Kid-friendly Mighty Mongolian Fried Rice Recipe - Sticky Fingers Cooking
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Recipe: Mighty Mongolian Fried Rice

Recipe: Mighty Mongolian Fried Rice

Mighty Mongolian Fried Rice

by Erin Fletter
Photo by monticello/
prep time
40 minutes
cook time
25 minutes
4-6 servings

Fun Food Story

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Mighty Mongolian Fried Rice

Spices! Mongolia is another country we are newly featuring at Sticky Fingers, and we chose spices to take our young chefs on a culinary journey across the world. It would be fun to have your kids close their eyes and visualize traveling by sea to the Spice Islands, as explorers did hundreds and hundreds of years ago. They told stories of smelling cloves in the air while sailing the seas in search of the origin of these commodities. Have you noticed how kids love to see, smell, touch, and taste their way through cooking? Through life, really. 

Spices are a wonderful way to emphasize how our sense of smell enhances our skills in the kitchen because we can get a sense of what food will taste like by the scent of our raw ingredients. How many spices can your kid chefs identify? It’s up to you and them to choose which spices you use in your Mongolian Fried Rice. Make it your own. We’ve deliberately chosen to forgo soy sauce in this recipe because, albeit delicious, it will overpower the delicacy of the spice blend, and we want kids to experience the taste of whatever combination they choose!

Happy & Healthy Cooking,

Chef Erin, Food-Geek-in-Chief

Fun-Da-Mentals Kitchen Skills

  • blend spices :

    to choose and mix together complementary spices in order to add complex flavor to a dish.

  • dice :

    to cut foods into small pieces of equal size so that the food is cooked evenly or looks uniform and pleasant when used in the recipe.

  • knife skills :

    Bear Claw (growl), Pinch, Plank, and Bridge (look out for trolls)

  • stir-fry :

    to cook meat, fish, or vegetables rapidly over high heat while stirring briskly—used in Asian cooking.

Equipment Checklist

  • Saucepan + matching lid
  • Liquid measuring cup
  • Dry measuring cups
  • Small mixing bowl
  • Cutting board + kid-safe knife
  • Measuring spoons
  • Large sauté pan
  • Wooden spoon or heat-resistant spatula


Mighty Mongolian Fried Rice

  • 1 C dried long-grain rice
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 C mixed raw vegetables (broccoli, bell pepper, carrots, green beans, cauliflower, zucchini, mushrooms, or snap peas)
  • 1 T spice mixture, using as many spices as you have (at least 3!): paprika, coriander, chili powder, ginger, cumin, turmeric, garlic or onion powder, and black pepper
  • 1 pinch sugar
  • 2 T butter, or olive or vegetable oil **(for DAIRY ALLERGY use a nut-free oil, like olive or vegetable)**

Food Allergen Substitutions

Mighty Mongolian Fried Rice

  • Dairy: Substitute a nut-free oil, like olive or vegetable oil, for butter.


Mighty Mongolian Fried Rice

measure + boil + cover + simmer

Measure 2 cups of water and 1 cup of rice and add to a saucepan. Add 1/2 teaspoon of salt and stir. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to simmer and cover. Rice takes about 15 minutes to cook and is finished when all the water has evaporated and soaked into the rice. Turn off the heat and let sit, covered, for 10 minutes.

dice + measure + mix + blend

While rice cooks, dice 2 cups of mixed vegetables. Measure selected spices using a 1/2 teaspoon or big pinches for a total of 1 tablespoon spice mixture and add to a small mixing bowl. Then add 1 pinch of sugar and mix to blend spices.

sauté + add

To a large sauté pan, add 2 tablespoons of butter or oil. Add the diced veggies and sauté for a few minutes until crisp-tender. Sprinkle spices over the veggies and stir. Then add cooked rice to the sauté pan and stir until rice and veggies are combined. Top with Cumin Frizzled Onions (see recipe) and enjoy!

Surprise Ingredient: Spices!

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Photo by Engin Akyurt

Hi there!

"Let's see if you can guess who I am. I'm a small but essential ingredient in dishes; I come in many types and forms; I might be very colorful or dull and extremely hot or subtle; plus, I'm almost never left out of a dish, at least a good tasting dish! Have you guessed yet? I'm Spice! You might use just one or several of us in a recipe! What's your favorite spice? Is it cinnamon, cloves, or ginger? Perhaps you are very daring and like to add ground cayenne pepper or even Carolina reaper pepper (the hottest!) to your food. I hope you'll give many of us a try. You never know; you just might discover a new favorite!"


  • A spice is a seed, fruit, root, bark, or another part of a plant primarily used to flavor, color, or preserve food. Herbs differ from spices as they are a plant's leaves, flowers, or stems. Herbs are mainly used to flavor or garnish a dish. Some spices may also be herbs, depending on which parts of the plant are used. One example is Coriander. And, although Garlic is botanically a vegetable, it can be used as a spice or herb!
  • The stories and histories of the spices you see in the grocery store now are rich and span thousands and thousands of years across the world.
  • Spices were considered extremely valuable in ancient times, even more than gold (especially cinnamon, cloves, and black pepper). Now, spices are widely available and cost a small fraction of what they used to. Saffron is considered the most expensive spice. 
  • The Spice Trade happened between ancient civilizations of Asia, Northeast Africa, and Europe.
  • During the ancient Roman Empire, trading largely came from Arabia. Traders supplied cassia, cinnamon, and other spices and purposely kept their sources a secret. This allowed the Arabians to remain the sole traders, and they could control the price, keeping them expensive. 
  • Traders continued to keep their spices' origins secret for several centuries from both Ancient Greek and Ancient Roman civilizations. Finally, in the first century, Pliny the Elder, a Roman scholar, discovered their secret. 
  • Later, during the Middle Ages, Europeans used spices on their food to show off their wealth since spices were still costly at that time. For example, a pound of saffron cost the same as a horse, a pound of ginger was as much as a sheep, and two pounds of mace as much as a cow!
  • The discovery of spices led to exploration along the Spice Route. Europeans were searching for a water route to reach the Spice Islands, the only place where spices were grown at the time. This journey led to the European colonization of India, Indonesia, and other countries of the eastern hemisphere.
  • Spices are important to food because they preserve it, add nutrition, flavor, and color, and tie a recipe to a particular part of the world. For example, cumin is often used in Indian but not Italian food. Likewise, oregano is often used in Greek, Italian, and Mexican food but not Thai food. 
  • Peppercorns have been used as a spice for over 4,000 years!
  • Stories suggest that Chinese courtiers in the third century BCE carried cloves in their mouths to keep their breath sweet when talking with the emperor.
  • Indians have used spices and herbs for thousands of years for cooking and medicine. 
  • Spices native to India were grown as early as the eighth century BCE in the gardens of Babylon.
  • The United States entered the Spice Trade toward the end of the 1700s. They traded salmon, codfish, tobacco, flour, soap, candles, butter, cheese, and beef for spices like pepper, cloves, cinnamon, and ginger.


  • Not only do spices help food taste amazing, but they also have astounding health benefits. For example: 
  • Cinnamon lowers blood sugar, and Ginger helps calm upset stomachs.
  • Turmeric helps the heart stay healthy and protects our brain from losing memory.
  • Black pepper aids in digestion so that our body can eat all the vitamins it needs from the food we eat.
  • Cumin can help with digestion and calm upset stomachs. It's also good for the heart!
  • Paprika has nutrients that are good for the eyes, and Chili powder benefits the brain! 
  • Coriander helps the body get rid of toxic agents, and Cardamom helps fight inflammation.
  • Garlic is great for the heart and the immune system, and it helps prevent the flu!


History of Fried Rice!

Photo by Creative Family/
  • Fried Rice is a main or side dish of cooked rice with a variety of added ingredients, like scrambled eggs, veggies, seafood, or meat. The rice mixture is then stir-fried, using a small amount of oil, in a skillet or wok. It is seasoned with salt, garlic, or other spices, and soy sauce or oyster sauce may be added. You can make it at home using either available leftovers or fresh foods. 
  • The earliest mention of fried rice is from China during the Sui Dynasty (589-619 CE). It is believed to have developed as a way to use leftovers to avoid the Chinese taboo on wasting food.
  • Although the dish began in China, several other Asian countries later adopted their own variations of Chinese fried rice using one or more unique ingredients. For example, in Indonesia, fried rice is considered one of their national dishes called "nasi goreng," and it includes sweet soy sauce and ground shrimp paste. 
  • Fried rice isn't eaten only in Asia, however. Variations found elsewhere in the world include Portugal's "arroz chau-chau" and Peru's "arroz chaufa." In Africa, there is "Nigerian fried rice," and Puerto Rico has "arroz mamposteao." There are many, many more. Often, versions found on other continents began with the fried rice made by Chinese immigrants that were modified by their adopted countries using local foods and cooking methods.  
  • Whichever version you eat and whatever ingredients you add, fried rice is delicious comfort food and a great way to use up leftovers!

Let's Learn About Mongolia + the Spice Trade!

Photo by Katiekk/
  • Mongolia is an East Asian country between China and Russia. It has a semi-presidential system. They have a president elected by the people, who is head of state, and the president nominates a prime minister, who is head of government. Their legislative body or parliament, called the State Great Khural, is also elected.
  • Mongolian is the official language. However, a few other languages and dialects are also spoken in Mongolia, and both English and Russian are taught as foreign languages.
  • The capital and largest city is Ulaanbaatar. About half of Mongolia's population lives there.
  • Mongolia's size is 603,909 square miles. With a population of just over three million, it's the least populated independent nation in the world. Much of its area is a grassy steppe, vast unfarmed grassland prairie with few trees. 
  • The temperature in Mongolia can vary by as much as 35 degrees in one day! (That sounds like Denver, where Sticky Fingers Cooking is based!)
  • Genghis Khan is considered the founder of Mongolia. He rose to power after he united the nomadic tribes of northeast Asia, establishing the largest empire in the world, exceeded only by the British Empire in the 19th century. Within 25 years, Genghis Khan's horsemen conquered an area larger and greater in population than the Romans did in four hundred years.
  • About 30 percent of Mongolians are nomadic or semi-nomadic people and animal farmers. Nomads regularly move from place to place with all their belongings, depending on weather, food availability, and pastureland for their livestock. They will often move in front of a mountain for shelter in winter, and when it is hot and dry in summer, they move next to a river. In autumn, they move up to the hills to collect hay for wintertime. 
  • For many nomadic communities, riding a horse is considered as important as learning to walk, and horses are essential to their culture.
  • "The Five Snouts" form the foundation of Mongolian nomadic culture, lifestyle, and cuisine: horses, sheep, goats, camels, and yaks. Yak milk and mutton are common in Mongolian cuisine. The two-humped Bactrian camel is native to Mongolia.  
  • Nomadic life may sound primitive to us, but their lifestyle is often a choice. Also, nomadic people have cell phones like everyone else! They just happen to travel by camel and horse.
  • Livestock is the leading economic sector for Mongolia, which keeps the nomadic tradition still alive today. However, although that life is traditional, more and more people are moving to the capital, Ulaanbaatar, in search of a more modern lifestyle.
  • Mongolia's climate is arid and often gets just a couple of inches of rain per year. It is also incredibly windy, as there are no trees, tall grasses, or shrubs to break the wind.
  • The Gobi is the world's coldest desert and covers most of Southern Mongolia. Also, it was in the Gobi Desert that the first dinosaur egg fossil was found.
  • Mongolians are incredibly hospitable, and if you visit the countryside of Mongolia, you will likely be greeted at the entrance of a family's traditional dwelling and invited inside for a cup of hot, salty milk tea. 
  • Today, many Mongolians live in yurts, or gers, which are tent-like, dome-shaped dwellings that are light enough to be disassembled, carried many miles across the steppe and assembled again. Solar panels are becoming a common addition to the yurt today, and yurts are more commonly permanent now. 
  • Historically, most people living in Mongolia have been Buddhist. 
  • The "Tsaggan Ubgen" is the Mongolian guardian of life and longevity and a symbol of prosperity and fertility for Mongol people. 
  • The Mongolian diet consists of two food groups: white and red. White foods are dairy products, and red foods are animal meat. Vegetables and spices did not enter the diet until the Mongolian Empire developed, and their use is still limited. However, garlic and onions were highly prized and used as medicine and food. Mongolia's harsh climate does not allow much farming, so they import some vegetables from China and Russia. 
  • Before Mongols began to use spices during the Spice Trade, their food was typically bland and hearty. When they traveled from place to place as warriors, their wives might provide them with a bag of meat, onions, and flour or rice. 
  • Influenced by its neighbors, China and Russia, other foods of Mongolian cuisine include dumplings, barbecue, a stew with noodles, vegetables, meat, and "boortsag," a dessert made of fried dough that can be considered either a cookie or a doughnut.
  • Ancient spice routes were connected to the Silk Trade Route by ports and sea routes. The Silk Route was an interconnected network of trade routes that allowed traders to travel from Europe to China and back again. 
  • Early in the evolution of trade, spices had an enormous impact. Spices were traded along the Silk Route for hundreds of years. The value of spices propelled political, military, and commercial change for the world. Though available in Europe through the Middle Ages, spices passed through many merchants' hands along the Silk Road, which increased their cost enormously. This prompted explorers to seek voyages to the islands where the spices grew. 
  • The Spice Trade is what created the city of New York! New York was originally New Amsterdam, a Dutch colony. After the Second Anglo-Dutch War, a treaty returned Manhattan to the British and Run Island in Indonesia, one of the Molucca Islands, to the Dutch. Several nations sought control of the Moluccas, also known as the "Spice Islands," because cloves, mace, and nutmeg grew exclusively there.
  • Traders and explorers found alternative routes to Asia when traders in the Middle East set high tax rates on their merchandise. Instead of unreasonably high tax rates, the Mongols gave traders tax exemption. In addition, Genghis Khan offered merchants a kind of passport that allowed them to safely travel along the Silk Road and carry valuable spices, tea, Asian artworks, and silk westward to waiting merchants in the Middle East and Europe.

What Is It Like to Be a Kid in Mongolia?

  • If kids grow up in a nomadic family, they will learn how to ride a horse about the same time they learn to walk. Then, at about age five or six, parents give kids the responsibility of helping to care for herd animals, like goats and sheep.
  • Kids like to play several "anklebone" games where they use Shagai, the ankle bones of goats or sheep, like dice, marbles, or game pieces. One of these games is called Horse Race, and another is called Cat's game. Kids also like puzzle games handed down from their ancestors, with puzzle pieces made of wood. Another inherited game is called "Dembee." It is a finger game played to a melody.
  • Kids like to eat "aaruul," dried milk curd, as a snack, and they'll have boortsag (fried dough) for dessert, especially on special occasions.
  • A child's first haircut is celebrated with family and friends and is called "Daah Urgeeh." This occasion occurs between their 2nd and 5th birthdays. Each guest cuts a strand of the child's hair and gives them a blessing and a gift, and everyone enjoys traditional food and drinks.

THYME for a Laugh

What do vegetables like to drink? 

Ginger ale!

Lettuce Joke Around

What is the noisiest spice? 

Ginger Snap!

Lettuce Joke Around

What is the difference between broccoli and boogers?

Not every kid will eat broccoli.

Lettuce Joke Around

When do you put paprika in fried rice? 

On Fry-days!

That's Berry Funny

What does a vegetable wear to the beach? 

A zoo-kini!

That's Berry Funny

What do you get if you cross a sheepdog with a rose? 

A Collie-Flower!

THYME for a Laugh

What did one rice say to the other rice? 

"I hope I see you a-grain!"

That's Berry Funny

What kind of vegetable likes to look at animals? 

A zoo-chini!

Lettuce Joke Around

How did the broccoli feel about being served for dinner?

It was steamed.

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