Happy Wednesday, my happy eating friends!
Do you guys remember my amazing Thai Basil Fried Rice recipe from a while ago? It was made with chicken. It’s super quick and easy, so it’s perfect for any weeknight meal. I’ve made it numerous times with beef, and it is as good as chicken if not better! (Whaaattt? I know!) Since I usually have leftover rice in my fridge, any type of fried rice recipe is very well-loved in our household.
Fried Rice is a very versatile and forgiving recipe. You really can’t mess it up, and I think that’s one of the reasons why I love to make fried rice. But fried rice really has become my go-to recipe ever since I started to eat one vegetarian dinner per week.
So I’m pretty new to this vegetarian meal game. I don’t know many vegetarian dishes and even when I find one, I feel like throwing in some sort of meat to the dish! Do you know what I mean?!?! For example, there was a summer veggie pasta dish, and I felt the need to add some grilled chicken. There was a vegetarian frittata dish, and I thought some crisp bacon bits would really make the dish yummy. It is really hard, and I’m struggling here. To resolve this issue, I actually purchased a vegetarian cookbook! I’m going to force myself to cook something out of it every week! Let’s see how that goes!!!
Anyhow, while I was waiting for my cookbook to be delivered, I made vegetarian Thai Basil Fried Rice! (I wasn’t feeling the pasta dish without my meat at the moment, haha)
My biggest challenge with making this dish vegetarian was mimicking the savory flavor that I usually get from cooking chicken or beef. I thought about adding tofu, but tofu can provide meaty texture but not necessarily the flavor. Tofu is a very clean-tasting ingredient. It’s great for absorbing any flavor that you introduce to the dish but on its own, it has an extremely mild flavor.
Then I remembered cooked garlic has a sweet and savory flavor!!! So I doubled the amount of garlic from my original Thai Basil Fried Rice recipe. I browned/fried the minced garlic until it was slightly darker than light brown to really develop its savory flavor. The smell is actually potent! Of course not in a bad way, but in a delicious, yummy way! The very smell of when you walk into your favorite Thai restaurant! Yum!!
Disclaimer: if you are frying the garlic with minced Thai chili, it will make you cough! Please turn on your fan while cooking this. It’s not a sign of weakness. It has a smoky and spicy smell! Thai chili is no joke! It is very spicy, but it’s totally worth it if you are into spicy food like I am 😉
The key is not to burn the garlic. So as soon as your garlic is turning light brown, add your onion and pepper. Make sure you have all the veggies and sauce prepared and ready to go. I personally think this is the hardest part of making the dish. What I do is place the bowl that contains chopped onion and bell pepper right next to the pan, so as soon as the garlic turns to light brown, I dump my veggies into the pan! You think you have enough time to walk 5 steps to grab that bowl from the other side of the countertop, but trust me, garlic can burn in a blink of an eye! So be ready!!
This vegetarian Thai Basil Fried Rice is as good as my meat version! It’s easy, quick, and delicious! Even if you are not a vegetarian, it’s so worth it to give this dish a try! Meatless Thai Basil Fried Rice for your next meal, anyone??!!
Vegetarian Thai Basil Fried Rice
- Prep Time: 5 mins
- Cook Time: 15 mins
- Total Time: 20 mins
- Yield: 2 servings 1x
- Category: Main
- 2 cups cooked rice, at least a day old
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 5–7 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 red Thai peppers, minced (optional)
- 1/2 large onion, diced
- 1/2 cup bell pepper, diced
- 1 cup loosely packed fresh Thai basil
- 2 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon sweet soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon brown sugar
- 1/2 tablespoon garlic chili sauce
- In a small bowl, mix everything for the sauce and set it aside.
- Prepare all of your vegetables. I dice my bell pepper first, then onion, and red Thai pepper/chili. I also rinse the Thai basil in cold water and dry it with a paper towel. Pick the leaves and tear them into bite sizes if the leaves are too big.
- In a large non-stick pan, add 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil. Add minced garlic and Thai red pepper/chili. Cook stirring frequently until the garlic turns to light brown. If you are adding Thai pepper, it will smell smoky and spicy. It may make you cough, but we are adding a lot of ingredients that will balance the spiciness.
- As soon as your garlic turns light brown in color, add chopped onion and bell pepper. Cook for a minute or two with frequent stirring.
- Add the rice and pour the sauce on top. Stir until everything until it is well mixed.
- Turn off the heat and remove the pan from the heat and add the Thai basil. Mix one last time until the Thai basil is slightly wilted and mixed into the rice.