Fried rice is a popular component of Asian cuisine, especially in Southeast Asia, where it is a staple. Fried rice is made from steamed rice stir-fried in a wok, often with other ingredients, such as eggs, vegetables, and meat. It is sometimes served as the penultimate dish in Chinese banquets (just before dessert). As a home-cooked dish, fried rice typically is made with leftover ingredients from other dishes, leading to countless variations.
The many popular varieties of fried rice have their own specific list of ingredients. In Asia, the more famous varieties include Yangzhou and Fujian fried rice. Elsewhere, most restaurants catering to vegetarian or Muslim clientele have invented their own varieties of fried rice including egg fried rice, Malaysian (spicy) fried rice and the ubiquitous “special fried rice”.
Preparation of Fried Rice
Fried rice is made from cold rice already cooked by steaming. The use of leftover rice and other leftover ingredients is common when cooked at home. It is important to use leftover rice because the moisture in fresh rice will cause it to steam instead of fry. The oil may be seasoned with aromatics such as garlic before the rice and other ingredients are stir-fried together in a wok. The other ingredients used in fried rice are greatly varied. They can include eggs, meat (chicken, beef, or cured pork), seafood (shrimp or lobster), vegetables (carrots, broccoli, bean sprouts, celery, peas, corn), mushrooms, spices and peppers, and soy sauce or sometimes oyster sauce. The base of vegetable fried rice does not contain any meat or seafood; others are named for the primary addition (e.g., “chicken fried rice” or “shrimp fried rice”). Other “house” versions may contain several meats and seafoods. It is often stir-fried in a wok with vegetable oil or animal fat to prevent sticking, as well as for flavour. Onions, spring onion and garlic are often added for extra flavour. It is popularly eaten either as an accompaniment to another dish, or as a course by itself.
Popular garnishes include fried shallots, sprigs of parsley or coriander leaves, carrots carved into intricate shapes or sliced chilli sprinkled on top of the heaped rice.
Many food stands found on the streets across Southeast Asia serve fried rice with a selection of garnishes and side dishes that the customer can choose to add.
Common Variations of Fried Rice
|Arroz de Chaufa – Cantonese-Peruvian Style Fried Rice||Chaufa rice is one of the main Chifa dishes, the delicious result of mixing Peruvian and Chinese cuisine. There are many combinations for chaufa rice.|
|Chaulafan de Pollo – Ecuadorian Chicken Fried Rice||Chaulafan is an Ecuadorian version of fried rice. In most major cities in Ecuador you will find chifas or Chinese restaurants which are usually the best places to eat chaulafan; you can either eat at the restaurant or get it as a takeaway meal.|
|Garlic Prawns and Sweet Chilli Fried Rice||Garlic and sweet chilli sauce bring out the best in this succulent and aromatic fried rice dish.|
|Hokkien or Fujian fried rice||This variation of Chinese fried rice is from the Fujian region of China; it has a thick sauce poured and mixed over it. The sauce can include mushrooms, meat, vegetables, etc.|
|Khao Khluk Kapi – Fried Rice with Shrimp Paste||Khao khluk kapi is rice stir-fried with shrimp paste, served with sweetened pork, beef or vegetables, sour mango, fried shrimp, chillies and shallots.|
|Khao Op Sapparot – Pineapple Fried Rice||Chinese invented fried rice but we think it’s the genius of the Thais that make fried rice sinfully delicious — they concocted pineapple fried rice.|
|Khao Phat – Fried Rice||This dish differs from Chinese fried rice is that it is prepared with Thai Jasmine rice instead of regular long-grain rice.|
|Khao Phat Gai – Fried Rice with Chicken||A basic fried rice commonly made by street vendors and fine restaurants alike. It’s best to use day-old rice that’s been cooked and sitting at room temperature.|
|Khao Phat Kung – Fried Rice with Shrimp||Classic shrimp fried rice with fresh shrimp, rice, spring onions, peas, carrots, and oyster sauce.|
|Mushroom Fried Rice||Mushrooms have all the attributes of a superfood – nutrient-rich, low in kilojoules and high in antioxidants – and add plenty of flavour to this fried rice dish. An affordable, filling meal.|
|Sinangag – Filipino Garlic Fried Rice||In Sinangag, a Filipino version of garlic fried rice, rice is added to stir-fried garlic and then seasoned with salt and pepper. It is a common, everyday breakfast dish.|
|Bai cha||A Khmer variation of fried rice, it includes diced Chinese sausage, garlic, soy sauce, and herbs usually eaten with pork.|
|Canton (or Mui Fan)||A Cantonese dish of fried rice, typically dry|
|Cha–Han or Yakimeshi||This Chinese fried rice is suited to Japanese tastes, sometimes adding katsuobushi for flavour.|
|Yeung chow (or Yangzhou) fried rice||This dish consisting of generous portions of shrimp and scrambled egg, along with barbecued pork. This is the most popular fried rice served in Chinese restaurants, commonly referred to simply as “special fried rice” or “house fried rice”.|
|Yuan yang fried rice||Topped with two different types of sauce, it typically has a savoury white sauce on one half, and a red tomato-based sauce on the other half. Elaborated versions use the sauce to make ataichi (“yin-yang”) symbol.|
|Burmese fried rice (htamin gyaw)||Normally uses Burmese fragrant rice which is short grain (rounder and shorter). A popular variety is a very plain version consisting of rice, boiled peas, onions, garlic and dark soy sauce. An accompanying condiment would bengapi kyaw (fried fish paste with shredded flakes) and fresh cucumber strips mixed with chopped onions, green chilli and vinegar.|
|American fried rice (Khao pad Amerigan)||This style of fried rice is actually a Thai invention using hot dogs, fried chicken, eggs as side dishes or mixed into rice fried with ketchup. Apparently, this was served to GIs during the Vietnam war, but now has become very popular and commonplace all throughout Thailand. The Malaysian counterpart, substituting pork with chicken, is called nasi goreng USA.|
|Nasi goreng||An Indonesian and Malay version of fried rice, the main difference compared to fried rice is it is cooked with sweet soy sauce (kecap manis). It is often accompanied by additional items such as a fried egg, fried chicken, satay, and condiments such as sambal, acar, and krupuk. It is served in Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, and most of the neighbouring countries, and is popular in the Netherlands.|
|Kimchi bokkeumbap or kimchi fried rice||A popular variety of fried rice, it is prepared with Korean pickled cabbage (kimchi) and a variable list of other ingredients. A wide range of fried rice dishes are frequently prepared in Korean cuisine, often with whichever ingredients are handy.|
|Curry fried rice||standard fried rice mixed with curry powder for a spicier flavour.|
|Sambal fried rice||Found in Singapore, this is a variation of fried rice made with sambal, a condiment based on chillies and belachan, derived from Indonesian and Malay influences.|
|Hawaiian fried rice||A common style of fried rice in Hawaii, it usually contains egg, spring onions, peas, cubed carrots, and either Portuguese sausage or Spam or both, sometimes available with kimchi added. Normally, it is cooked in sesame oil.|
|Arroz Frito (Cuban fried rice)||Very similar to “special fried rice”, this version can be found alongside typical criollo dishes in many Cuban restaurants. This dish features ham, grilled pork, shrimp, chicken, and eggs, along with a variety of vegetables. Some restaurants add lechón (Cuban-style suckling pig), lobster tails, and/or crab. Chinese Cubans are responsible for the dish’s introduction.|
|Omelette rice||Also known as omurice in Japanese or nasi pattaya in Malay, it is fried rice wrapped inside the egg omelet. The fried rice is generally mixed with a variety of vegetables and meat.Tomato sauce is added.|