Why It Works
- Starting with freshly cooked or well-chilled rice guarantees it won't clump up as you stir-fry it.
- Frying in batches compensates for the low heat output of Western stovetops.
- Keeping the seasoning very light allows the flavor of the rice and aromatics to come through.
We tested every variable to bust some common fried-rice myths and found that it's a much more forgiving dish than people tend to think. Fried rice is a great way to use up leftovers, but there's no reason you can't use a batch of freshly cooked white rice instead. This recipe produces vegetable-studded fried rice with individual grains, lightly seasoned to allow the flavor of the rice to shine.
- 2 cups cooked white rice (12 ounces; 350g; see note)
- 2 tablespoons (30ml) vegetable or canola oil, divided
- 1 small onion, finely chopped (4 ounces; 115g)
- 1 medium carrot, peeled and cut into small dice (3 ounces; 85g)
- 2 scallions, thinly sliced (1 ounce; 30g)
- 2 medium cloves garlic, minced (about 2 teaspoons; 5g)
- 1 teaspoon (5ml) soy sauce
- 1 teaspoon (5ml) toasted sesame oil
- Kosher salt and ground white pepper
- 1 large egg
- 4 ounces (115g) frozen peas
If using day-old rice (see note), transfer to a medium bowl and break the rice up with your hands into individual grains before proceeding. Heat 1/2 tablespoon (7ml) vegetable oil in a wok over high heat until smoking. Add half of rice and cook, stirring and tossing, until the rice is pale brown and toasted and has a lightly chewy texture, about 3 minutes. Transfer to a medium bowl. Repeat with another 1/2 tablespoon oil and remaining rice.
Return all the rice to the wok and press it up the sides, leaving a space in the middle. Add 1/2 tablespoon (7ml) oil to the space. Add onion, carrot, scallions, and garlic and cook, stirring gently, until lightly softened and fragrant, about 1 minute. Toss with rice to combine. Add soy sauce and sesame oil and toss to coat. Season to taste with salt and white pepper.
Push rice to the side of the wok and add remaining 1/2 tablespoon (7ml) oil. Break the egg into the oil and season with a little salt. Use a spatula to scramble the egg, breaking it up into small bits. Toss the egg and the rice together.
Add frozen peas and continue to toss and stir until peas are thawed and every grain of rice is separate. Serve immediately.
For the best results, use Chinese-style medium-grain rice, jasmine rice, or sushi rice. Rice should either be cooked fresh, spread on a tray, and allowed to cool for five minutes, or, alternatively, transferred to a loosely covered container and refrigerated for at least 12 hours and up to 3 days.