Fried rice is a wonderful thing.
Why, you ask?
In my entire adult life, I don’t remember ever making the amount of rice actually required for a meal; I ALWAYS overdo it. Always. I blame my Egyptian blood; we eat rice with EVERYTHING and we do NOT do things in moderation. When we make rice, we measure it by the bag…as in “how many bags of rice should I make for lunch today ma?”…”oh, it’s just us four and your uncle dear, so make TWO BAGS, we don’t want to be wasteful”. FYI: 1 bag = 1 Kilogram of rice. Ya.
So the fact that there is a solution for leftover rice that isn’t just ‘reheat and serve mediocre-mushy-fridge-flavoured rice the next day’ is SUCH a win. In fact, fried rice REQUIRES cold leftover rice, and cannot be made with freshly cooked rice!
Ahh, life can be so awesome sometimes.
So what I do now is intentionally make even more rice than I usually make, then proceed to feel very smug that I am not being wasteful or greedy, oh no…I am being smart and planning ahead, like these people who have their shit together and do food prep in advance and have six thousand labelled tupperware containers in their fridge and freezers at any given time. Ugh.
So, about this recipe…I want you guys to consider this recipe more as a guideline or method rather than a set-in-stone recipe. You can switch up the ingredients and customise the dish with whatever you like or whatever you happen to have on hand, which is part of the beauty of fried rice, I think. My personal favourite additions are: eggs, frozen peas, sweet corn, grated carrot and minced chicken. Oh, and chilli and sprouts! Always chilli and sprouts. Other great options would be: prawns, beef, snow peas (as I’ve used here), bok choy, zucchini, mushroom…the sky is the limit. I often leave out the chicken or animal protein completely and just add extra eggs, so if you would like a vegetarian version, do that!
The only thing to remember when changing the ingredients is to add them in the order of cooking time needed; so the things that’ll require more time to cook (like the protein and tougher vegetables) should be added earlier, down to the things that require little or no cooking at all (like the sweet corn and sprouts) being added last or even after the heat is switched off.
The key to a good fried rice is, no surprise, the rice. You could use absolutely any type of rice you want, as long as it is cooked and cooled completely in the fridge beforehand…and when I say completely, I mean rock-hard cold. Here, I’ve used brown rice, which I personally think works best. It holds its shape very well, doesn’t ever get mushy and adds a wonderful nutty flavour to the dish, with the added bonus of being extra healthy and packed with fibre…but again, any leftover rice will do!
If you don’t happen to have leftover rice in the fridge and would like to make fried rice, then plan ahead by cooking up a couple of cups of rice the day before, or at the very least 4-5 hours before dinner time. Cook the rice simply with just water in a rice cooker or on the stove, then once it is cooked, spread it all out onto a large baking sheet or tray lined with baking paper; this helps the rice cool down quicker. As soon as the rice calms down and stops steaming, transfer the tray to the fridge as it is; DO NOT cover it. Let it continue to cool, uncovered, in the fridge so that it is completely cold and dried out a bit, a minimum of 4 hours up to overnight. Once it is completely cold, you can either use it right away or transfer it to an airtight container for up to three days. I learned this method in cooking school, which is the way they prepare rice for stir frying in most restaurants. This ensures that the rice will keep its shape while stir-frying and not become a mushy, soggy mess. Keep it in the fridge until just before using!
As for the sauces to flavour the dish, you could possibly get away with using just soy sauce in a pinch. However, I find that a few other extras are what make it a stand-out fried rice rather than an OK one. In my fridge, I like to keep a bottle each of oyster sauce and sweet chilli sauce for such occasions. The oyster sauce gives an incredible savoury depth of flavour and the sweet chilli breaks up the saltiness perfectly with a touch of sweetness, while both give the rice a nice slight stickiness and sheen. Also, if you like things spicy (high FIVE!), a generous squirt of Sriracha is just HEAVEN. DO IT!!!
I made this fried rice in my brand new SolidTeknics carbon steel wok. Up until now, I’ve always used one of those flimsy, cheap non-stick woks. Even though they did do the job, I’ve always felt rather un-authentic about it, but was always too intimidated to buy one of those proper, heavy, raw woks used in Asian restaurants. Fortunately for me, the wonderful people at SolidTeknics sent me a few of their gorgeous pans and skillets (including this beautiful wok!) to try out, and I am absolutely in LOVE.
This is totally next-level cookware you guys. Made from non-toxic cast iron and steel, their pans are the kind that you know you’ll be handing down to your kids and grandkids someday, and will only get better with age and use! And the best part? Everything is made locally, right here in Australia! How amazing is that? Go check out their beautifully designed range, and if you enjoy cooking as much as I do, I highly recommend investing in a couple of durable pieces that’ll undoubtedly become the workhorses of your kitchen. I wish I had done so sooner!
- • 3 tbsp. coconut or light olive oil, divided
- • 300-400g minced chicken
- • 1 tbsp. grated fresh ginger
- • 2 cloves garlic, minced
- • 2 red chillies, finely chopped or sliced (optional)
- • 2 eggs, beaten
- • 3-4 cups cooked, cold rice (I used brown)*
- • 3-4 tbsp. light soy sauce
- • 2 tbsp. oyster sauce
- • 3 tbsp. sweet chilli sauce
- • 2 tsp. Sriracha hot sauce (optional)
- • 1 large carrot, grated
- • 200g frozen peas or trimmed fresh snow peas
- • 200-300g canned sweetcorn, drained
- • bean sprouts, to serve
- Place a large wok (or your biggest skillet if you don’t have a wok) on high heat. Add 2 tbsp. of the oil and swirl to coat the pan. Once hot, add the chicken and cook, breaking it up with the spoon and stirring frequently until the chicken is cooked through and starting to turn golden brown, about 6-10 minutes. Add the ginger, garlic and chillies (if using) and stir for just 30 seconds till fragrant.
- Push the chicken to one side of the pan. Add the remaining 1 tbsp. of oil to the cleared space in the pan, then pour in the beaten eggs. Stir the eggs quickly till they are cooked and starting to scramble. When they are just beginning to dry up, mix them back into the chicken.
- Add the cold rice and the sauces, mix everything together and stir for about 2 minutes, till the rice is starting to warm through. Add the carrots and peas/snow peas, and stir a further 3-4 minutes, until the peas are warmed through and bright green or the snow peas are crisp-tender and still bright green. Add the corn, stir for just 30 seconds or so to warm through. Have a taste of the rice and adjust the sauces if needed. Switch off the heat, serve immediately, topped with plenty of bean sprouts!
• Feel free to customise the ingredients for the fried rice as you please. Instead of the chicken, you could use: prawns, sliced chicken, beef or even just increase the eggs & omit the animal protein completely for a vegetarian version. For the vegetables, other great options are: bok choy, mushrooms, zucchini, capsicums, broccoli and green beans. Just make sure you add the vegetables early enough for them to cook through but still be crisp and green. If unsure, precook them separately (steam or blanch) and just add them at the end of cooking the rice.