Every home cook’s basic Chinese egg fried rice recipe, so tasty and flavourful! Make endless variations by adding your favourite ingredients such as shrimp, ham, beef, Chinese sausages, salted fish, olives, kimchi, and more!
I often cook fried rice for my family so it felt like high time to share one of our easiest staple meals.
To be honest, I was in a bit of a dilemma when it came to writing this post. I mean, you guys probably don’t need another Chinese fried rice recipe on the internet, and more likely, everyone probably knows how to cook a dish of fried rice.
But as a Chinese home cook whose goal is to introduce everyday, simple Chinese recipes, I felt I would be remiss if I didn’t have this up on the blog.
So, here I am sharing my family’s favourite recipe. This Chinese egg fried rice is one of the simplest versions you could make, because it needs very few ingredients.
Well, the name says it all, doesn’t it? Just eggs, onions, and rice, of course! And you can have it ready in under 20 minutes.
Egg fried rice is perfect for days when you need something that is more flavourful than plain steamed rice. And it’s such a great way to use up day-old rice.
It is tasty, without overpowering the flavours of other savoury dishes.
What makes egg fried rice taste delicious?
It’s all about the seasonings. I use a light flavouring of soy sauce, seasoning powder, salt, pepper, and sesame oil.
Many fried rice recipes do not suggest seasoning the eggs, and that’s perfectly fine if there are other savoury ingredients like shrimp, ham, roast pork, etc., to add flavour.
But I have found that flavouring the eggs too, creates lots and lots of tasty, scrambled, omelette bits throughout the rice. Every spoonful is deeelicious!
What types of rice are suitable for fried rice?
Every cuisine has its many versions of fried rice. Savoury, light and fluffy fried rice is characteristic in Chinese, Malay and Indian cuisines.
Japanese and Korean fried rice dishes tend to be savoury sweet, as well as more sticky. So, what you enjoy about a dish of fried rice dish will likely depend on the texture of rice you’re accustomed to eating.
But first, why the differences in rice texture? Interestingly, it all has to do with the width and length of a rice grain.
Types and characteristics of rice – long-, medium-, and short-grain
There are three classifications or varieties of rice, namely long-, medium-, and short-grain. Each type of grain has distinct characteristics and works best for specific dishes in cooking.
- Short-grain rice, like the ones Japanese use for sushi, are short in width and length and tend to have a sticky texture when cooked.
- Medium-grain varieties are twice the width and length of short-grain, and are moist and tender when cooked. It is characteristically less sticky than short-grain rice. This variety is widely used in Spanish cooking for paellas or arroces.
- Long-grain rice, like jasmine rice and basmati rice, is anywhere from 3 to 4 times the width and length of short-grain. When cooked, long-grain rice is drier, loose and fluffy in texture.
So there you have it, in a nutshell. If you find this interesting, you might like this article which explains the different types of rice, their characteristics, and uses in cooking.
Generally, I recommend cooking fried rice with long- and medium-grain varieties.
Chinese fried rice is moist but not sticky, and has a light, loose and fluffy texture. This is largely because our staple rice is the long-grain variety.
Tips for getting the perfect fried rice texture
- Use several days old cold rice. Many recipes suggest day-old cold rice, but my experience is to allow cooked rice a longer chilling time to remove more moisture. When you fry, the fats and juices from the other ingredients (vegetables, meat, or seafood) will more than amply moisten the rice. The cooked rice should be fairly dry and firm, to begin with.
- Have all the ingredients prepared and ready before you even start the fire. Everything gets added quickly once you start cooking! Ready all your flavourings too.
- Break up any clumps of rice before adding to the wok. This will help the rice separate quickly and loosen up during the frying.
- Use more oil. The more oil used, the more the grains will separate. As a general guide, use 1 tbsp of oil for every cup of cooked rice. Of course, you may reduce the oil for a healthier dish.
- Stir-fry continuously to cook through evenly. In Chinese cooking, we continuously toss and stir-fry the ingredients to allow even cooking throughout. This also helps evaporate water content, before as well as after adding the rice.
Wait, there’s more … cos it’s all about getting your fried rice perfect!
- Fry in very hot oil, over high heat in a wok or skillet. This helps to evaporate excess moisture, and sears meat and prawns to seal in their juices. More importantly, in Chinese cooking, we always strive to get as close as possible to ‘wok hey‘, which is only possible with frying food in intense heat.
- Before adding the rice, make sure that ingredients are not too ‘wet’. Continue to stir-fry to allow juices to evaporate, otherwise too much moisture will make the rice starchy and clump up, instead of separating.
- Add seasonings (salt, pepper, sauce, seasoning powder, etc.) to the ingredients before adding the rice. This allows the flavours introduced by the seasonings to be more evenly distributed.
- When frying eggs before all ingredients or alternatively, if adding to the rice after the rest of the ingredients, make sure that there is enough oil to cook the eggs so that it does not stick to the wok or skillet.
How to cook fried rice: Step-by-step
One versatile recipe, many variations!
How to cook popular Asian fried rice versions
With some simple additions (or omissions) or swap of ingredients, you can turn this basic fried rice recipe into many delicious versions. Here are just a few:
- Yangzhou fried rice – add diced roast pork or chicken, Chinese sausages, small cooked prawns, diced onions, carrots and peas. Flavour with light soy sauce, salt and pepper.
- Malay fried rice (nasi goreng) – add diced chicken breast or cooked prawns, diced onions, carrots, and French beans. Flavour with sambal belachan and salt. Omit: spring onions. Garnish with fried prawn crackers (kerupuk) and ikan bilis.
- Indian fried rice – add diced chicken breast, chopped ginger, onions and tomatoes, and peas. Flavour with chilli powder, garam masala and salt. Eggs can be omitted.
How to serve Chinese egg fried rice
In my humble opinion, can I just say that egg fried rice goes well with just about anything savoury! No matter whether you’re serving Asian or Western.
For a complete and wholesome Chinese meal, consider serving egg fried rice with:
- Stir-fried French beans with minced pork in soy bean paste
- Prawn paste chicken wings (har cheong gai)
- Cantonese stir-fried prawns in special sauce (har lok)
- Stir-fried kailan with garlic and oyster sauce