This is the quick and easy recipe you need: sizzling, crispy, and slightly burnt.
Growing up in my parents’ takeout Chinese restaurant, one of the first things I learned to make was chicken fried rice. But I use the word “taught” loosely because one of my main takeaways from the cooking session was that there is no one method to create chicken fried rice. There are numerous approaches.
My family served the yellow, seasoning-infused chicken fried rice in conventional American Chinese takeout style at the restaurant. I learned a more straightforward, even more, Americanized version of chicken fried rice in home economics class. Meanwhile, our family’s handmade chicken fried rice was sweet, flavored with oyster sauce, and laden with onions. As I grew older, I became acquainted with various Asian countries’ chicken fried rice, such as Thai style, which relies primarily on the fish sauce rather than soy sauce, and Korean style, which includes a zesty burst of kimchi.
But, of all the kinds of chicken fried rice, my favorite is Japanese teppanyaki (or hibachi)-style, the type you’d have at those restaurants with the communal tables and the flat-top grill and entertainer/chef at its center. To me, crispy, smokey, and slightly burned fried rice is among the most excellent Asian food.
How to make chicken fried rice
Chicken fried rice is one of the simplest Asian dishes to master, taking only 35 minutes to prepare. Because it comes together quickly, spending a few minutes prepping before you start cooking is essential.
1. Prepare the ingredients
The best rice is cold, day-old rice. Cooked chicken, onion, and zucchini should be cut into small pieces. Put the ingredients in separate bowls and measure out the frozen vegetables.
2. Gather the right tools
A wok, 12- to 14-inch frying pan or Dutch oven with a nonstick coating is essential. You want high walls and plenty of cooking surface area. The larger the frying surface, the more smokey and crisp the rice. A standard frying pan is too little for this family-sized dish, and crowding it will cause it to steam.
A wok Chuan or other wide spatula is also required to gather, turn, and toss pieces of the fried rice mixture while it cooks.
3. Prepare the eggs
Warm your pan over medium heat, then add a canola or vegetable oil swirl. Stir quickly in a couple of large eggs to make little, fluffy curds. Place them on a platter.
4. Prepare the vegetables
Increase the heat to medium-high and add the onion, stirring constantly until it blisters. Next, quickly mix in the zucchini and then the frozen vegetables.
5. Bring the chicken and rice to a boil.
Add the chicken and rice, breaking up any clumps as you go. That curved scoop spatula comes in useful here! You can scoop up bits of the fried rice mixture and flip and toss them. When the rice has softened, press it against all available skillet surfaces, leaving a small well in the center of the mixture. Add the scrambled eggs.
6. Season and combine
Combine the butter, soy sauce, sesame seeds, and white pepper (or black pepper if you have it, and don’t mind a little extra bite). Toss everything together vigorously.
7. Fry the rice until it is crunchy.
Finally, turn up the heat to high and push the rice mixture into the pot’s heated floor. Allow it to crisp for 1-2 minutes without stirring. Repeat in parts until pieces are lightly browned and crispy. Toss with a bit more rice vinegar. Continue to stir-fry and crush the fried rice until it reaches the desired level of char and crispness.
Q&A about chicken fried rice
Once you learn the principles, making the best chicken fried rice at home is straightforward.
What exactly is chicken fried rice?
This comforting stir-fry can take many forms, but all chicken fried rice recipes include pre-cooked rice, a generally soy-based sauce, eggs, aromatics and veggies, and chopped or sliced chicken.
Cooking chicken for chicken fried rice
One thing that makes chicken fried rice so simple and inexpensive is that practically any type of cooked chicken may be used, including leftover roasted or grilled chicken breast or thigh, as well as store-bought rotisserie chicken, which adds its own rich taste.
Seasoning Chicken Fried Rice
Seasonings vary, but soy sauce adds saltiness, and rice wine vinegar adds acidity. I prefer to serve chicken fried rice with toasted sesame oil and chili crisp for added flavor.
What goes well with chicken fried rice?
This one-bowl dinner can be served as is or with a veggie stir-fry or light soup. Serve the fried rice alongside another protein or saucy meal as a side dish.
How to Keep Chicken Fried Rice Fresh
Allow any leftovers to cool before refrigerating them for up to 2 days.
Chicken Fried Rice Ingredients
Chicken fried rice is a flexible and cost-effective recipe. Here’s where to begin with hibachi.
- Rice that has been cooked. White rice (jasmine rice or Calrose) or brown rice, ideally long-grain rice, can be used, but the finest “variety” is cold, leftover rice. Chilling cooked rice allows the structure to tighten again and crisp up instead of steaming, becoming mushy, and sticking in the pan.
- Chicken. Any cooked leftover boneless, skinless chicken or rotisserie chicken would suffice.
- Eggs. Eggs give a soft texture as well as flavor.
- Vegetables. Hibachi fried rice can be very salty. The flavor is balanced with natural sweetness by including chopped veggies (here, zucchini plus frozen peas, carrots, maize, and caramelized onion). Use small broccoli florets or sliced cabbage to add more texture and complexity.
- Oil and butter. Because chicken fried rice is often made with lean components, fat is used to crisp up the rice and add richness.
- Soy sauce. This essential Asian ingredient provides the flavor foundation of this chicken fried rice style. I prefer regular soy sauce, but you could use low-sodium or gluten-free tamari.
- Vinegar of rice. Chicken fried rice is brightened with a touch of acid.
Learn more: How to Make Fantastic French Toast