So. I really, really love fried rice, particularly Thai style. It’s greasy, spicy and loaded with different flavors. I’ve spend years–literally, years–developing this recipe with the goal of creating the perfect fried rice. This includes watching tutorial after tutorial on YouTube, many visits to the oriental market, and once I even called in to a Thai restaurant to ask if they used a certain spice because I was allergic to it. But really, I just wanted to know if they used it. Too far?
Lots of people might think “what’s the big deal? Just toss some rice and soy sauce together and call it good.” Oh, no. No no no. Making quality fried rice is a complicated process that requires preparation, methodology and no cutting corners. The cooking process is really quick–about 10 minutes–but technique, order, and quality of ingredients are key if you want it to taste right.
Today, I chose to use shrimp and imitation crab meat as the main ingredients. Really, you can use anything–chicken, pork, steak, tofu. Just add it to the wok after the garlic/peppers and before the onions. Also, use whatever veggies you want–diced tomato, basil, peas and carrots, sliced bell peppers, mushrooms. Just make sure to add in the veggies in order of how long they require cooking. Example: If you are using onions, tomato and mushrooms, add the onions first, then mushrooms, and then tomato, since onions take the longest and tomatoes just need a couple seconds.
Some tips before we start:
- Always use a metal wok and spatula. A Teflon pan just won’t get you the same results because it just won’t get hot enough. My wok is literally over 30 years old, but it’s still going strong! Also, an electric stove just won’t work–you definitely need to cook over a flame.
- Buy a good soy sauce at an oriental market. The stuff at the grocery store just tastes like salt, and will completely spoil the flavor. My favorite is dark mushroom flavored soy sauce.
- Cook your rice a day ahead of time and store it in the fridge. Day old rice is dry and loose, and won’t be mushy. If you forget this step, like I do, a couple hours in the fridge is good enough.
- Use an oil with a high smoking point–peanut or canola oil work the best.
- Do your self a favor and do not smell the fish sauce. Let’s just say the smell will probably make you want to pour it down the drain. Although it’s rank, adding a little bit to Asian dishes really brings out the flavors. It’s used in every Thai dish you’ve ever eaten.
- Have all your ingredients measured out, chopped, minced, opened and lined up within arm’s reach. Woks cook food incredibly quickly, and if you aren’t prepared, the cooking process can be extremely stressful.
- During the cooking process, never stop moving and tossing the ingredients around the wok, to ensure everything cooks evenly without burning. If ingredients are sticking, add a little more oil and scrape the side of the wok so it doesn’t burn.
Add soy sauce, then fish sauce, then sugar and sesame oil, a squirt of Sriracha, and throw in the chopped scallions at the end.
Serve hot, with slices of lime and an over easy egg. Try to eat it with chop sticks. When my hand cramps up, I usually admit defeat and switch to a fork halfway through.
Tasty Fresh Fried Rice
Serves 2, cook time 30 minutes
- 2-3 tablespoons peanut oil
- 2 cloves garlic, minced fine
- 1-2 Thai chili peppers, minced fine
- 3 eggs
- 1/2 sweet onion, diced or sliced
- 1 package imitation crab meat, broken into chunks
- 10-12 frozen cooked shrimp, thawed and dried
- 2 cups cooked, day-old jasmine rice
- Pepper to taste
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 2 tablespoons quality soy sauce
- 1/2 teaspoon fish sauce
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 1 teaspoon sesame oil
- 1 generous squirt Sriracha hot sauce, to taste
- 6 scallions, chopped
- Lime slices for garnish
- Wash, dry, chop, mince, open and measure all ingredients. Set them up in order on the counter top next to the stove. Loosen any clumps in the rice.
- Turn the burner on high, and add peanut oil to the wok. When the oil starts to sizzle, add the minced garlic and chili pepper. Using your metal spatula, continuously and vigorously move the garlic and pepper around the bottom of the wok until the garlic starts to brown. If the oil is hot enough, this will only take a few seconds. Be careful here, there’s a very small window between browned and burned.
- Add in the eggs. Scramble until dry.
- Add in the sliced onions. Toss around the wok until caramelized–about 2.5 minutes.
- Add in the imitation crab chunks and shrimp. Toss around until heated and coated in oil, about 1 minute.
- Add in the rice, pepper and butter. Toss with your spatula until the grains are evenly coated, about 2 minutes.
- Add in soy sauce. Continue to toss the mixture around for another minute, until the soy sauce is evenly distributed in the rice. Add more if the color is too light.
- Add fish sauce and sugar. Stir and cook another minute.
- Add sesame oil and Sriracha. Stir and cook for another minute.
- Add in chopped scallions. Serve hot with lime slices and an over easy egg (optional).