This article was originally published in January 2016
There are almost as many ways to make fried rice as there are to make a casserole — and everyone is certain that the best way is the one they find most familiar. Throw out the rules on ingredients; just use the technique and what you have on hand for a quick weeknight meal.
1. Heat pan with oil and aromatics
Heat both your pan and oil (peanut oil is a great choice) until the oil shimmers, then reduce the heat before adding aromatics so they don’t burn. Add minced garlic, shallots or ginger, depending on your preference. You can also fry some minced bacon — it’s heresy to some, but it’s also delicious.
2. Add vegetables
Use your scraps first: a lonely carrot, a handful of spinach or the last stalk of celery. Fill in with broccoli, snap peas, a wedge of cabbage or some canned corn or water chestnuts. Chop everything into bite-size pieces and add in order of how long it will take to cook (broccoli and carrots first; everything else cooks quickly).
3. Pick your protein
This is another great spot for leftovers. Dice or shred some cooked pork or chicken, or toss in some cubed tofu. Or, push the vegetables to one side and add an egg and a drop of sesame oil. Stir to scramble the eggs, and once they’re almost completely set, mix them into the other ingredients.
4. Add the rice in small batches
Just like French toast is best with day-old bread, fried rice is best with day-old rice that’s been in the fridge overnight. It’s firmer and is less likely to get mushy. Long- or medium-grain rice is less likely to clump than short-grain, but use brown or white as you prefer.
5. Season to taste
Bottled condiments are an easy choice — tamari, sriracha, fish sauce, mirin, vinegar or teriyaki sauce all work. Combine your favorites with a pinch or two of five spice powder, sesame seeds or minced scallions.
Recipes for fried rice
Find more precise recipes for three variations, including a flavorful vegan version. Get recipes »