Great-tasting Fried Rice for Beginners
I'm always surprised when my family or friends give me positive comments on my fried rice. After all, the dish is probably one of the easiest to prepare. But after reading what others have to say about the subject, I realise I do have some useful pointers to give after all; and a favourite easy-to-cook recipe -- that tastes as good as what you'd find at a restaurant -- to share.
Fried Rice Secrets
Things you should know about making the perfect fried rice:
Cooked Rice. The cooked rice must be relatively dry, otherwise your fried rice might turn out be soggy. This is easily achieved by placing the cooked rice in the fridge at least one night. We often use the rice left over the previous evening's dinner.
Soy Sauce. You should ensure that the soy sauce caramelises to give you the distinctive fried-rice flavour. That means frying at medium-high to high heat. I find it more convenient to use a non-stick pan if I'm cooking a small portion (for one to two people). To avoid damaging the non-stick coating, use medium heat, but make sure to fry longer, until the rice no longer looks wet with soy sauce.
Oil. Without enough oil, your fried rice may turn out to have a soft, maybe even mushy texture. Look for the slight sheen of oil on the grains of your rice when your dish is done. If necessary, add a few drops of oil, and fry a little longer.
My Foolproof Recipe
This is one of my favourite types of fried rice. Fabulous combination of fragrant sausage, garlic and soy sauce which tastes great and takes minutes to prepare.
Fried Rice with Chinese Sausage
- 1 tbsp oil
- 2 heaped tbsp finely chopped Chinese Sausage
- 1 tbsp minced garlic
- 1 cup cooked rice
- 1 tbsp light soy sauce
- 1 egg
- 3 heaped tbsp chopped spring onions
- Heat oil and fry Chinese sausage until fragrant.
- Add garlic (you may want to lower the fire slightly as you add the garlic, as garlic tends to get burnt rather quickly).
- Next, add the cooked rice. Pour the soya sauce on top, and mix evenly into rice. Fry until soya sauce caramelises on the grains of rice.
- Make a space in the middle of the rice. Add more oil if necessary, and break the egg into the hole. Quickly scramble. Once the egg is set, mix it with the rice.
- Turn off the fire, stir in the fresh spring onions, and the dish is ready to serve.
- How to make great fried rice
I don't know the person who wrote this, but it's a fantastic article on the ins and outs of fried rice. Also includes a Thai Basil Fried Rice recipe.
Creating Your Own Variation
What's fun about fried rice is that you can actually be creative and combine your own ingredients. But, of course you need to know the basic building blocks first:
Garlic. Garlic, to me, is a must. The pungent taste adds so much to the fried rice. Many people also like to add diced onion to their fried rice (I don't, but this is a matter of individual preference).
Meat/Seafood. In my 'Foolproof Fried Rice' recipe here, I use Chinese Sausage. The strong taste of chinese sausage accents the fried rice very nicely. Other excellent variations are minced dried shrimp or finely chopped bacon, both of which add fragrance to the dish. Fresh meat or seafood are also widely used for fried rice. Just remember to season them first.
Soy Sauce. My favourite versions of fried rice are those with soy sauce. However, I do occasionally substitute with salt to get a lighter-coloured fried rice (and some people actually prefer their fried rice this way).
Vegetable. Just use your favourite vegetables, or root through the vegetables in your fridge. Generally any vegetable which can be finely sliced or diced works well. My favourites to add to fried rice include long beans, french beans, carrots, peas, spring onions. I usually add the vegetable(s) raw at the end of cooking since I like the crunch. Some may prefer to precook the vegetables (you can use the microwave or steamer; or lightly stir-fry and put aside before you start cooking your fried rice).
Egg. Fried rice tastes much better with egg, in my opinion. I like my egg to be well-cooked before I start to stir it into the rest of the rice. Some cooks may prefer the egg to coat the rice grains, so they'd stir in the rice before the scrambled egg sets fully.
Spices and Herbs. You can also experiment with various spices and herbs. For a more 'fusion' taste, add herbs used in western cuisine.