Fried rice was one of the first things they taught us how to cook in Home Economics back in secondary school. It was part of the "one-dish meal" section of the curriculum along with fried bee hoon (rice vermicelli). Fried rice is, essentially, a meal made of leftovers. Vegetables and meats are cut up and combined with the rice from yesterday. Growing up, my grandmother always had some medley of frozen vegetables (the kind with peas, carrots, corn) in the freezer for occasions like this and since living on my own, I've done the same because you never know when those frozen vegetables will come in handy.
Anyway, this is a super easy recipe, and bear in mind I eyeball things when I cook fried rice. As long as you're making enough for everybody you're feeding, you're good. I also like using leftover holiday ham because it's got so much flavor to it already that you won't need to add much salt to your fried rice.
A couple of things to note:
Don't use soy sauce. The trick to good fried rice like you'd get at a real Chinese restaurant is to not use soy sauce. I do use it in the recipe but I beat it into the eggs, I don't use any on the rice itself. Salt (sometimes we chat and use a teensy bit of MSG) and white pepper is enough because you don't want your fried rice soggy/mushy or brown. When you're done cooking it, it should have taken on some of the egg's yellow but it's mostly a golden but still white hew.
It's best to use leftover rice that's been in the fridge. Freshly cooked rice could work, just use a little less water than you normally would to make it but it'll more than likely stick together and get mushy.
What I use
- Leftover ham cut into 1" cubes about a cup and a half.
- Leftover rice about 3 cups cooked.
- Half a small onion cut into 1/2" dices.
- 2 cups of the frozen vegetable medley or a mixture of green peas, corn and carrots or whatever crunchy veggie you want to use, really.
- Garlic (use as much as you want but at least one clove).
- Four eggs (I separated two of them and used just the whites).
- Three tablespoons of peanut oil or any oil that won't burn in high heat.
- Kosher salt to taste.
- White pepper to taste.
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce for the eggs.
- Whip up the soy sauce and eggs like you're mixing it for an omelet, set aside. I also like to cook the eggs separately in another pan so get that pan out and set it on the stove with about a tablespoon or so of oil.
- Fry up the ham first to crisp them a little and render out the oil. Remove from pan into a bowl, set aside.
- Add oil to the pan that has the ham oil and let it heat up a bit. Medium - high heat.
- Add garlic, stir around till nice and fragrant then add onion, veggies. Toss and cook for about a minute.
- Add rice.
- Heat up the oil in the other pan for the eggs the entire time paying attention to your rice and never letting it sit for too long.
- Add salt/pepper to rice and always remember to taste.
- Add the ham back into the rice. Stir, stir, stir.
- Fry up the eggs. Don't forget to keep stirring the rice.
- When the eggs start to cook but are still sort of wet, add it to the rice. Fry and mix everything up evenly. Imagine you're trying to coat every single granule of rice with the flavors of the veggies, ham and eggs - let all your ingredients mingle and get cozy.
- Taste, add salt/pepper (and any other spices like chili powder if you want it spicy) and once everything looks like it's been evenly cooked remove from heat and serve up.
- Garnish with cilantro/coriander, green onions or some crispy onions or shallots.