I've been holding off on doing a full fried rice story for several years now. I'm not really sure why. Fried rice is a great way to use up leftovers, it is infinitely variable, and there are plenty of variables worth testing out. Couple that with the number of rules that everyone says you simply must follow (you must use day-old rice, you must use medium-grain, et cetera), and it seems like the perfect subject for some hardcore testing and myth-busting. So that's exactly what I did.
This recipe produces fried rice with individual grains, lightly seasoned to allow the flavor of the rice to shine.
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.
- Yield:Serves 2 to 3
- Active time: 10 minutes
- Total time:10 minutes
- 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, 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.