Fried rice is a handy recipe to have in your cooking repertoire. You can use up leftover rice, meat, and vegetables, making this an economical choice that the whole family will enjoy. You can also change the recipe and create dozens of variations, using family favorites or whatever you happen to have on hand. Serve fried rice as a main course or a side dish, depending on how hearty you make it.
Basic Fried Rice Recipe
The most basic recipe for fried rice uses few ingredients, but mastering the simple technique can lead to plenty of additions in future batches.
- 2 large eggs
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 3 tablespoons cooking oil, such as vegetable or canola
- 4 cups cooked rice
- 2 green onions or 1 stalk celery, finely chopped
- 1-2 tablespoons soy sauce
- Extra chopped green onion for garnish, optional
- Heat 1 tablespoon cooking oil in a wok or large frying pan.
- While the pan is heating, whisk the eggs together in a small bowl and season lightly with salt and pepper.
- Pour the egg mixture into the hot oil. Cook the eggs, stirring frequently, until just cooked through but still wet in appearance. Transfer the eggs to a plate and return the pan to the stove.
- Add the remaining 2 tablespoons oil to the pan. When heated, add the rice and onions or celery, and cook. Stir constantly until heated through.
- Add the soy sauce to the rice mixture and stir to combine.
- Add the eggs to the rice and stir again, breaking up any chunks of egg into small pieces.
- Transfer to a serving bowl and garnish with extra green onions if desired.
If you like, instead of adding all of the soy sauce while cooking the rice, you can add one tablespoon and offer extra at the table. Since soy sauce has a strong flavor, this way everyone can opt for a little or a lot.
Fried Rice Variations
It's easy to kick up your basic fried rice recipe with the addition of meat, vegetables, and more. Add a single extra ingredient or choose a combination that suits your palate. It can be fun to experiment with different flavors.
Meat and Seafood
Chop your choice of cooked meat into small pieces and add to the pan when you add the rice. If you're planning to make fried rice with added meat, use three eggs instead of two and increase the amount of cooking oil and soy sauce to taste. Try one of the following options, or combine two or more choices for a truly unique dish.
Add as many veggies as you like to your fried rice. Vegetables add color and texture, as well as nutrition. You can use fresh or frozen vegetables, but if using frozen, allow the veggies to thaw before using them so the excess water doesn't affect the texture of the finished rice. Vegetables should be diced and added to the pan with the rice, making sure that they're in the pan long enough to be heated completely through. Try some of the following:
- Bell peppers
- Water chestnuts
- Bean sprouts
In addition to meat and vegetables, you can enhance the flavor of fried rice with numerous other ingredients. Not all of these are traditional to Chinese cooking, but they can be tasty and unique.
- Sesame oil: Add a bit of sesame oil to the cooking oil for a different flavor.
- Oyster sauce: Oyster sauce is a staple in many Asian dishes and combines well with soy sauce once the rice is heated through.
- Fruit: Fresh, canned, or dried fruit, chopped into small pieces gives fried rice a completely different character. Try peaches, pineapple, or apples, and add them to the pan when you add the rice.
- Minced garlic: Though not a traditional ingredient, minced fresh garlic gives fried rice some extra bite. Add it to the second batch of cooking oil and stir-fry for a minute before adding the rice.
- Hot sauce: Whether you use a basic hot pepper sauce such as Tabasco or an Asian chili sauce, you can easily kick up your rice with a few drops stirred in just before serving.
A Versatile and Easy Dish
Learning how to make fried rice will open the door to numerous menu possibilities. Whether you're using up leftovers or planning a specific combination of ingredients, it's a simple dish that doesn't take long to prepare.