Over the years, I have to confess that I have tended to order off of the side dishes part of the menu for a lot of my meals.
Particularly at Chinese restaurants, I’ve been known to just buy an order of fried rice for lunch and skip over the entrees completely. It’s one of my favorite things.
According to an article by Rhonda Parkinson, the recipe for fried rice literally goes back centuries in China and likely came about sometime during the Sui Dynasty, which lasted from 589 to 618 A.D.
The “proper” way to make it is the subject of a lot of debate online if you want to jump into the fray. People differ on the seasonings, the vegetables, what meats are or are not added, and even at what point in the process an egg should be added.
So when I made fried rice to go along with dinner recently, I just chose a recipe that sounded good to try and went with it, fully recognizing that I probably wasn’t accomplishing something “authentic.” But in the grand scheme of things, it was delicious, so I wasn’t too worried if someone in the Sui Dynasty would have recognized my concoction as close to their own.
The recipe I tried comes from the blog “Kitchen Swagger” by Shawn Williams. You can find the original post at https://kitchenswagger.com/hibachi-style-fried-rice-recipe/. I added extra garlic powder to my version, and I realized after starting that I was out of peas, so those ended up being left out by necessity (they’ll definitely get added next time). I also updated the directions a bit.
Hibachi-Style Fried Rice
- 1 tablespoon canola or vegetable oil
- 1/4 cup carrots diced
- 1/4 cup peas
- 1/2 cup onion diced (I used yellow)
- 2 cups white rice prepared
- 2 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
- 3 tablespoons butter or margarine
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1 egg beaten
- In a large skillet, heat the oil over medium heat and add the carrots, peas and onion. Saute them for several minutes or until the vegetables are to your desired tenderness.
- Add the rice to the skillet and stir to combine. Then add the soy sauce, butter, garlic powder and salt and pepper to the skillet and keep stirring so everything is well combined and the butter fully melts.
- For the last step, slide the rice out of the way and dump in your beaten egg, stirring constantly for a couple minutes until it’s cooked through, and stir it into the rest of the rice mixture.
We really enjoyed this, and I even made it fancy by packing the rice into a small ramekin and then upturning it onto the plates to make uniform mounds of yummy fried rice on our plates.
I also did technically pick a side on the egg debate. I once listened to a chef who said the egg should be added last, because that keeps it from getting too dry and overcooked, and I thought that made enough sense to make it my practice.
The best part about the history of fried rice, in my opinion, is that it’s really just an excuse to use up whatever you still have laying around your kitchen, so adding other veggies or even some protein is completely within the realm of possibility. In fact, a lot of people argue that day-old rice is the only way to make fried rice taste perfect.
Also, if you want to speed up this process, grab a bag of frozen peas and carrots and use that instead of having to cut up your own veggies.
And if you don’t want to make an entree to go with your fried rice, go ahead and eat it as your main dish for dinner. After doing enough research, I can tell you that the only rule with fried rice is that there really aren’t any rules.
This piece first appeared in print on May 14, 2020.
Spice Up Your Life is a weekly newspaper column written by Lindsey Young in south central Kansas and sponsored by Main Street Co. & Kitchen Corner in Newton, Kan. Visit their website at shopmainstco.com.