Fried rice is a nice dish to make because it’s versatile, inexpensive, and usually stretches into another meal or two with leftovers. I like to make a big pan of fried rice so I can have it for lunches during the week, or send it with Mr. B for his work lunches.
The first rule of fried rice is that there are no rules. No wait, is that right? Maybe it’s that you don’t talk about fried rice? No, that’s not it either. Oh yeah, now I remember. The first rule of fried rice is that you do not use fresh rice. Heed my warning before it’s too late. Do whatever else you want with your ingredients, but the true secret to good fried rice to make sure you use day old rice. I make mine the night before, spread it out on a baking sheet, and put it in the refigerator until I’m ready to use it, then right before throwing it in the wok, I use my hands to break up the clumps of rice that have formed until I have a uniform, fluffy consistency. But I’m getting ahead of myself.
Here is what you’ll need:
- A wok. Mine is steel and I seasoned it myself in a tedious, smoky session on my stovetop with vegetable oil and a pastry brush. You can probably use a large fry pan too, but I’ve had the best luck with a wok.
- A rice cooker, or pan big enough to accomodate a large amount of rice. I usually go with 4 cups uncooked because I cook for a small army most of the time. If you like rice, though, get a rice cooker. You’ll never look back.
- A wooden or silicone utensil that won’t mess up your beautifully seasoned wok.
- Vegetable or peanut oil for stir frying. Basically any oil that can stand up to the high heats required.
- Cooked rice. Whatever 4 cups of uncooked will get you. Make sure it’s day old, cold rice.
- 1 yellow onion, diced.
- 2-3 cloves garlic, smashed.
- 3-4 carrots, peeled and diced.
- 3-4 eggs, beaten (leave out if trying to make vegetarian or vegan)
- 1 cup frozen peas
- 1/2 cup of soy sauce
- 1/4 cup of chinese rice wine, sherry, dry white wine, or even sake
- A few drops of sesame oil (a little goes a long way)
- 1/2 tsp fish sauce (seriously, it improves everything!) If you don’t have fish sauce, or don’t want to buy a bottle of fish sauce, it won’t hurt the recipe. If you do a lot of Asian cooking, however, get the fish sauce.
- 1/4 cup chicken broth
- 1 bunch of scallions, chopped, for garnish
- Fresh bean sprouts, for garnish
Chop and prep everything in advance before you start cooking. This dish goes very quickly, and if you get hung up on chopping one thing, you might burn another, so get it ready first. Chop veggies, beat eggs, and combine soy sauce, rice wine, sesame oil, fish sauce, and chicken broth in a bowl. Have it ready!
Heat wok on medium high heat until hot and add vegetable oil by drizzling down the side. Swirl to coat the bottom evenly and turn the heat down to medium.
First, before anything else, scramble the eggs in the wok and remove to a plate. Add a little more oil, then add the onions and garlic, stirring constantly so they don’t burn. Cook until they’re soft and fragrant, then throw in the carrots and stir fry until warm and softer. Don’t cook them until they’re mush, make sure they still have a little crunch left in them. Remove onions, garlic, and carrots from wok and set aside. I usually just dump them in a tupperware container temporariliy. Remember too, you can use any vegetables you like in this dish. Carrots and peas are just what I use.
Add a Tablespoon or so of vegetable/peanut oil and swirl again. This time add the rice and start stir frying again. Try not to let it get smashed and burned to the bottom of the wok. I had this happen recently, and it was devastating. Just keep things gentle and easy with your stir frying. When the rice is nearly done, add the vegetables back into the mix.
Add the sauce mixture and stir gently until cooked and warmed through. At the VERY end, dump in the frozen peas and stir them in. Since they’re already cooked, you just need to thaw them.
This dish is versatile in that you can add almost any meat. I usually cook chicken breasts separately, then chop them into cubes and mix the meat into the fried rice. You can also do this with beef, pork, shrimp, turkey, duck, whatever you like! Here is my method for cooking perfect chicken breast if you’re interested.
Serve in shallow bowls and top with fresh, chopped scallions, fresh bean sprouts, soy sauce, and lots (and lots) of sriracha.