Recipe: Chinese-Style Fried Rice (炒饭)

I love fried rice(炒饭 – chao fan – say: “chall fun” – literally “stir-fry rice”)! My favorite fried rice is the fried rice from Cantonese restaurants because it is always so deliciously full of wok hay (Cantonese term that describes the quality of food fresh from a wok that was stir-fried over extremely high heat). There is always the delicious sauce and it reacts with the extremely high heat of the wok to create an amazing fried rice. I love most kinds of Cantonese fried rice including Yangzhou fried rice (which is not actually found in Yangzhou)(扬州炒饭 yang zhou chao fan – “yahng joh chall fun”, literally Yang State stir-fry rice), Chinese (actually Cantonese) sausage fried rice(腊肠炒饭 la chang chao fan, “lah chahng chall fun”), Cantonese BBQ Pork (char siu) fried rice(叉烧炒饭 cha shao chao fan, “chah sholl chall fun”, literally fork roast stir-fry rice), etc. I don’t like salted fish fried rice (咸鱼炒饭 xian yu chao fan, “syehn yee chall fun”, literally salt fish stir-fry rice)because it smells quite unpleasant, but my parents really like it. My favorite fried rice ever in the world was XO Sauce Beef Fried Rice (XO Sauce is a condiment made from frying dried shrimps, dried scallops, garlic, chilies, and other fragrant ingredients in oil for a long time until caramelized and golden) at a local restaurant, but sadly it closed :(.

Anyways, Cantonese people eat fried rice in banquets as the final course before fruit and dessert (the actual final “course”). Actually my parents said it was the actual final course, so maybe fruit/dessert is a new edition. In Sichuan, I visited last summer, and watermelon was always the last course. I don’t think they served fruits when my parents were growing up in China. (Sichuan has very few desserts and most sweets are snacks eaten between meals in small amounts with tea.) Anyways, the point is that Cantonese people in Guangdong (maybe they do in overseas though) do not eat fried rice with their meal as a main dish like me. However since it tastes so amazing (and I never have banquets!) I always eat it as a main dish, like most of us overseas Chinese. Usually I eat it for lunch.

At home, nobody can get as much wok hay as in a restaurant unless they have a restaurant stove (duh), but anyone can still make a really really delicious fried rice. You need a cast iron pan or a wok to get started! Preferably it should be well seasoned, or the egg and rice stick. A lot. And it becomes terribly hard to make. Stainless steel pan is also okay but harder to become nonstick. Nonstick pan is also okay but toxic to your body. So I prefer cast iron!

You also need ingredients. First is rice. Cook white rice is best, but brown rice is okay too if you prefer it. I use calrose rice, but jasmine, long grain, etc. rices are good too. I always use leftover rice to make fried rice. Second are other ingredients. I love bacon in fried rice! Traditionally, Cantonese sausage or Cantonese bacon can be used (really different from American bacon), but I like American bacon in my homemade fried rice. No meat is also very delicious. This recipe is very easy to make vegetarian. Eggs are very good in fried rice to add protein, but they can also be skipped for a vegan version. For vegetables, I like frozen sweet corn because it is great with fried rice. Frozen peas are also great, and also peas and carrots, or just carrots, or peas and carrots and corn, or any small dices of vegetables you like. It is most tasty but optional to include green onion, ginger, garlic, and crushed red pepper flakes. Basically, this recipe can be modified A LOT. Just use what you like the most in your fried rice and skip what you don’t like or don’t have. If you have a question about how you would like to modify the recipe, please comment below and I will answer. 🙂 I think fried rice is the most flexible recipe in the world. Let’s get to the recipe!

Serves 2 (or 1 really really big serving if you can eat and you are very hungry!)

Ingredients:
about 3 cups room temperature (or cold) leftover cooked rice (white rice is traditional, but if you like brown rice, it is good too.)
1 pinch crushed red pepper flakes
2 tsp minced ginger
2 tsp minced garlic
3 green onions, finely chopped, separate white part [stems] and green part [leaves]
1 cup dice-size vegetables (frozen corn, green peas, and/or diced carrots in any combination)
2 eggs + pinch of salt and pinch of pepper (white pepper is traditional)
3 slices bacon, sliced into thin strips (skip for vegetarian version)
some oil for frying eggs
1 tsp XO Sauce (optional)
some salt and pepper (not too much because the sauce is salty, optional)

Sauce: make sure you stir well before cooking!
1 scant tbsp soy sauce
1 scant tbsp Shaoxing wine or Chinese white rice wine such as Kiu Kiang
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp sesame oil
1/2 scant tbsp oyster sauce (use vegetarian oyster sauce for vegetarian version)
some more salt and pepper to taste (optional)

Directions:
1. Heat a cast iron pan or wok. Add bacon and fry until oil has come out and the bacon is crispy to your taste. Remove bacon and leave oil in pan.
TIP: Get everything ready now, before stir-frying, including the sauce!
2. If there is not 2 tbsp bacon fat in the pan, add oil to add to 2 tbsp. (If you are making vegetarian version, just add 2 tbsp oil to the pan.)
3. When hot, add pepper flakes, garlic, ginger, and white part of green onion.
4. Add vegetables and stir-fry for 1 minute.
5. Put everything to one side and add some oil (depends on how healthy you want to be, I use around 1 tbsp), then the seasoned eggs. Scramble eggs until cooked (don’t mix with the vegetables yet until cooked). Mix everything together.
6. Add rice with a little salt and pepper. I like seasoning the rice this way, but it is optional. Stir-fry for a few minutes until combined well and rice is drier than your liking (once you add sauce, it becomes good).
7. Add sauce, green part of green onion, and fried bacon. Stir-fry until evenly distributed. Avoid stir-frying too long, or else the sauce may stick to the bottom of the pan.
8. Serve the fried rice in bowls (or plates if you prefer)! Enjoy!

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