This easy fried rice with red rice, Thai flavors and crunchy vegetables is a delicious healthy version of the fried rice. This unique rice recipe shows step-by-step instructions on how to make red rice and season it with lemongrass and lime flavors.
Thai red rice recipe overview
Hello, rice lovers! Why is it that eating rice has become so difficult these days with all that health talk going on about rice being the “villain” of a healthy diet? It’s the type of rice and the quantity you eat that matters. The fiber-rich and nutrition-rich red rice cooked with Thai flavors of lemongrass and kaffir lime leaves and stir-fried with vegetables and eggs is the answer to all your rice woes. With this fried red rice recipe, you can have your favorite fried rice and eat it too!
This simple and quick fried rice recipe is perfect for a weekday lunchbox or a weeknight dinner that doesn’t keep you busy in the kitchen for long.
Does the citrusy, refreshing flavor of lemongrass make you wonder why it should be called a “grass” at all? Yes, I agree, it does sound quite demeaning. Well, my love for the Thai herbs –lemongrass and kaffir lime leaves has transformed into this flavourful fried rice recipe with red rice and some veggies thrown in, with egg as an option. So HEALTHY, so TASTY!
Red rice nutrition
Red rice is rich in minerals and fiber which makes it a lot more nutritious and more attractive in terms of taste and health than white rice. In fact, red rice is the most nutritious rice variety. (source)
Though the calories are almost the same for all types of rice (216 calories for 1 cup of cooked red rice), the antioxidants, fiber and nutrition in red rice make it the best choice.
- The red rice gets its rich color from an antioxidant called anthocyanins, which can reduce inflammation, allergy, prevent risks of cancer and help in weight management.
- manganese helps in strengthening metabolism.
- magnesium helps in controlling migraine, lowers blood pressure as well as risks of heart attacks.
- calcium helps in maintaining healthy bones and teeth and prevents risks of arthritis and osteoporosis.
- Selenium protects the body against infections.
- high fiber content slows down the digestion process which leads to a strengthened digestive system.
- fiber also aids in slowing down the rate at which carbs are converted into blood sugar, making red rice one of the foods with a low glycemic index. This means your blood glucose does not shoot up as when you eat white rice.
For the Thai flavors, you will need lemongrass, galangal and kaffir lime leaves. You’ll find them at any Asian store in separate packings. Here in Singapore, we get them as a “tom yum combo” with other ingredients like shallots, chilies and lime.
Galangal belongs to the same family as ginger but has a very distinctive taste. If you can’t find it, substitute with ginger. Lemongrass and lime leaves are the heart and soul of this fried rice recipe, so guys, try to hunt for them if you REALLY LOVE Thai flavors.
Veggies for fried rice
Any vegetables used for regular fried rice can be used here, like carrots, peas, cabbage, bell peppers/ capsicum along with onions, garlic and chilies. Egg can be added if you are not vegan. For protein, stir-fry firm tofu seasoned with soy sauce and pepper along with the vegetables.
Step by step instructions
Peel the outer layer of the lemongrass stalks, chop them into 2-inch pieces with diagonal cuts (as seen in the pictures above) and lightly smash them with the flat part of your knife. Break the kaffir lime leaves into lobes (they are double-lobed leaves).
Does red rice need to be soaked before cooking?
If you have the time, soak the red rice for about 30 minutes. This results in fluffier rice and also helps speed up the cooking process.
Rice to water ratio
The quantity of water or stock to cook rice may vary depending on the type of rice being used and the cooking method. I’ve used Thai unpolished red rice here. If you’re cooking the rice in an electric rice cooker you will require 2 cups of water for 1 cup of red rice.
If you’re not familiar with cooking rice, there is a method to cook rice perfectly EVERY SINGLE TIME.
How do you cook red rice?
Fool-proof method to cook red rice or any kind of rice:
Boil 4 cups of water (for each cup of rice) with flavorings if needed, in this case, lemongrass pieces and kaffir lime leaves. Vegetable stock can also be used instead of water. Once the water boils, add washed rice to the boiling water. Bring it to a boil again and then simmer for about 20 to 25 minutes until cooked. Keep a close watch after 15 minutes of simmering.
The rice grains should be cooked throughout but not mushy. (the best way to check for doneness is to test a single grain with your fingers, you should be able to squeeze it easily.)
Once the rice is cooked, drain in a colander and pick out lemongrass and lime leaves. Transfer the rice back into the pot and keep it closed for about 10 minutes. This will allow the rice to steam and get fluffy. Allow the rice to cool by spreading it on a large plate or tray. The red rice needs to be thoroughly cooled before stir-frying so that the grains don’t stick together.
Once you’ve mastered the technique to cook red rice this way, your options for healthy fried red rice recipes are endless: replace the white rice in veg fried rice, egg, shrimp or chicken fried rice.
Why this method works
I call this method of cooking the rice fool-proof (especially for fried rice recipe) because when you boil the rice and drain, the starch is removed from the rice and so the grains don’t stick together. Stir-frying the rice becomes easier.
Can I use leftover rice for the fried rice?
Yes, of course. It is common practice to use leftover rice for cooking fried rice. The process of refrigeration takes away the extra moisture from the rice, making it best suited for fried rice.
I use this hack to get almost the same effect: (when I don’t have enough leftover rice)
- After the rice cools down, refrigerate for 20 to 30 minutes. You can use this time to prep the veggies.
- If you’re fast enough to do the prep work in 10 minutes, freeze the rice for 10 minutes! Use the same tray you used to cool the rice in and leave it open.
This method works for any kind of rice- brown rice, white or even basmati rice.
Stir-frying the vegetables and red rice
Boil the green peas and keep aside.
Stir-fry the minced galangal/ ginger and garlic in oil on a high flame until you get an aroma, but not browned. Add the onions and chili and stir-fry until translucent. Add the grated carrots, bell peppers/ capsicum, cooked peas, soy sauce and stir-fry for 5 minutes.
For stir-frying, the flame has to be high all the time. Stir-frying preserves the nutrients of vegetables and keeps them crisp. That’s also the reason why Singapore fried bee hoon is so healthy and crunchy!
If you’re using eggs, beat them with a dash of salt and pepper. Make space for eggs in the middle of the pan by moving the vegetables to the sides. Pour the eggs and scramble until almost cooked.
Mix in the rice and stir well. It is important that the rice has to be added before the eggs get fully cooked so that the eggs combine well with the rice. Turn off the heat and garnish with chopped cilantro.
Now, GO AHEAD. Eat your stir-fried red rice without an ounce of guilt!
What to pair this fried rice with
Like this fried rice? Asian stir-fried chicken with red rice and red beans is another recipe with red rice you might love.
In search of brown rice recipes? GO for:
Looking for a low-carb rice/ keto option? Try these:
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Thank you and happy cooking!
This post was originally published in 2018, and has been updated with new photos to give you an awesome experience.