By CJ Juntereal
Everyone loves fried rice. What’s not to like? It’s super tasty, and it’s protein, carbohydrates, and vegetables in a single bowl that you can eat with one hand when you’re super tired. And honestly, what’s a Chinese food meal without yang chow fried ice? At home, fried rice is my go-to dish when I’m too tired to cook a full meal or when I have bits and pieces of leftovers, especially after New Year’s Eve when I look for something light and easy to eat.
These are my tips for home made fried rice that quite possibly could be just as good as or better than restaurant fried rice.
Prep your ingredients
Fried rice is cooked using high heat, so make sure all your ingredients are ready before you start cooking. Try to make everything is the same size so that they cook evenly. And make sure everything is within easy reach of your stove.
Heat your pan properly
This is key to making sure the rice doesn’t stick to the pan. You’d be surprised at how rice can stick to even a non-stick pan! A video on Chinese wok-frying methods taught me the best way to ensure a non-stick surface for your pan, even if your pan is not coated with a non-stick surface. First, heat a dry pan on high heat until it is smoking. Take the pan off the flame, pour in your cooking oil, and swirl it around the bottom and up the sides of the pan until the oil coats the pan with a thin film. Place it back on the flame and when the oil starts to smoke, start frying!
Don’t be stingy with the oil
It’s fried rice! Be generous. Use enough of a neutral oil to make sure that your pan is well coated, and each grain of rice is enveloped in a little blanket of oil. The oil helps the rice stay moist, and gives some of the meats that nice crisp outer layer.
Use cold, day-old rice
This is the key to fried rice. Using newly steamed rice makes everything sticking and mushy, and the rice will stick to the pan.
Ingredients that take longer to cook go into the pan first
Start with the meats, then carrots or other root vegetables, onions and garlic, then the rice. Frying the meats and vegetables first helps to build flavor, and ensures that everything is cooked through. Quick cooking leafy vegetables like spinach or lettuce can be thrown in last.
Choose your flavor combinations
If you’re using leftover chorizo don’t throw in your leftover Chinese sausage or salt and pepper spareribs.Let your chorizo shine and use some leftover roast turkey or beef instead. Broccoli, cauliflower, and carrots work well with almost anything. Cilantro does well with Asian ingredients, parsley works with beef and chicken. If you have leftover roast duck, use a little hoisin sauce as well. Flavor your rice with soy sauce, oyster sauce, paprika, sambal, chili-garlic sauce, kimchi— the possibilities are as endless as your imagination.
Don’t forget the eggs
The eggs add moisture and color.If I’m doing Japanese-style fried rice, I pour beaten eggs on top of the rice and mix immediately, letting the heat of the rice cook the eggs. The result is moister rice. If I’m doing something Chinese-style, I move all the fried rice to the edges of the pan and make a hole in the middle. Then I drizzle in a bit more oil, wait until it is hot, pour in the beaten egg, and stir occasionally until the eggs are softly scrambled. I then mix the eggs evenly into the rice.
Careful with the soy sauce
If you add too much, your fried rice will become impossibly salty. One or two tablespoons are enough for four cups of rice. Use the best quality Japanese or Chinese light soy sauce that you can afford. You don’t need always need to add soy sauce. Chorizo fried rice is better with a little paprika instead, and steak fried rice is good with a little Worcestershire sauce.
Add a pinch of sugar when you add your salt
I’m not kidding. That salt and sugar combination gives you a mouthful of umami flavor and adds depth to your fried rice. Use a large wok or frying pan that allows you the mix the rice well without spilling things out.
Easy Fried Rice
• 4 cups cold, previously cooked rice
• 2 eggs, well beaten
• ¼ cup finely chopped green onion
• ½ cup diced carrot
• 1 small onion, finely chopped
• 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
• ½ – 1 cup cubed Chinese sausage or
ham or chicken or beef
• ½ – 1 cup green peas
• 1-2 tablespoons soy sauce or in combination
with oyster sauce or sweet soy
• 3-4 tablespoons cooking oil or neutral oil
• Salt and pepper to taste
1. Gently break up the rice so that it isn’t in one big clump, and make sure all your ingredients are prepped and within easy reach.
2. Heat your dry wok over high heat. When it starts to smoke, remove from flame, swirl in the oil, set it back on the flame and heat till oil smokes.
3. Add the meat and quickly stir fry for about a minute. Add the carrots and stir fry. Add the onions and garlic and stir fry again for one minute.
4. When the onions are fragrant, add the green peas and stir fry a few seconds.
5. Add the rice and quickly mix with the ingredients using a lift and turn over motion, until the rice is evenly coated with oil. Add the soy sauce and mix until evenly distributed.
6. When the rice is hot, push to the sides of the pan leaving a hole in the middle. Add a bit more oil and pour in the beaten eggs. Let them set, then continue to cook, stirring frequently until the scrambled eggs are just set. Mix into the rice.
7. Adjust to taste with salt, pepper, and a pinch of sugar. Add the green onions and toss until just combined.
8. Remove from heat and serve immediately.
The original article was first published in Manila Bulletin Lifestyle.