We’ve been on a bit of an Asian food kick lately. It’s been a weekly thing for me to want to drive into Charleston to my favorite restaurant and have dinner. If you knew me, you’d know the thought of driving across town and into Charleston at dinnertime makes me cringe. I mean, it’s easily a 30-minute ride plus traffic and on a Friday (what was I even thinking!). What a nightmare. But with all that umami waiting for me, how could I resist?
What I’m talking about is not just any Fried Rice though, it’s Loaded “House” Fried Rice!
Loaded “House” Fried Rice has a little bit of everything: fluffy scrambled eggs, crisp veggies, tender beef, succulent chicken and briny colossal-sized shrimp! Hunger pangs get the best of me every time and I simply cannot choose one mix-in over the other so I order the “House” specialty. I am never disappointed. Just knowing that a steaming bowl of umami deliciousness is coming my way and it’s all I can do to settle in and wait. You can’t really blame me, can you? MMMMmmmmmmm!
As much as I like to splurge and eat it out sometimes, Fried Rice is quite easy to make at home and quick, too. It’s the perfect way to use up leftover meats, rice, and vegetables. It also can be tailored to fit your mood. Let’s think about that for a minute. Fried Rice is popular around the world from Hawaiian Pineapple & Ham (Spam!) to Filipino Garlic Fried Rice, and Thai Chicken and Basil Fried Rice,too. Fresh basil! It’s easy to see how you vary the recipe to suit the ingredients you have on hand. The good news? You don’t even need any special equipment (or a wok) to make fried rice. It can all be done in a skillet. I prefer a non-stick skillet and I use one pan for all the components from start to finish. You might also like to use the cast iron skillet to get a good crispiness on your rice. The closest I can simulate a traditional wok burner in my home is the side burner of my propane gas grill. If you have a side burner on your grill and a wok, you can try it out and see how it goes.
All that said, I start with cold, leftover rice from the previous night. Yes, sometimes I even make extra rice just so I have an excuse! I cook with a regular, medium-grain rice. Nothing special or fancy. I have cooked fresh rice and allowed it to chill for several hours before. Using fresh steamed rice without chilling has never worked out well for me (think: glutinous mess) so I always start with leftover rice. For me, it just works best. Since Western stoves do not heat as highly as a specialized butane wok shaped burner, the wide flat pan works best for our flat-burner stoves. I let mine get good an hot and the trick is to not stir it as often as we’ve seen at the restaurants. Traditional wok burners, because of their extremely high heat, need the food in constant motion to avoid burning. I found that just like hash browns, I need to let the rice sit for a minute before stirring to allow the sugars to caramelize. Those crispy bits impart the best flavors!
But that’s not to say that cooking fried rice is rocket science either; you don’t need exact measurements or ingredients. The recipe is pretty forgiving. We incorporate just about everything into our fried rice: chicken, shrimp, beef, tofu, ham (Spam, even!), sweet Chinese sausage, frozen veggies, & pineapple, to name a few. For seasonings and aromatics, we like to use ginger paste, minced garlic, mirin (Japanese cooking wine), sesame oil, and sriracha sauce and chili paste for some spicy heat. Fried Rice is simple yet amazing. If you have never cooked it at home, you should try it!
How did it turn out? This “House” Fried Rice is:
- Savory (umami)
Okay! Time to get serious. It took longer to read this post than it does to cook Fried Rice. So off you go! Let me know how it turns out.
- 1 tbsp Oyster Sauce
- 1.5 tbsp soy sauce (regular or low sodium)
- 1.5 tsp dark soy sauce
- 1 tsp roasted sesame oil
- 3 cups medium grain rice, chilled fresh or leftovers
- 3 tbsp oil (vegetable, canola or peanut), separated
- 2 eggs, lightly beaten
- 2 cloves garlic, minced (about 2 tsp)
- 2 tsp ginger paste
- ¾ cup diced onion (white or yellow)
- 1 cup frozen peas
- ¼ cup thinly sliced carrots rounds
- 1 tbsp mirin (Asian sweet cooking wine and rice seasoning)
- 6 oz shrimp, any variety, peeled and cooked, tails on (i used colossal)
- 4 oz chicken, pounded thin, sliced and saute (or leftover roasted)
- 4 oz beef steak, pounded thin, sliced thin and sauteed
- 3 scallions, thinly sliced, divided
- Salt and Pepper, to taste
- sliced scallions
- Sesame Oil for drizzling
- toasted sesame seeds
- It's best for this recipe to prepare everything you will need before starting. Chop and measure everything. Once you start cooking, it really comes together fast.
- Combine the sauce ingredients together in a small bowl. Set aside.
- Heat the skillet on high until it is good and hot. Add 1 tbsp oil and add eggs and scramble. Remove eggs to a plate and set aside.
- Add the shrimp to the hot skillet, season with salt and pepper and cook about 1 - 2 minutes per side; or until the shrimp turn a light pink color and the tails curl in. Remove to a plate and set aside.
- Add chicken and saute until the chicken is cooked through and the juices are clear. Remove to the plate with the shrimp and set aside.
- Add the beef strips into the hot skillet. Season with salt and pepper. Cook for 1-2 minutes or until your desired doneness is achieved. I saute mine just to a medium. They will finish cooking with transfer heat when they are added back to the pan. Remove to the plate with the chicken and shrimp and set aside.
- Add the remaining oil, add the garlic and ginger paste. When it just starts to sizzle and become aromatic, add the onions and fry until golden brown, about 2 minutes.
- Next, add the peas, carrots, and mirin. The mirin will bubble rapidly. Allow this to simmer until it is mostly evaporated and the vegetables are tender.
- Return the meats to the pan along with the rice, eggs, the scallions, and sauce. Stir to coat the rice with the sauce.
- To get a nice crispy rice, allow it to sit for 30 seconds or so to allow caramelization on the rice, if crispiness in not desired, stir until the rice is heated through.
- Taste and adjust seasonings. If desired, add more soy sauce.
- Optional garnishes include scallions, sesame oil, toasted sesame seeds, and sriracha sauce (spicy).
Frying in smaller batches helps to compensate for the low heat of Western stovetops vs. the butane wok burners used in restaurants.
Chinese cooking wine is the secret ingredient here. It's the one thing that makes this fried rice taste like restaurant quality.
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