College Dinners 101: Nobody Says Leftovers Have To Be Boring

Making The Most Out Of What’s In Your Fridge

by ALEJANDRO REYES VEGA, CSU Public Relations Assistant 

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EDITOR’S NOTE: This is Alejo’s final blog post as a member of the CSU Communications student staff. As he prepares to graduate, we here at the inSIDER and the Centennial Student Union offer our CONGRATULATIONS and a sincere THANK YOU for all you’ve done. Best wishes. Don’t be a stranger. And, GO MAVERICKS!

I decided to do my most used versatile recipe as my last blog. It can be done with almost anything as long as you have some basic key ingredients and it doesn’t take long.

As a college student I had to learn that time is precious and my hunger never ceases, so I learned many recipes that are fast, easy, and don’t require much. Fried rice is so easy and it can be made with so many different ingredients in all sorts of variations.

The recipe that I am doing tonight is from leftovers and whatever I have in my fridge, so I only have onions, shallots, garlic, day-old rice, and salmon leftover cuts (in the spirit of complete disclosure, I can’t find my car keys so I haven’t gone grocery shopping).

I cut the salmon into smaller even pieces and finely chopped the onions, shallots, and garlic. Make sure to use a large enough pan where you can fit all your ingredients and set it a little over medium. While the pan reaches temp, season the salmon. You want to make sure that it has flavor and the salt removes some of the moisture but remember that you will use soy-sauce later so do not oversalt it.

Once the pan has reached temperature, drizzle some oil and sear one side of your protein (salmon in this case) and flip after two to four minutes. We are looking for a nice golden color but it doesn’t have to be cooked all the way. Once it has a nice color to it remove the salmon and add your onion until they are translucent/golden and add your shallots and garlic. This should always be the general order of the ingredients regardless of your protein and veggies.

If I had broccoli, carrots, or other vegetables that need to be cooked I would add it at this point. Their cook time will vary depending on your preferences. One of the great things about making your own fried rice is that you don’t have to eat anything overcooked or undercooked if you don’t want to. Remember that you can always cook and remove components as needed. Since I don’t have any other vegetables I added my rice and broke it apart while mixing it in it with the vegetables.

One the rice has been broken apart and mixed with the vegetables you can add more oil if needed and your sauces. My favorite combination is teriyaki sauce, and all you need is soy sauce, brown sugar and or honey, water, more garlic if you want, and ginger if you have it. If you want to make it thicker you can always add some cornstarch, just make sure to dissolve it in water separately first.

Shortly after adding the sauce, add your protein back in and let it reduce while stirring everything together. It should only take a few minutes and at this point is where I would normally add any vegetables that don’t need to be cooked long such as green onions. Once the excess liquid has evaporated, taste it and adjust any seasonings as needed, and finally plate it.

I prefer to have bigger chunks of salmon so I try not to over stir it and be cautious not to break it apart. If you are cooking with another type of meat you might not have to worry about breaking it apart. My final ingredient is a drizzle of toasted sesame oil. This is a game changer that will bring everything together and add a layer of complexity and flavor to your meal.

I hope you enjoyed this last blog post and keep in mind that fried rice can be done super quickly with any sort of meat and veggies. Just make sure to be mindful of your seasoning and the cook times of your ingredients and if you want that extra pop at the end, I highly recommend toasted sesame oil. I have cooked fried rice endless times with countless variations and I have never been disappointed and it is a forgiving dish that can only get better with practice.

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Alejo is a student at Minnesota State University, Mankato, born and raised mainly in Venezuela. Having had many opportunities to travel, explore, and go on a variety of adventures. Alejo’s Mischievous Adventures captures some of those exploits.

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