Having left Taiwan nearly 10 years ago, I'm always tinkering around in the kitchen to find the special flavors that are reminiscent of home. Over the years, this fried rice has secured its place as my go-to comfort food. In fact, it's become my friends' and roommates' comfort food, too. Countless people have stood over the sizzling wok to learn this dish. Many are surprised that it takes less than 10 minutes on the stove.
There are three key points to a good fried rice:
1) Use the right amount of oil. Too little and the rice won't break into individual grains. Too much and you end up with greasy take-out fried rice. The trick is to drizzle the oil around the wok and rice slowly, adding more as needed.
2) Maintain a dry, hot wok and work quickly. If the wok isn't hot enough or if there's too much liquid accumulated at the bottom, you end up steam cooking the rice and everything turns soggy. This is especially important before adding the rice. If you don't have a wok, you can use any large, shallow pan. Just avoid overcrowding the pan as it will steam the contents.
3) Aromatics. They give the rice its fragrance, so pick what you like and don't skip them. I like to use sesame oil, wine, and white pepper, but ginger, garlic, scallions, and onions are fine, too. Some people like to add soy sauce at the end, but I find that it can overpower the other aromatics--use with extreme caution.
Everything else is very flexible. You can use whatever you have in the fridge, though the vegetables mentioned in this recipe are simple and accessible options.
NOTE: For simplicity, I included only included cooked meat in this recipe. If you want to cook raw meats, just add it after the aromatics and before the vegetables. There's no need to remove from pan after cooking. Typically pork, chicken, shrimp, or beef is marinated in a bit of sugar, some soy sauce, and a bit of rice or sherry wine for 10-20 minutes prior to cooking.
white rice, cooked and cooled overnight in the fridge
green onions, separated into white and green parts, chopped
cooked protein, e.g. bacon, ham, chinese sausage, extra-firm tofu (optional)
frozen peas, defrosted
carrots, chopped finely or grated
neutral or light flavored oil
rice or sherry wine (optional)
salt, to taste
white pepper, to taste
soy sauce (optional)
In This Recipe
BEFORE YOU BEGIN: "Mise en place" is essential, as the whole cooking process takes less than 10 minutes. Cook and cool the rice in advance. (Leftovers work great!) Chop all vegetables finely. Beat the eggs in a mixing bowl with a dash of soy sauce and sesame oil.
COOK THE EGGS: Heat up a wok over high heat. Add 1T oil and heat until it begins to shimmer. Add the eggs and let cook, stirring occasionally, until scrambled and 70% cooked. Transfer the eggs into the original mixing bowl and set aside.
STIR FRY MEAT/TOFU (OPTIONAL) & VEGETABLES: Add another 1T of oil into the hot wok. Add the chopped yellow onion and white part of the scallions. Cook for 1-2 minutes until fragrant. Add the meat or tofu, followed by green peas, carrots, and/or any other stir-fry ingredients you have. If you're using wine, drizzle some along the edge of the wok. You should hear it sizzle, as the contact with the wok releases the wine's aroma. Make sure it all evaporates off before you move on to the next step.
ADD RICE: Add another glug of oil and then the rice. Working quickly, stir-fry everything together and break down the rice chunks without mushing together the individual grains. You may need to drizzle a bit more oil along the side of the wok as you do this. Each rice grain should be coated by a slight oil sheen when you're done.
ADD EGGS, SALT, SESAME OIL, AND GREEN ONIONS: Add the scrambled eggs back into the wok and give it a quick stir. Add salt and white pepper to taste (2-3 large pinches is usually enough). Drizzle in the sesame oil for aroma. Sprinkle the green onions on top as garnish.