Fried rice is a wonderful, economical dish that can be made with pantry staples and what ever is on hand. It’s always been YaYu’s job when she’s with us to make fried rice. She’s been fixing it since she was 10 years old, and her version has always been restaurant quality. I’m not sure how she does it either because she never makes it the same way twice, but when I asked her she said she just goes with what she feels like when it comes to additions and seasonings.
There are some non-negotiable items though:
Cold rice: The best fried rice is made with leftover, cold rice as warm, freshly-made rice will only create a sticky mess. We use Japanese sushi rice, but long-grain white rice is good as well, and of course brown rice can be used as well if preferred. For four servings I make four cups of cooked rice (two cups uncooked).
Eggs: For YaYu, this is the best part of any fried rice. Her rule of thumb for how many to use is one egg per person, and one extra if you expect to have leftovers.Onions: Green onions are best in YaYu’s opinion. While other additions are great, with eggs and green onions you can make a great pan of simple, delicious fried rice.
Oyster sauce, soy sauce, and black pepper are the other mandatory ingredients. There are lots of other seasonings that can be added, like ginger and/or minced garlic or red chili flakes.
Fried rice is a great way to use up leftovers or odds and ends. Chicken, pork, beef, shrimp or other seafood can be used, as can many different vegetables. Everything should be chopped, diced, or sliced into small pieces.
Assembling and chopping the ingredients and setting up the mise en place is my job when YaYu is cooking, but she makes the magic happen. Our additions to fried rice are pretty traditional, and this last time we used leftover smoked ham, diced green pepper, julienned carrot, diced yellow onion, diced green onions, and beaten eggs to our fried rice.
Once all the ingredients were ready, YaYu got to work:
- First she heated oil in a big pan. The oil and pan need to be hot! YaYu uses approximately three tablespoons of oil.
- Then she added ham to the pan and sautéd until lightly browned.
- When it was ready, she pushed the ham to the side of the pan and created an egg sheet on the other side, then set it aside.
- Next, she added vegetables to the pan and sautéd them until crisp-tender.
- Then came the cold rice. Most of the lumps were “crumbled” by hand as the rice went into the pan, and other large lumps were broken up as the rice and other ingredients were mixed together and fried. The egg sheet was added back in at this time, and chopped into small pieces as the rice was fried.
- Finally, when everything was evenly mixed together and hot, she added her seasonings. For the rice pictured at the top of the page, all YaYu added was one tablespoon of soy sauce, one tablespoon of oyster sauce, and black pepper. I like to add garlic and fresh ginger when I’m sautéing the vegetables, but YaYu doesn’t as she feels it’s not authentic.
Always serve hot rice immediately! In Japan, fried rice (chahan) is served with a soup spoon so that’s how Brett and I do it too; YaYu likes to use chopsticks. Leftovers are always appreciated here as well – they make a great breakfast and never last long at our house.