I have been trying to figure out how to make homemade fried rice for years. It seemed like an impossible task. I could never get the consistency right, or the flavor. I tried adding in different seasonings while removing other ones. I even tried different rices to no avail!
I finally realized that I would need to reach out to a friend in order to learn the secrets of fried rice. My friend, May, gladly invited me over and showed me her method. May is from Burma and makes many delicious fried dishes.
Common Mistakes to Avoid
It became apparent very quickly that there were several mistakes I had made including washing the rice, the temperature of the oil, and the order of ingredients. Most recipes I tried, recommended a very high temperature, frying the rice first, and didn’t even mention washing the rice before cooking it.
Are you supposed to wash rice?
First of all, I was not washing my rice. In fact, before this moment, I had never washed my rice before. I honestly struggled with boredom and not wanting to add extra steps to my rice cooking. That was my excuse when it came to pre-washing my rice.
However, now that I wash my pre-wash my rice prior to cooking it, I will never go back. There are some things you can do to trick your mind to being less bored. There are also several different methods you can use to wash your rice. Find one that works for you and you’ll be good to go!
What temp should fried rice be cooked at?
There’s some debate over the ideal temperature of frying rice, however, I think it can be cooked at lower temps and still come out with the same results.
When I followed one recipes directions to heat everything on high, I was incredibly stressed out every time I would make it. If I stopped stirring, even for a few seconds, the veggies and rice would start to burn on the bottom of the wok. That simply did not work for me.
I was relieved to see that May cooks her fried rice on a much lower temperature. It was a medium or even slightly below medium heat. No more burned rice, no more stressed out chef.
What are the steps to make fried rice?
May recommends adding in the ingredients in the following order. This will help allow the different flavors to steep and combine. Adding things in this order also keeps you from over-cooking the ingredients and ending up with strange textures.
- Aromatics (garlic, onions, peppers etc.)
- Veggies (carrots, peas, cabbage, etc.)
- Meats (pork, chicken, shrimp, etc.)
One of the neat things about fried rice is that you can mix and match many different ingredients depending on what foods you like and what types of food you’re craving. If you want to make a vegan fried rice, you simply skip the meat & eggs section.
A day or two before you plan on making fried rice, cook some plain rice and store it in the fridge. It needs to be fully cooled, and cooling in the fridge for 6+ hours before frying.
You want the texture to be firm and for the individual pieces of rice to separate a bit when stirred.
The reason I wash my rice is to help with the texture. When I don’t wash the rice, the texture is much clumpier.
The day of, I prep any veggies and meat approximately ten to twenty minutes before I plan on starting to cook. I like to chop my onions, carrots, and green onions before making the fried rice.
I also recommend cracking any eggs you plan on scrambling before you start the rice. I typically scramble the eggs while I’m heating up the oil and starting to fry the aromatics.
Fried rice is pretty forgiving as far as how you cut your veggies and meat. Just keep in mind that the thicker you slice your veggies (especially carrots), the longer you will need to spend frying them. Although, if you like some crunch in your fried rice, then you won’t have to worry about adding too much extra time.
I like my carrots cooked just past the crunchy stage, so I often slice them thinner or just throw in pre-shredded carrots.
If you are including any meats in your rice, be sure to cut them into chunks or small pieces during your prep time. May actually recommends boiling the pork, beef, or chicken to “almost done”, letting it cool, and then chopping it into pieces.
My fingers are fairly sensitive, so I typically cut the meat into cubes first. Then I bring water to a boil, add in the cubes, and allow them to boil for about 5
If you skip the pre-cook step, just be sure to fry the meats long enough that they are completely cooked to their recommended internal temperature.
Pork temperature: 160° F
Chicken temperature: 165° F
Beef temperature: 160° F
Seasoning the Rice
The last step of prep work I recommend, is getting out all of your seasonings and sauces that you’ll be using in the rice.
Did you know that you can buy bouillon cubes but in powdered form???! Yeah, me neither. Check in your local grocery on the soup aisle for something called “Chicken Flavor Bouillon”.
I like to add in the sweet soy sauce, oyster sauce, and chicken bouillon first. Once those are thoroughly mixed into the rice, add in a pinch of black pepper and salt. Taste the rice and adjust the flavors accordingly. You can also add in some regular soy sauce and a small amount of sesame oil.
Once you’re happy with the flavor of the rice, you’re all set to start frying!
Putting Everything Together
Now for the actual frying!
Put your oil of choice (I use vegetable oil) in the wok and heat over a medium heat. If I’m making a large batch of fried rice, I put more oil in, if it’s less rice then you just need enough oil to coat the veggies, meat and rice. Usually just covering the bottom of the wok will suffice for a small amount of rice.
Once the oil is heated, and you can feel the heat rising from it, put in your aromatic veggies. You should hear some fizzling and popping when you put those in. Make sure to always place your veggies in away from you so the oil will pop away from you.
Note: I like to add in my carrots with my aromatics because they need longer to soften.
Once the onions turn translucent, the carrots begin to soften, and the garlic turns a darker brown color, you know you are ready for the next step.
Add in any other veggies such as frozen peas or cabbage. Stir and fry for a few minutes. While your veggies are frying, I recommend scrambling your eggs in a separate pan.
Now you’re ready to add in your meat(s) of choice. Incorporate the meat in with the veggies and continue to fry, stirring frequently. Make sure the meat reaches safe internal temperatures before moving onto the next step.
Note: You can add additional seasonings (such as additional soy sauce, salt, or pepper) to the meat if desired.
The second to last step is to add in all of your pre-seasoned rice into the wok. Completely stir it in with the meat and veggie mixture and fry for several minutes. If you plan on having leftovers, cook for a few extra minutes to help firm up the rice.
Last, but not least, add in your fully scrambled eggs! Once these are mixed in you are done! You have successfully made fried rice!! It tastes amazing plain, or you can add some yum yum sauce on top.
I typically pair the fried rice with this Honey Garlic Chicken recipe, or a batch of Crab Rangoons.
Rice (pre-cooked) (I recommend Jasmine rice)
Sweet Soy Sauce
Chicken Flavor Bouillon
- Pre-cook the rice 6+ hours to 2 days in advance and store in a refrigerator.
- Prep the veggies and season your rice. Chop, and pre-cook your meat of choice by boiling it for about 5-8 minutes.
- Heat oil in wok on medium heat. Fry any aromatics (onions, garlic, peppers, etc.) and tougher veggies (i.e. carrots) until they become translucent and soft.
- Add in any additional vegetables and fry for a few more minutes.
- Once the veggies are wilted, add in your meat chunks and fry until fully cooked. (Optional: add in extra sauce and seasonings with the meat.)
- Stir in all of the rice and fry for about 5-10 minutes. If you plan on having leftovers, fry for a couple extra minutes.
- Add in your scrambled eggs.