Special fried rice. House fried rice. Loaded fried rice. With all kinds of stuff. Crazy delicious fried rice. That’s what this one is all about.
This a fun dish. More of a main course than a side. Could be dinner. There’s enough stuff in it. But I like it as part of a bigger menu. Another flashy dish on the table.
What is special fried rice anyway?
I looked for a definition. I failed. It’s a catch all name. For fried rice with whatever anyone wants to put in.
As long as there’s a bunch of different ingredients it qualified as special. My guess. It was invented in a Chinese restaurant as a way to charge more.
“We have fried rice with egg. Chicken. Pork. Shrimp. Vegetables.”
“And sometimes we just chuck a bit of everything into the wok and charge an extra five bucks. Profits are up. It’s great.”
Pretty sure that’s how it went down. But I’m just guessing here.
I actually don’t have a clue how it got the name. I just like making up vaguely credible theories. It’s fun. Never take this blog too seriously…
It starts with chicken stock and day old rice
One thing you should take seriously when you make this is the rice. It’s in the name of the dish. That should be a dead giveaway.
Day old rice. That’s what you want. Today’s rice? Not good. Yesterday’s rice? Perfect. And dry is better. I leave mine in the fridge loosely covered. Works great.
This dish also has special in the name. So it needs something special. A little something extra.
That something is chicken stock. Instead of water. To cook the rice. A little bit of wonderful.
Chicken stock is not bouillon cubes. That’s important. They are not the same thing. Although in this case that probably works too. Haven’t tried it so I’m not stating fact.
If you do try bouillon cubes be careful. Leave out the salt. And have a light hand on the bouillon. There’s no fixing too salty.
You get to choose what goes into your special fried rice
There are no rules when it comes to ingredients. Except day old rice. That’s important.
I like char siu. And chicken. And egg. Green onion. Garlic. Soy. And a little bit of sesame oil. That’s a lot of stuff. Makes it pretty special I think.
What I don’t like is peas and carrots. I’m with Uncle Roger on this one. Except I don’t hate vegetables. I just don’t want them in my fried rice.
But it’s your house. Which makes it your house fried rice. Do what works for you. What makes you smile.
Want shrimp and vegetables? Go for it. Can’t get char siu? Leave it out. Cooking is supposed to be fun. Not a chore. So make what you love. And smile.
Technique does matter
There’s no way around it. You want to talk the talk? You need to walk the walk. So you need to stir fry rice.
That sounds obvious. And if you already know it then skip this section. It doesn’t apply to you.
Good fried rice is a little toothy. Not mushy. Not hard but ever so slightly firm to the bite. And the only way you can get that is to stir fry your rice.
It’s not hard. A bit monotonous though. Because you don’t have the firepower of the Chinese takeaway.
So you have to go at it a bit longer. Depends what your stove can do. Anywhere between three and five minutes. Of pretty much constant work.
You want to keep the rice moving in the wok. If you don’t you’ll make soccarat. Good in paella. Bad in fried rice. No crispy brown bits please. That’s not special.
Seems there’s another rule. Stir fry your rice constantly. That’s important too.
Choice of soy
I stock a couple Chinese soy sauces. Three if you count all-purpose. But I don’t use all purpose a lot. I use light. And I use dark.
I also stock two Japanese and a couple Thai soy sauces. I’m a little crazy when it comes to soy.
All soy sauces are not created equal. It’s kind of amazing how different they are. Do a soy tasting some time. You’ll see.
Chinese light soy is the general purpose soy in my kitchen. When I’m cooking Chinese dishes that is.
Dark soy is a little richer. But the big difference is the colour. Dark soy is what gives dishes that deep, dark colour.
I use dark soy for most fried rice dishes. I like the colour. But for this one I like the rice a little less intensely coloured.
No real reason behind this. Personal preference. But I can’t quite make the leap to the colour I get with just light soy.
So I add a few drops of dark. Because I can. Because it looks right to me. If you have dark soy and you like the colour in the pics then use it. Just a little bit.
If you don’t care just leave it out. It really is personal preference. But do yourself a favour. Use a Chinese soy. There’s a difference.
This isn’t just for special occasions
This is serious fried rice. Over the top. Meal in a bowl. Which makes it perfect for dinner on a Tuesday night. Any night really. Special or not.
But it’s also pretty flashy as part of a larger meal. Something that can go head to head with other flashy dishes. Like the char siu ribs I bet you are eyeing in the pictures.
Special fried rice is right for every occasion. You know what they say. Better to be overdressed than underdressed.
Have fun making special fried rice
Bottom line. Have fun with this one. Make it your own. The technique matters. The ingredients matter less.
Just follow your heart. Or your tastebuds. Or what’s in your fridge. What matters is that you make something that makes you happy. Always.
You can do it any day of the week. Seriously. It’s no big deal.
Special fried rice. Feel special on a Tuesday. And again on Thursday. And then with your friends on Saturday.
Special fried rice
Day old special rice
- 1 cup jasmine rice
- 1 1/4 cup no sodium chicken broth
- 1/2 tsp kosher salt – about half as much table salt. No salt if you are using bouillon
Special fried rice
- the day old rice
- 2 tbsp neutral oil – vegetable, canola etc
- 1 tsp crushed garlic
- 4 ounces chicken thighs finely diced
- 4 ounces char siu finely sliced – get this at a Chinese grocer
- 1 egg – beaten until the colour is homogenous (that's a fancy way of saying all the same)
- 1 tsp light soy
- a few drops of dark soy – for colour (optional)
- 1/2 tsp monosodium glutamate
- 2 green onions – thinly sliced. Whites and greens divided
- 1/2 tsp sesame oil
Make the rice
- Combine the rice, stock and salt in a saucepan with a tight fitting lid.
- Bring the contents of the pot to a lively simmer. Turn the heat down to low and cover.
- Cook the rice for 12 minutes. Turn off the heat and let stand for 5 minutes. Ten minutes is better if you can afford the time. Fluff gently.
- Now the hard part. Take that wonderfully fragrant rice and transfer it to a container. Cover loosely and put it in the fridge until tomorrow. Yes, I know that sucks, especially if you're hungry…
Make special fried rice
- It's the next day right? Good. Heat your wok over medium high heat until it starts to smoke.
- Add the oil. Swirl it around the wok. Add the diced chicken and stir fry until the chicken is done. If your pieces are small this should take about a minute. Remove the chicken and set aside.
- There should still be a lot of oil in the pan. Add the beaten egg. It should balloon around the edge immediately if you have the heat high enough. Scramble the egg. Try to break it up into little pieces.
- Add the crushed garlic and the white part of the green onions. Stir fry for about 20 seconds then add the char siu and continue to stir for about 10-15 seconds to warm it through.
- Add the rice, soy, the chicken you cooked and MSG. You can leave the MSG out if you want. Won't be quite the same but do what's right for you.
- Turn the heat up to max. Stir fry the rice. That means move it around constantly. By constantly I mean constantly. No breaks. Do somewhere between 3 to 5 minutes. The exact time depends on the wok you choose and the output of your stove.
- The rice is done when it is ever so slightly toothy and pretty dry. Like you get at your local Chinese restaurant. Assuming your local Chinese restaurant knows how to fry rice.
- Add the finely chopped green part of the green onions and stir to combine. Serve. Feel special.