The humble fried rice – a versatile dish that you can eat as a meal on its own or you can use it as an accompaniment with other dishes. Yet there is no standard way of cooking fried rice. When you order the dish from a restaurant, you will get as many variations as there are Chinese restaurants. After all, fried rice is simply cooked rice that is fried!
The basic ingredient in fried rice is obviously the rice itself. Add eggs, vegetables and meat and you basically have your own version of fried rice. What makes it different in taste is the sauce you add to flavour the dish. Some people do not use any sauce to flavour the dish, believing that the flavour should come from frying the ingredients themselves – ie. from frying the egg, meat and vegetables.
Rice, rice and rice ... which one?
We all know that the most important ingredient is the rice. But when you go to the shops, you will see short grain, medium grain, long grain, jasmine, basmati rice. Which one do you use? The general rule of thumb is that the longer the grain, the more water you will need to make the rice soft and fluffy. The shorter the grain, the less water you need, otherwise the rice will turn out gluggy.
Short grain tends to make the rice look like small, round, fluffy balls. I use either medium grain or long grain because I like my rice to look like rice. As for using Jasmine rice, I prefer to eat Jasmine rice on its own to appreciate its aroma. I don’t use basmati rice to make my fried rice because I find this type of rice too grainy.
What meat can I use?
Most restaurants will give you shredded chicken because it’s cheaper. But you can really use any type of meat – bacon, roast pork, seafood, etc. I use spam because it comes in a tin and I can stock up in the pantry. Sometimes I will mix some shredded chicken with spam if I have leftover chicken.
Is it just peas and corn?
Any vegetables go well with fried rice. The most popular is a vegetable mix with corn and peas. I buy the frozen vegetables from my local supermarket, so whatever is in the bag of frozen vegetables is what goes into my fried rice – carrots, peas and corn. Sometimes I’ll add some cauliflower.
Sauce ... in fried rice?
Many places do not use any sauce at all. I like to add the sauce myself because it means I can consistently produce the same great taste, regardless of the vegetables or meat that I use. It also colours the rice, which makes it more interesting and distinguishable from steamed rice (this makes it easier to locate in the freezer). I use only soy sauce but you can also use oyster sauce as an alternative, though keep in mind this will change the flavour of the dish. Just before serving the fried rice, I will also stir through 1-2 teaspoons of sesame oil to give it a more aromatic taste.
Remember, there is no right or wrong way to making this versatile dish. It's just cooked rice fried with other ingredients! Create your own interesting combinations.
Below is the recipe to my own creation. Bon appetite!
Get the pdf copy of the recipe here.