Here's a step-by-step guide on how to make quick, easy, and delicious fried rice at a moment's notice. Grace Young calls this recipe "lazy man's fried rice." She says it's her go-to dish whenever dinnertime arrives and she's gotten so distracted with work that she forgot to cook anything.
The key to good fried rice is having cold day-old rice in the fridge: not only does this mean the stir-fry comes together in a snap but it guarantees fried rice with the perfect chewy-tender texture. Grace says she makes double the rice she needs whenever she makes it so she always has some left over in the fridge for this recipe. Be sure to fluff the rice as soon as it's cooked and before storing it, or else the rice tends to solidify into a block. You can also halve the recipe if you don't have quite as much rice as called for here.Keep tasting the dish as you cook. You're not looking for a crust or a particular color on the rice. It's done as soon as it tastes good to you. Dish it out and settle in: a bowl of this fried rice is a deeply comforting thing.
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on wok cooking and stir-fry basics:
How To Stir-Fry Chicken
How To Stir-Fry Vegetables
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Fried RiceServes 4
Recipe from Grace Young, author of Stir-Frying to the Sky's Edge
What You Need
2 tablespoons minced ginger
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 cup diced carrots
1 cup fresh or frozen corn kernels, defrosted
1/2 cup fresh or frozen peas, defrosted
1/2 cup chopped scallions
For the rice
2 tablespoons grapeseed, canola, or peanut or vegetable oil
4 cups cold cooked rice
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground white pepper
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 large egg, beaten
1/4 cup toasted pine nuts, almonds, peanuts, or cashews
2 tablespoons minced cilantro (optional)
A 14-inch flat-bottom carbon steel wok
A fish spatula or other thin, flexible spatula for stir frying
1. Cut Up the Ingredients: The most important key to making a good stir-fry is cutting each ingredient to a uniform size as specified above. Cut the aromatics as directed and set them aside in a bowl. Finely slice, then mince, the ginger. Don't grate it on a grater. Cut the vegetables and set them aside as well.
Optional Step - Egg Pancake: There are several ways of adding egg to your finished fried rice. You can simply cook in the beaten egg at the end of cooking, or you can make an egg pancake. To do this, heat the wok and add 1 teaspoon of oil. Swirl in the oil to coat the bottom of the wok. Add a beaten egg and tilt the wok so that the egg covers the surface like a crepe. Cook the pancake about 30 seconds to a minute until it's just set. Use a metal spatula and flip the pancake and cook for 5 seconds or until set. Cut into small strips and add to fried rice near the end of cooking.
2. Prepare Your Wok Space: Set the bowls of vegetables, aromatics, rice, and soy sauce near your stove. Also, have a very small bowl of water next to the stove.
3. Heat the Wok: Turn on a stove burner, as high as it will go. Set a 14-inch wok over this high heat burner. To determine when the wok is hot enough, start flicking droplets of water from the small bowl into the pan after 30 seconds. As soon as a bead of water evaporates within 1 to 2 seconds of contact, the wok is heated and ready for stir-frying. Do not overheat the wok.
4. Pull Wok off the Heat and Add Oil, Then Stir-Fry Aromatics: Pull the wok off the heat and add 1 tablespoon of oil. Pick up the pan and carefully swirl it to coat the bottom and sides. (If the wok smokes wildly the moment you add the oil you've overheated the wok. Remove the wok from the heat and let it cool for a few minutes. When it's cool enough to handle carefully remove the oil with paper towels, wash the wok, and start again.)
With the wok back over the heat, add the ginger and red pepper flakes and stir fry for 10 seconds or until fragrant.
5. Add the Carrots and Stir-Fry: Add the carrots and stir fry for 30 seconds, or until the carrots are bright orange.
6. Add the Corn and Peas and Stir-Fry: Add the corn and peas and stir fry for 1 minute.
7. Add 1 More Tablespoon Oil: Swirl the remaining tablespoon of oil into the wok.
8. Add the Rice and Scallions and Stir-Fry for 2 Minutes: Add the rice and scallions stir-fry for 2 minutes, breaking up the rice with the spatula until it is heated through.
9. Season the Rice: Season the rice with the salt and white pepper.
10. Add the Sauce: Pour the soy sauce around the edges of the wok and stir-fry.
11. Finish the Rice: Add the chopped egg pancake and pine nuts. Toss to combine. Alternatively, you can stir in 1 beaten egg. Stir-fry until the egg is no longer wet. Stir in the cilantro.
• Stir-Fried Rice in a 12-inch Skillet: If you are cooking in a 12-inch stainless steel skillet, halve the recipe to prevent rice from falling out of the pan
• Using Fresh Rice: This recipe is best with day-old rice. But if the craving hits and you don't have any prepared rice, you can make fresh rice, spread it out on a sheet pan, and refrigerate to cool.
• Substituting Other Vegetables: Substitute up to 2 1/2 cups of vegetables in place of the carrots, frozen corn, and frozen peas. Leftover meat (shredded or diced small) can also be added.
Now that you're done, clean your wok!
How To Clean a Carbon Steel Wok
More From Grace Young
Visit Grace's Website
• Grace Young.com
Find Grace's Books
• Stir-Frying to the Sky's Edge: The Ultimate Guide to Mastery, with Authentic Recipes and Stories
• The Breath of a Wok: Unlocking the Spirit of Chinese Wok Cooking Through Recipes and Lore
• The Wisdom of the Chinese Kitchen: Classic Family Recipes for Celebration and Healing
Want to Learn More About Wok Cooking?
• Join Wok Wednesdays, a group of enthusiastic cooks working their way through Grace's book, Stir-Frying to the Sky's Edge
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(Images: Faith Durand)