Wednesday, September 15, 2021

Frying Up Rice in a Wok.

When I wrote up my article about Hoisin sauce, I promised to also share a recipe for making Fried Rice.  Fried rice is exactly as named, the rice, whether cooked or raw, is “toasted” or fried up in oil before mixing in additional ingredients.  The rich brown color though comes from the addition of soy sauce which flavors as well.

The origin of this dish dates back to the Sui dynasty (589–618 CE), of course being cooked in a traditional Chinese cooking pot, or the Wok.  There are many advantages of cooking with a Wok, and the primary ones are: #1 – Quick, #2 – Easy.  The Wok is a deep pan with a rounded bottom and slanted sides; usually made of stainless steel, aluminum or cast iron.  The metal, while hot, is continuously rolled and pounded out to the desired depth, width and shape.  The shape of this pan allows one to cook food at high, evenly distributed, heat with very little oil.  Besides the traditional stir fry method, Woks can be used to stew, braise, steam or deep fry.  Depending on the dishes you intend to create, a meal can be prepped and cooked in about 30 minutes if using a Wok.

Back to fried rice’s origin which was a simple question of, “What to do with leftovers?”  Leftover rice, meat and vegetables from the day before are still edible, have lost some flavor, but are too good to throw away, or feed to livestock.  Wok-ing them up, adding soy sauce, garlic, ginger, scallions reawakens those flavors, and creates an entirely new meal to enjoy.

Do you need to purchase a Wok to create Asian cuisine?  Of course not; a standard skillet will work just as well; as will everyday kitchen utensils.  However, if you are feeling the creativity bug bite, well, scratch the itch, and get yourself a complete Wok set.  When I said Asian cuisine, I meant it!  Woks can be used to create Japanese dishes, such as tempura (to die for!), Thai, Indonesian, Korean, and even Indian recipes such as curry; it is not just for Chinese recipes.


Fried Rice


2 Tbsp. canola oil if using Wok; 4 Tbsp. for skillet

3 cups uncooked long grain rice

¼ cups each diced onion, bell peppers (red, green, yellow combined)

1 (12 oz.) package frozen peas and carrots, thawed

1 cup soy sauce

5 cups water

½ tsp ground black pepper

1 tsp ground ginger


Heat oil, on high heat, in Wok or skillet; add rice, onion and bell peppers and “toast” the rice for 5 minutes.

Saute' Chicken; Set Aside to Add Later.


Add remaining ingredients, bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to low, cover and cook for 20 minutes.   Turn off heat, uncover, and allow to rest for 5 minutes before fluffing up with a fork.  If adding any cooked, chopped protein (2 lbs.), carefully add in to not make clumps, or serve rice as a side to the protein.  Want a complete vegetarian meal; add grilled vegetables or tofu.

Completed Fried Rice; Chicken Added In.


Makes 6-8 servings

Note:  2 eggs, cooked scrambled, can be mixed in after rice has completely cooked.

Now this is a simplified recipe and can be adjusted to include other seasonings, such as chili flakes and/or garlic.  If adding a protein, season up the pieces that are being precooked, and their flavoring will meld with, and enhance, the fried rice.  For example, when I use chicken, I season the pieces with a little sea salt, ground black pepper and paprika.  It turns the chicken from bland to wow, and the paprika will give a little smokiness to the flavor, like hoisin sauce would do.  Mix in chopped and steamed, or grilled, broccoli and it is a whole new view of a favorite take-out dish, chicken and broccoli.

If using precooked rice, the water part, plus half the soy sauce, will be skipped.  Instead of letting the rice cook for 20 minutes, first add the rice (6 cups cooked), onion and bell peppers to the oil and keep it moving around the Wok, or skillet.  The rice and vegetables will begin to fry up, but you do not want to burn any of it.  5-7 minutes until the oil is absorbed, and the rice looks like it will begin to dry out.  Add in the peas and carrots, ½ cup soy sauce, black pepper and ginger, and keep it moving for another 5-7 minutes, or until the rice and vegetables are uniformly hot.  If you want the color of the rice to be darker, add, one tablespoon at a time, more soy sauce until it is the color you desire.  But keep it moving, as burnt rice is bitter!

Mary Cokenour

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