Easy Fried Rice is the best restaurant style fried rice you’ll ever make! Just 15 minutes and a great way to clean out the vegetable drawer.
Easy Fried Rice is an essential recipe for any home cook. Although it is very simple in theory, many folks have trouble getting the restaurant style rice they crave. There are a few tricks to getting the perfect fried rice every time and I am going to share them with you.
The first, and what I think is the most critical to getting perfect fried rice: COLD RICE! Many say it needs to be day-old rice, but I find that making it the same day and chilling it works just the same. If you have leftover rice, you can use that. A medium-grain rice tends to work best. I prefer to use Jasmine rice (sticky rice), but this batch was actually made with instant white rice and turned out just as delightful. I paired it with my Honey Ginger Short Ribs– so tasty!
So why cold rice? J. Kenji from The Food Lab sums it up best, “First, there’s evaporation: the rice gets dryer. Second, we’ve got starch retrogradation: gelatinized starches that have swollen up and softened during cooking will recrystallize as they cool, turning the rice firm and less sticky.” These rice grains will be their own, perfect little pellet and not turn to mush. The dehydration will allow some of the other flavors to absorb.
So what is my trick if I am making fried rice the same day? I cook the rice according to the package and then I spread it out in a thin layer on a large rimmed baking sheet. I place this is the refrigerator, or even sometimes the freezer, to speed the process up. Give yourself at least an hour to get a good chill. It still requires some thinking ahead, but not nearly as much as a day!
Next is the soy sauce. Not all soy sauce is created equal. This became really apparent to me after a recent trip to Japan when none of the soy sauces were recognizable. They were less salty and thick, nearly syrupy. But the flavor, oh my goodness! While I still love traditional American soy sauces (reduced sodium, of course) for marinades and general uses, my new favorite is Mushroom Flavored Dark Soy Sauce. Flavorful, it is perfect for adding acid to soups, sauces, salad dressing and of course, Easy Fried Rice! Whichever soy sauce you use, make sure to taste it first and adjust the amount based on saltiness and flavor. Start small knowing you can always add more, but you can never take away.
Easy Fried Rice is not only a great recipe for using up leftover rice, but also to use up odds and ends of vegetables. One veggie I always use in my fried rice recipe is onion, but the type depends on what I have on hand and it commonly a mixture of several, adding even more sophisticated flavor. Red, leek, scallion, shallots, white, yellow, chives, they will all work!
Similarly, use whatever other vegetables you have on hand. Bell peppers, carrots, peas, green beans, broccoli, zucchini, corn, really just about anything! If you are using diced and raw, add it with the onions and saute to soften. I also use frozen vegetables, because I always have those in my freezer. A six ounce bag of mixed veggies does the trick for me!
Many claim you need a wok to distribute the heat evenly. Nope, you don’t. In fact, depending on what type of stove you have, using a wok could prevent the heat from distributing! I actually prefer my handy cast iron skillet.
And lastly, if you want to add a protein to make Easy Fried Rice into your entree, be my guest! Cook it ahead of time and add it at the very end. Seafood, especially shrimp, beef, pork and chicken seem to be the most popular types of fried rice. If you want the resturant style red pork, look for Chinese Sausage in the meat case.
Tools for making perfect Easy Fried Rice:
- Mushroom Soy Sauce – You’ll love this stuff, I promise!
- Cast Iron Skillet – a workhorse in the kitchen, you won’t believe how much you use it for!
- Silicon Handle for Cast Iron – One thing you’ll have to get used to is that the handle gets hot. A slip on silicone cover will prevent painful burns.
- Rimmed Baking Sheet – Really, every kitchen should have one (or three!), but here you’ll use yours for cooling the rice.
If you loved my Easy Fried Rice, you’ll also love these easy Asian Recipes!
- Ginger Shrimp Lettuce Wraps
- BBQ Asian Sirloin
- Honey Ginger Short Ribs
- Yakatori Chicken
- Sticky Chicken Salad
- Authentic Chinese Dumplings
- Crab and Avocado Rangoons