In Filipino homes, the smell that wakes up many families is not coffee brewing or bacon frying, but slices of garlic sizzling in oil.
It's for a fried rice known as sinangag, a way to use up the previous day's rice by packing it chock-full of crisp, toasted garlic. Sliced garlic is deeply browned in oil to create golden garlic chips that are mixed into the rice along with a flavorful oil that infuses the entire dish.
In this recipe from our book "Cook What You Have," which draws on pantry staples to assemble easy, weeknight meals, we add chicken to transform it into a main dish that can be eaten any time of the day. Soy sauce, scallions and a small amount of sugar give the rice complexity.
For the best texture, use cooked rice that's been refrigerated until firm. To make enough for this recipe, in a large saucepan, combine 2 cups water and 1½ cups jasmine rice (or regular long-grain white rice) that's been rinsed and drained. Bring to a simmer over medium-high, then reduce to low, cover and cook for 15 to 18 minutes.
Let the rice stand, covered, for 10 minutes, then transfer to a wide, shallow bowl. Cool to room temperature, then cover and refrigerate until well chilled.
Garlic Fried Rice with Chicken
Start to finish: 35 minutes
8 ounces boneless, skinless chicken thighs, trimmed and cut into ½- to ¾-inch pieces
2 tablespoons soy sauce, divided
½ teaspoon white sugar
Kosher salt and ground black pepper
3 tablespoons grapeseed or other neutral oil, divided
8 medium garlic cloves, thinly sliced
3 scallions, thinly sliced, white and green parts reserved separately
4 cups cooked and chilled long-grain white rice, preferably jasmine rice (see headnote)
In a medium bowl, stir together the chicken, 1 tablespoon soy sauce, the sugar and ¼ teaspoon salt. In a 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium-high, heat 1 tablespoon oil until shimmering. Add the chicken in an even layer and cook without stirring until browned on the bottom, 2 to 3 minutes. Stir the chicken, then cook, stirring occasionally, until well browned all over and cooked through, another 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer the chicken to a plate; set aside.
Wash and dry the skillet. Set it over medium-low and add the remaining 2 tablespoons oil and the garlic. Cook, stirring only occasionally at first then more often once the garlic begins to color, until some of the slices are light golden brown, about 5 minutes. Add the scallion whites and cook, stirring, until most of the garlic is golden brown, about 2 minutes.
Add the rice, breaking up any clumps, followed by the remaining 1 tablespoon soy sauce and ¼ teaspoon salt. Cook over medium-high, stirring and scraping the bottom of the pan to incorporate the garlic and any browned bits, until the rice is heated through, about 2 minutes. Add the chicken and any accumulated juices; cook, stirring, until warmed through, about 1 minute.
Off heat, taste and season with salt. Transfer to a serving dish, then sprinkle with the scallion greens and pepper.