Fried rice: the rules!

Fried rice was our to-go easy dinner when I was a kid – we probably ate it once a week at least. Without a doubt it is my top comfort food, as it probably is for most people with some SE Asian heritage. It’s also quick, delicious, and a fine repository for any old leftovers bunging up the fridge.

I was prompted to write this post by an Instagram photo by my friend Becka. Becka is a great cook, and the one of the finest cake bakers I’ve ever known. She blogs her (mostly vegetarian/vegan) cooking at Becka Eats. I very often get inspiration from Becka’s cookery. But in this case, she mentioned that she had used hot, recently cooked rice for her fried rice.

I was SHOCKED.

I should say that fried rice is one of the most flexible recipes ever. You can add egg or not, use it to hide all sorts of veg, make it posh, or use it as a dustbin dinner. There are only two rules:

  1. If you’re using egg, it always goes in first.
  2. ALWAYS use cold rice.

If you fry hot rice, it just ends up as a stodge. For me, cold rice is non-negotiable.

Here’s my basic egg fried rice recipe, as in the picture. I haven’t given quantities – it’s as much as you think you’ll eat. Prepare everything before you start, as the cooking is really fast – literally moments.

Egg fried rice for 1-2

  • Cold cooked rice (cool it quickly once it’s cooked)
  • 1 egg
  • 3 spring onions, sliced
  • Soy sauce
  • Black pepper
  • Oil for frying (not olive oil – wrong kind of flavour and doesn’t get hot enough)

Break your cold rice up before you start.

Put a little oil in a wok or frying pan and get it good and hot. Now break in the egg and stir round quickly with a fork to mix. Tip in the rice quickly and keep stirring, scraping any crispy bits from the bottom of the pan. Add the spring onions and a good shake or two (or three) of soy sauce to taste. Season with black pepper (you shouldn’t need salt). Once you’re sure all the rice is hot, scrape into a bowl or bowls and eat (with a dab or two of chilli oil, if you’re me).

Good things to add:

  • Leftover cooked chicken, pork or beef
  • Cooked or uncooked prawns
  • Chopped bacon
  • Oily fish like mackerel or sardines
  • Chopped garlic, ginger and chillies
  • Sliced green leaves like pak choi, Chinese leaves, or cabbage
  • Frozen peas
  • Julienned carrots, courgettes, cucumber and peppers
  • Sliced water chestnuts, bamboo shoots, bean sprouts
  • Anchovies, jarred or dried

So as you can see, fried rice is a very inclusive kinda meal. And on further consideration, I find I can be inclusive too and reconcile myself to Becka’s version. I’m making it to taste the way I was brought up eating it, and she’s making it the way she wants it to taste.

It’s going to go in the same category as skiing though: I can understand that some people want to throw themselves down cold, hard, wet mountains but that doesn’t mean I’m going to do it myself…

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