You'll never do takeout again after you read these shortcuts and tips for making this super-satisfying, fast and easy dish at home.
There’s something about the combination of warm rice, cooked egg, a toasty soy-sesame seasoning, and little bits of vegetables (and sometimes meat!) that is at once comforting and utterly delicious. Fried rice is a perennial favorite when it comes to Chinese take-out—but it is also incredibly easy to cook up yourself at home. Here are seven tips to help you make the perfect fried rice at home, no recipe required.
Rinse Your Rice Before Cooking
Giving your rice a quick rinse before cooking it allows the rice to shed some of its starch, which creates cooked grains that aren’t overly clumpy. All the good egg bits and other tasty seasonings will then mingle well with the rice, so you’ll have great flavor that’s evenly distributed throughout the dish. To rinse rice, simply place it in a mesh sieve or a colander with small holes, then run cool tap water over the top for about a minute, stirring with your fingers or a spoon as you go.
Rest Your Rice After Cooking
Once you’re rice is cooked, spread it on a baking sheet, then place the baking sheet on a cooling rack to allow air to circulate around the pan. Let the rice stand for 1 to 2 hours until it is cool. If you want to do this a day or two ahead, let the rice cool completely, then refrigerate it in an airtight container. Resting and cooling your rice allows excess moisture to evaporate, which also helps keep grains from clumping. (Any leftover plain rice you have in the fridge already will also work well in fried rice.)
Once your rice is cooked, the rest of the dish will come together in a hot pan very quickly. Have all of the ingredients you want to add to your fried rice prepped ahead and arranged in small bowls stove-side, so you can cook up the dish in a flash.
Keep It Simple
You don’t need 20 ingredients to cook the perfect fried rice. Make sure you have cooked rice; some aromatics (garlic, ginger, scallions); egg; something vegetal and/or green (carrot; peas; baby spinach; chopped bok choy or brocoli) and, if you like, some raw or cooked protein (tofu, shrimp, chicken, pork, salmon—heck, even leftover brisket works well!).
Use a Large Wok Or a Very Large Skillet
For fried rice, you want to use a pan that seems large, perhaps even extra-large, for the amount of rice and other ingredients you are using. This allows the ingredients in the pan to heat up quickly and evenly without overcooking, and gives you plenty of room to toss everything together without ingredients leaping or falling out of the pan.
Go Hot Or Go Home
Make sure your pan is nice and hot before you add your rice and other ingredients to it. You want everything to cook together quickly, so that the rice gets very hot, but doesn’t overcook.
Season with Soy Sauce, Rice Vinegar, and Sesame Oil
While not every recipe calls for this fried rice trifecta, many do. The recipes that use all three are some of our favorites. Soy sauce is your salt element. Rice vinegar gives the dish a touch of brightness. And sesame oil lends a toasty note that is utterly delicious.
How To Make Fried Rice
- Start by cooking your rice, then letting it rest and cool. 1 cup of dry/uncooked rice will serve four eaters.
- In a very hot skillet with 1 to 2 tablespoons canola or vegetable oil, cook your protein, then remove it from the skillet. (If you're using leftover cooked protein, skip this step and add it later).
- Add a little more oil to the skillet, make sure it’s nice and hot, then add your ginger, garlic and scallions; cook for a minute or two, then add vegetables and cook them until crisp-tender.
- Add soy sauce, rice vinegar, and sesame oil (start with a ratio of 4 Tbsp: 2 Tbsp: 1 Tbsp, but you can modify this to taste), then add your cooked rice and cooked protein.
- Toss until everything is nice and hot, then push the rice to the side of the skillet and add 4 beaten eggs. Stir and work the eggs as they cook into the rice mixture. Serve immediately, topped with extra scallion greens and with Sriracha or chili garlic sauce on the side, if desired.