Food 101: How To Make Basic Fried Rice
Let’s talk fried rice.
If you’ve had Chinese food before, you’ve had fried rice. Hell, if you’ve eaten at any Asian restaurants you’ve probably had it. Each culture seems to have its own little version of it. And for good reason too; fried rice is one of the easiest and fastest ways to convert old rice and leftovers into a tasty, nutritious meal.
Let’s get this clear from the get-go: there is no clear-cut way to prepare fried rice. You can make it out of virtually anything, as long as you include rice as the base. While there’s a million different ways to make it, and numerous specific varieties/methods to actually cook it, the most common is known as Yangzhou. Yangzhou is the classic, Chinese-restaurant version of fried rice we all know and love, consisting of rice, vegetables, egg, meat, and a little bit of soy sauce. What you put into it is entirely up to you and what leftovers you have lying around. Or maybe you don’t want to use leftovers. Maybe you want to make it fresh. That’s cool too! Both work, and fried rice is an awesome starter dish that pretty much anyone can make at home.
The basic routine for fried rice is the same everytime, but feel free to mix up the ingredients, since as I said you can easily use up all your leftovers in a fried rice dish. The only parts that may be tricky is the space-management game you have to play with your food while it cooks. Most restaurants have either gigantic griddles or huge skillets with cool/hot spots to move food on and off of. At home, you can easily simulate this by moving your food to different parts of your pan and moving the pan itself around your burner so only the heat touches one side of it. It sounds complicated, but it’s pretty easy when you actually do it. Pretty much, all you need for cooking it is a large frying pan, and a cooking spatula/spoon/cooking chopsticks/etc. to actually stir-fry the food.
Basic Fried Rice Recipe
- Any amount of rice, but preferably at least 1 cup per person minimum (leftover rice works best)
- Any quantity of meat, or tofu if you prefer to prepare it vegetarian, chopped into small pieces
- 1-2 tbsp cooking oil (sesame works best! vegetable oil works great too.)
- Some member of the allium family, such as scallions, onions, chives, garlic, shallots, etc… chopped
- Any additional veggies you wish to use, such as carrots, peas, peppers, etc… once again, chopped
- 1 egg, per person
- Approximately 1 tsp of rice vinegar,for every cup of rice you used
- Approximately 1 tbsp of soy sauce for every cup of rice you used
- To begin, chop any vegetables or meats that you haven’t already. Begin heating your oil in a large frying pan or skillet.
- When the oil is hot and spread around the pan, dump all the meat into the pan, and push it off to one side. Dump your rice into the other half and push it off to the side.
- Move your pan over so that the flame/heat is underneath only the meat-side of the skillet. Begin stir-frying the meat on a medium flame. Let it warm up mostly, but don’t let it brown too much or it may end up dried out.
- Once your meat is finished, push it off to a corner right next to the rice, and leave your pan so that only half of it is over the heat. Add in your veggies and begin stir-frying them until they’re thoroughly cooked, about 5 minutes.
- After the vegetables are finished cooking, push them alongside the meat, and readjust your pan so that the heat is still only under the empty part of your skillet. Lower the heat to low.
- When you have your pan organized, either add a little bit of extra oil or non-stick spray, and add in your egg. Immediately begin scrambling it in the pan. As it cooks, chop it up with your utensil until it’s mostly cooked and falls into small pieces.
- When the egg is done, push it off to the side like you did with other foods. Spread the rice out so it covers an entire half of the pan, and move your pan on the burner so that only the rice half is being heated. Turn your burner up to medium.
- Add the rice vinegar over the rice, and stir it up until the rice looks wet and shimmering. Let the rice cook like this for 3-5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the rice starts to get browned in places.
- And now, the most fulfilling part of making fried rice: use your utensil to stir eeeeeverything together. Stir it up and until it’s thoroughly mixed.
- Add in your soy sauce evenly around the rice, and begin stir-frying the rice until the soy sauce evenly coats everything in the pan. Cook it like this for 2-3 minutes on medium-high heat, until the rice actually starts cooking on the bottom. Stir the rice after, and repeat. This is where you actually “fry” the rice.
- Once the rice is thoroughly cooked and browned, its all done. Pour it out into bowls and it’ll be ready for eating!
For a more in-depth look, check our video on our official Youtube channel!
That’s all there is to it. It takes maybe 10-15 minutes tops, and depending on how much you make, you can potentially turn this into an entire meal for multiple people. The word “fry” carries some negative connotations, but honestly fried rice is pretty great for you when you prepare it at home. It’s a really easy way to get a bunch of veggies and meats into your food in one go, and studies have shown that frying rice actually makes it less starchy and thus better for you. (tl;dr version of article: frying rice at high heats in oil converts digestible starch, which breaks down into sugar in your body, into indigestible starch, which does not break down into sugar). It’s delicious, healthy, easy, and takes about the same time to make as it does to watch an episode of Adventure Time.
Start making fried rice. You’ll thank me later.