Confucius, the great Chinese scholar, was asked on his deathbed in 479 BC just what the secret was to the perfect egg-fried rice. His reply will astound you…
He said, “走开我快要死了” which loosely translates as “Bugger off mate, I’m dying here”.
And so, since Confucius couldn’t help us, I’m here to step up to the mark.
The first secret to perfect fried rice is to use rice that has been cooked the day before. Don’t try to cheat! You may get acceptable results but why bother spending all the time making a delicious rice dish, only to use a main ingredient which is subpar? Just think about it the previous night and chuck a few cups in. Add a little less water than you usually would if you usually eat your rice fairly soft. The point of using day-old rice is that it has a chance to dry out so the more water you use when cooking it, the more it has to dry out which is self-defeating. Make sense?
The second secret is to always keep your pan smoking hot to give it Wok Hei (Breath of Wok). Anything less than this and you will get a sticky, gloopy pile of crap. Nobody really wants that. You also need to have everything ready by your side so you can just throw it in and you don’t have to leave the rice unattended for longer than 10 seconds.
The third secret is to not overload the dish with wet ingredients. Remember we are trying to keep it dry and the last thing we want is for it to turn into a big pile of sticky, gloopy crap. Hopefully you’re getting the message now.
Finally, save all your fancy toppings such as crushed pine nuts and saffron flakes, shredded dragon scales, minced eye of newt etc until you really know what you’re doing. There’s nothing more disheartening than spending a long time prepping ingredients for your dish to turn out as… well, you know.
And so, without further ado. Here is a delicious and simple recipe for egg fried rice. Once you have this down, throw in any ingredients you like. You will feel much more confident about fried rice after making this and be more keen to experiment with other flavors.
3 eggs beaten
3 cups cooked rice (cooked 12hr in advance and left in the fridge)
1 big onion diced
3 stalks spring onion chopped
3 tbsp vegetable oil
2 red chilies diced
A few slices of ham
1/2 tsp ground white pepper
2 tbsp soy sauce
1. Have the rice ready. Wet your fingers and work your way gently through it to remove any lumps.
2. Crack the eggs into a bowl and beat them lightly.
3. Dice the onion and the chilies, chop the spring onions, cut the ham into small squares. Now, get ready.
4. Heat 2 tbsp of the oil in a wok set on high. Wait until it just starts smoking. Throw in the eggs and use a wooden spoon to work it all apart so the eggs are lightly scrambled. Leave it just long enough to set, but not so long that they end up rubbery. You will know. Tip the cooked egg into a bowl.
5. Heat up the other tbsp of oil until it is smoking. Chuck in the rice and heat it through for about 2 minutes, removing any clumps that have reformed. Don’t leave the rice longer than about 10 seconds without tossing it.
6. Put the onion and chili in and sweat them a bit. This will give a nice crunchy texture when it is done as opposed to putting them in right at the start.
7. Add the ham and the egg and heat them through. Next, put in the soya sauce, drizzling it round the edge of the pan before mixing it in.
8. Now, season with white pepper, a pinch of salt (you don’t want all the saltiness to come from the soy sauce as you want to keep the mix as dry as possible).
9. Finally, throw in the spring onions, reserving a little for garnish. Mix it through. Serve immediately and top with the remaining spring onions and some fried shallots if you have them to hand.
Done! I hope you enjoy it!
Season the dish as close to the end as possible as salt can make the rice stick.
Use wet ingredients nearer the end to avoid the rice going mushy.
Heat the wok before putting the oil in to ensure it doesn’t stick.