is to place your leftover rice in a covered container and let it sit in the fridge overnight. The next day, with you not doing any additional work, the rice will be at its prime to be cooked into garlic fried rice or any kind of fried rice for that matter.
Reheat the garlic oil. Turn up the heat to high and dump in your rice. Sprinkle in your seasonings. You can use plain salt and pepper, or you may add a little soy sauce or fish sauce. We use herb salt at home.
When the rice is hot and every grain is glistening with garlic oil, take some of the fried garlic and stir in. And that is garlic fried rice done the right way.
Garlic fried rice
- ¼ cup cooking oil
- 1 whole garlic peeled and pounded
- 2 tablespoons garlic oil
- 3 to 4 cups day-old rice
- salt to taste
- pepper to taste
Make garlic oil
- Pour the oil into a wok or frying pan and set the heat to low.
- When the oil is hot, stir in the garlic.
- Cook, stirring occasionally, until the garlic bits are golden and crisp (it takes about eight minutes).
- Scoop out the garlic, drain on a stack or paper towels and set aside.
Cook the garlic fried rice
- Measure the required amount of garlic oil and set aside the excess for future use.
- Reheat the garlic oil, turn up the heat to high and dump in the rice.
- Sprinkle in salt and pepper, or your preferred seasonings.
- Stir fry the rice until hot.
- Take about three-quarters of the fried garlic and stir into the rice.
- Ladle the rice into bowls or plates and sprinkle in the remaining fried garlic.