Fried rice is one of my favorite dishes and a goto the night after ordering Chinese food. I invariably end up having leftover rice, and after a night in the fridge, the rice ends up drying out and is never really great on its own. However, that dried-out, leftover rice makes the perfect platform for fried rice.
I also always have a few vegetables lying around that are easily chopped up and added, and if I want it more substantial, I’ll just throw in a bit of chicken, pork, or beef, or shrimp. Here, I show you a fast and simple fried rice recipe, using ingredients I had laying around, but you really can add just about anything. Hope you enjoy it as much as I do.
Recipe Overview & Keys to Success
To make the best Fried Rice, there are just a few cooking techniques that I want you pay attention too:
- You don’t have use leftover, day old rice, but it does help. Freshly cooked rice tends to get overcooked and mushy when cooked again. If you don’t have any leftover, cook your rice, and the spread it out in a thin layer to cool, and dry out for a couple hours before cooking…that will do just fine.
- You can use just about any vegetables you like…I really like to have a few different colors in there, so green vegetables, carrots, and red bell pepper are very cool. But most important is making sure to not overcook them. The rice is soft, so the crunch in this dish needs to come from the veggies…you want them just barely cooked through, still with some firmness.
- I find a little soy sauce goes a long way with fried rice, and too much can really over-power the dish. It’s also really easy to add more at the end of the cooking process after you’ve tasted, so I suggest going light to start off
- For this dish, cut the carrot and onion pretty finely and consistently. Either very large, or very mismatched pieces just wouldn’t look nice, but more importantly they won’t come close to cooking evenly. Try to get each piece of onion, carrot, celery…whatever you use (except the garlic which should be minced), the size as a single pea
RECIPE FOR FRIED RICE
Ingredients for Fried Rice (for 4)
- 2 cups cooked (leftover from the day before or allowed to dry for a couple hours) rice
- 1 carrot finely diced
- 1/2 of an onion finely diced
- 2 cloves garlic finely chopped
- 1/2 cup frozen peas
- 1/4 cup of chopped scallion
- 1 egg, beaten
- 1/4 cup of diced ham (I use deli ham)
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce
- 2 teaspoons sesame oil
Fried Rice Recipe
- If using freshly cooked rice, cook it, and then spread it out in a thin layer on a cutting board or platter to dry for two hours
- Dice all the vegetables
- Heat a large sauté pan (I like using a non-stick pan for this recipe) over high heat, and add enough vegetable oil to lightly coat the bottom
- Add the carrots and onions, season with salt and pepper and cook for about 2 minutes tossing a several times to cook evenly
- Add the peas, garlic, and the ham and toss again, cooking for another minute
- Now add the rice, and if needed a bit more vegetable oil.
- I like to use a fork (chop sticks also would work well) to toss and break up the rice in the pan, separating any clumps into individual grains – which you don’t need to get every single piece fully separately, but they should be largely independent. Be careful about using a wooden spoon, or other large utensil, as that can mash up the rice and make it mushy
- Add about two thirds of the soy sauce, along with some salt and pepper and continue to toss until it is well distributed
- Now add the beaten egg, and again toss to combine with all the rice. The egg should coat the rice as you toss together quickly, as opposed to having pieces of individual scrambled egg…to do that just move quickly to stir everything together, rather than letting the egg sit and cook
- Turn the heat off, and add the scallions, and the sesame oil, toss one more time to incorporate, and give it a taste
- Adjust the amount of salt and pepper, and add more soy sauce if needed; I may also add a touch of honey/sugar, if I find it could use a bit of sweetness
This dish makes a great side dish…we had my mom’s version with spring rolls growing up, or even a light main dish. Add some chicken, shrimp, or just about any meat for a more substantial meal.
I really like a beer with fried rice, but I think Sake would work great as well. Unfortunately, I’m no expert in sake.