CHINESE FRIED RICE - THE CLASSIC TAKE-OUT DISH
Chinese fried rice, not to be confused with the Indonesian Nasi Goring, is the ultimate comfort food and for many of us the go-to option when ordering take-out.
I know I am no exception to this and ‘Shall we get a Chinese takeout?’ was an almost weekly occurring sentence in my house when I lived in UK. That changed drastically when I moved away from suburbia and to the countryside. And it stopped entirely when I relocated to rural Germany. There are either no restaurants or their food is less than stellar.
This conundrum left me with no other option than making my own ‘fake-away’ Chinese fried rice, and what can I say - it can compete with the best of them!
Can home made actually beat take-out?
A lot of research went into finding not only the right ingredients but especially the correct methods. Some of which I found out through various people working for my favourite take-away restaurants (thank you for sharing your ‘secrets’), while the last two ‘missing pieces’ (aka adding baking soda to the chicken and using rice cooking wine and not rice wine vinegar) were an epiphany I had when watching James Farmer’s video over on YouTube.
You need to know this before you start cooking this recipe:
1) Precooking the rice: in order to make a good fried rice, you need to cook it at least one day before. The rice needs to be cold and dried out in order for it to keep its grainy structure while being fried, whereas freshly cooked rice will turn your dish soggy and most likely stick to the pan.
2) The rice blend: my favourite takeaway Chinese restaurant in Kent, UK, shared with me that they add Jasmin rice to the standard long grain rice to achieve a balance between individual grains and a slightly sticky structure.
3) MSG aka Monosodium Glutamate: it does give that extra ‘oomph’ but is optional, as the recipe is already flavour-packed. If you don’t have MSG in your pantry, simply substitute by adding more light soy sauce if needed. If you want to learn more about MSG, I have written a whole article about it, explaining what it is and how to cook with it.
4) White Pepper: Chinese dishes almost always use white pepper. That's not to say that you cannot use black if that is the only one you have available, but white is preferable. I'll link my article on the differences between peppercorns below!
5) Sesame oil: do NOT skip this step. Sesame oil poured over the ready dish does give it an additional layer of flavour and you will definitely miss it if it’s not there.
6) Mise-en-place is particularly important in this recipe, as once everything is prepped, the actual cooking steps need to happen fairly quickly, so make sure you have everything prepped, measured and ready to be poured into your wok.
Good to Know
Well, what do you think? Can my recipe beat your favourite Chinese take-away? Or will it become your go-to option for your nights in? Please let me know in the comments below.
Chinese fried rice
Better than takeaway! The best fried rice recipe for your nights in. Ready in under 30 minutes (boil rice the day before).
Fact SheetCategory: Main Cuisine: Asian Dairy free Gluten free Sides Main Dishes under 1 hour under 30 minutes Cooking Method: Frying Diet: Preparation Time: 20 minutes Total Time: 15 minutes Servings: 3
- 1 chicken breast (you can also use 120g shrimp)
- 1 cup Long grain rice
- 1 cup Jasmine rice
- 3 eggs
- 1 cup onions (chopped)
- 1 cup peas (frozen)
- 1/2 cup cabbage (sliced)
- 1/2 cup bean sprouts
- 1 carrot
- 2 spring onions
- 3 cloves garlic
- 5 TBSP peanut oil (or other neutral oils)
- 3 TBSP light soy sauce
- 2 TBSP dark soy sauce
- 2 TBSP Chinese rice cooking wine / Shao Xing wine (substitute with Sherry, not vinegar!)
- 1.5 TBSP palm sugar (substitute with brown sugar)
- 2 tsp sesame oil
- 1 tsp corn starch
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- kosher salt
- white pepper (ground)
- 1/2 tsp MSG Monosodium glutamate **optional**
- on the DAY BEFORE: Mix long grain and Jasmine rice together and wash 3-4 times under running water to remove any starch until water runs clear. Be careful not to let it sit in the water to avoid moisturising the rice. Cook rice in rice cooker or in pot in 2.5 - 3 cups of water. Let cool, spread out evenly in oven dish or baking tray, cover lightly (not air tight!) and refrigerate overnight.
- Ingredients at a glance. Make sure everything is prepared before you start frying.
- on the DAY OF: remove rice from fridge - it should now be well dry.
- *optional step:* mix the cold rice with one egg yolk (this is known as 'golden fried rice' - I have not done that in this recipe)
- to prepare the chicken marinade, mix: 1/2 tbsp light soy sauce, 1 tsp sugar, 1/2 tsp corn starch, 1/4 tsp kosher salt, 1 tsp peanut (or rapeseed) oil
- to prepare the chicken: cut breast lengthwise into 3cm thick strips, then cut these strips into 0.5cm thin slices (against the grain). To avoid the chicken drying out during the frying process, sprinkle it with 1/2 tsp of baking soda and massage it into the meat. Then add chicken to marinade and mix well.
- to prepare the eggs: beat 3 eggs and add a pinch of salt and a pinch of white pepper
- to prepare the sauce mix: 1 tbsp sugar , 1.5 tbsp light soy sauce , 2 tbsp dark soy sauce , 1 tsp kosher salt , 1/4 tsp white pepper (optional: 1/2 tsp MSG)
- Cut onions and carrots into small dice. Chop garlic. Slice spring onion and cabbage.
- Let's get frying!
- Pre-heat your Wok(or pan) on stove on high heat until you can see heat rise from wok. Then add 1-2 tbsp neutral oil and swirl wok until it’s well coated.
- Turn heat down to medium.
- Pour in the eggs and wait for them to puff up - after about 20-30 seconds, while the middle is still runny, scramble the eggs and continue stirring them around the pan until they are almost done.
- Remove from the pan and set aside.
- Repeat this step: heat your Wok(or pan) on stove on high heat until you can see heat rise from wok. Then add 1-2 tbsp neutral oil and swirl wok until it’s well coated.
- Add the chicken (single layer, repeat this step if necessary). Fry until lightly browned on one side (approx 45 seconds to 1 minute), then turn and stir until the chicken is about 90% cooked.
- Remove from the pan and set aside.
- on medium heat, add onion and carrot and fry for about 3 minutes until onions are translucent. Stir frequently.
- add garlic and stir for about 30 seconds
- add peas, cabbage and beans sprouts, fry for 2 minutes stirring frequently
- add cooked rice, stir in with the vegetables until there are no lumps, then stir less frequently so rice can get browned from all sides.
- Add 1 tsp oil if the rice looks too dry.
- after 5 minutes, stir in egg and chicken until all is well mixed.
- pour in the sauce around the outer edge, Immediately stir the rice until the sauce is evenly incorporated
- add the Shan Xing wine, stir immediately to incorporate evenly and cook off the alcohol for one minute.
- add sesame oil and spring onion, stir.
- Well done, your amazing Chinese fried rice is now ready.