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Oct 5, 2010 11:28 PM

stir-fry ... why the rice?

I grew up eating rice with most meals. But much as I love to eat, I'm getting to the age where I need to allocate my calories, and I also notice that the rice sugar-crash probably isn't great for me.

So, having seasoned my new carbon-steel wok with carefully saved bacon drippings, I was wondering ... do I really need rice with that stir-fry? Assuming that I can get used to eating my stir-fry without rice - and I can - is there any (nutritional) reason, other than Chinese custom, that I need a bed of rice under my piping hot stir-fry? It's mostly veggies, so I don't expect to end up in Atkins-ketosis.


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  1. I eat stir-fried vegetables without rice all the time. Never occurred to me that it was out of the ordinary.

    1. My Wife and I have stir fry without rice all the time. Sometimes we have rice, but we might also have potatoes, if we want. I do make sure to have rice if I'm making a big meal of it on the weekend or something, but for a quick after work meal, most of the time its just chicken and veggies.

      1. I grew up eating rice with everything from stir fry to pasta, so I understand the automatic compulsion. Now that I've broken the habit, however, I can enjoy my stir fry without the extra calories. Subbing brown rice for white may also help make the transition easier.

        1. When I eat at Chinese restaurants, I ignore the rice. That's not why eat there.

          Funny, when I was in China I don't even remember being served rice....

          1. Rice is cheap, and is traditionally used to pad out a meal for populations that could not afford to feed its people with the meat and vegetables that it had access to. So it developed into a cultural thing for many Asian countries, much like bread in other cultures. It's also why stir-fries exist: small amounts of meat and veggies can be stretched out to feed more people.

            Aside from this, I also have read in a book or two that rice is complimentary to many dishes, much like people who like to drink beer/wine/alcohol with certain dishes. Take a bite of the meat/veggie-based dish with the rice and the rice balances out the stronger flavor of the accompanying dish, rounding out the spices/heat/saltiness/sweetness/etc and allowing you to savor the flavor longer without it being an assault on the tongue and tiring your tastebuds out. I agree with this, as eating American-Chinese food without rice is total overload to me personally. There's just too much sauce, oil, salt for me to enjoy more than a couple of bites of any of the "entree" dishes in American-Chinese food, so I HAVE to have it with a lot of rice (much more than the puny amount they usually give out). It's how I was raised to eat it, too (parents owned and ran many Chinese restaurants). I mean, I grew up on the stuff, so I've tasted literally every dish on the menu. Rice was essential to most (if not all) of them, even if it only served as a base for something like lobster sauce. In fact, even lobster sauce is nothing without the taste of the white jasmine rice mingling with it, helping it along. I find a lot of actual Chinese/Asian dishes are the same way

            Again, this might just be personal. But it is a feeling my entire family agrees with. Maybe we just trained out taste buds a certain way!