As long as I can remember I’ve loved Chinese food. Unfortunately most of the Chinese food you find at restaurants is full of highly processed oils, MSG, and other not-so-good for you ingredients.
Thankfully I know a little something about cooking Chinese food from scratch. You see when I was in graduate school I decided to take Chinese cooking lessons. Although I was knee-deep in studying at the time, I needed a creative outlet. I had always enjoyed cooking and was pretty comfortable in the kitchen. So when I found a little Chinese grocery store whose owner also taught cooking lessons at night, I jumped at the chance to learn from an expert!
My teacher’s name was Lan, and boy was she full of interesting stories. One of her little anecdotes that stuck with me over the years was about chopping green onions. Apparently Chinese women would judge a future daughter-in-law by how she cut the root tips off green onions. If a young woman cut very close to the roots, she was viewed as frugal and a worthy spouse for her son. But if too much of the green onion was thrown out with the roots, then the future daughter-in-law was seen as a spendthrift. So as silly as it may seem, I always try to cut my green onions as close to the roots as possible so I’m not wasteful. 🙂
Anyway, of the three dozen or so Chinese dishes I learned to cook, this fried rice recipe has been the one that I’ve made the most over the years. My son, Ben, absolutely loves it! And although I’ve modified the recipe to make it less processed, it still tastes amazing and comes together pretty quickly.
One of the biggest changes I made to the recipe was switching out white rice for brown. In the early days of making this swap I was a little frustrated thanks to mushy, soft brown rice. So, I went on a mission to perfect an easy way to cook up firm yet tender brown rice. If you’re looking for a way to make this dish spectacular, please learn from my mistakes and use my foolproof brown rice as the base for this Chicken Fried Rice recipe. It really does make a difference!
Also, be sure to check out the notes in the recipe as well as the tips and resources section below for some suggestions on perfecting this recipe for your tastes, cooking utensils, and ingredients. 🙂
And with that, let’s get cooking. I hope you enjoy this delicious meal with your family!
Chicken Fried Rice
- 3 tablespoons oil
- 1/2 pound chicken boneless, chopped into small, bite-sized pieces or strips
- 1 egg
- 3 1/2 cups cooked brown long grain rice
- 3 tablespoons soy sauce
- 1/2 teaspoon white pepper
- 2 green onions chopped (reserve half for garnish)
- 1/2 medium onion chopped
- 1/2 cup peas
- 1/2 cup carrots chopped
- 1 cup fresh bean sprouts optional
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce
- 1 tablespoons rice wine rice vinegar, or white wine
- 1/2 tablespoon tapioca starch arrowroot, or cornstarch
- Cook brown rice and cool. I usually make mine the night before.
- Mix together marinade in a bowl.
- Chop chicken and add to marinade. Mix and coat chicken completely. Let marinate for at least 30 minutes.
- Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in wok. Stir-fry chicken for 3-4 minutes or until cooked. Remove from wok and set aside.
- Beat egg. Add 1/2 tablespoon of oil to the empty wok you just cooked your chicken in. Stir in beaten egg and scramble. Break into small pieces and when cooked, remove and set aside on the same plate with your cooked chicken.
- Heat 1 1/2 tablespoons of oil in the same wok. Add onions and stir-fry until translucent. Add half the green onions, carrots, and peas and cook for about 3 minutes.
- Add rice and stir until the rice is separated and thoroughly heated.
- Add soy sauce and white pepper. Mix well. Finally add in the cooked egg, chicken, and bean sprouts (optional). Stir until well blended.
- Serve and garnish with remaining green onions.
Kitchen Tips and Resources:
- I’ve used both the classic carbon steel wok and my stainless steel one for making fried rice. If you’re good about keeping pots seasoned, I think the carbon steel wok works best, and the recipe will need a little less oil. That said, if you’re not into seasoning cookware (or buying another piece of cookware), a stainless steel wok or a large 8-quart sauce pot will also work.
- Wooden spatulas and spoons perform well when stir-frying vegetables, but if you’ve ever tried a wok spatula, you’ll never want to go back—especially if you’re using a wok. I absolutely love mine!
- I prefer using an organic, naturally-fermented soy sauce for my Chinese cooking. Ohsawa Organic Nama Shoyu is a great choice that you can find online and in many natural food co-ops.
- Avocado oil tastes wonderful and is a perfect, high-heat oil for cooking up fried rice.
Recipe looks good. I would like to know how hot you make your wok, especially when you put your rice in. My favorite fried recipes in restaurants has the rice really fried, though a little dried out sometimes.
I would also like to throw out there that MSG is not conclusively a bad thing. Some people seem to be sensitive to it, but I like it’s flavor. Maybe you could look into the latest research and do a blog post on it. There are additives to table salt, too (iodine and anti-caking agents). I just hope that with your food knowledge you aren’t just jumping on the MSG bashing bandwagon. And I have read a lot lately that seems to support that it’s harmful effects are not scientifically backed.
Enjoy the blog. Thanks.
I cook on a gas stove and I use a medium high setting. I usually recommend folks start off cooking this fried rice at a medium setting until they’ve done it a few times because if you use a medium-high heat, you really need to keep things moving and there’s no time for hesitation. Sounds like you have some experience though, so I’d suggest using a medium high heat setting. And if you’re looking for the dried slightly crunchy texture for the rice, just don’t over stir the rice. Once you’ve got it thoroughly mixed together, let the rice sit for 30 seconds or so to crisp some of the grains. Do that 2-3 times and you should get the texture you’re looking for.
Thanks also for your comment about MSG. I’ve actually been planning to post a piece I wrote this summer about MSG so please stay tuned. Here’s a my quick two cents on it. I don’t believe a lot of the MSG poison / toxin hype that a lot of folks spew. That said I think MSG additives are used as cheap ways to add flavor to processed foods, and I try to avoid them. I’d much rather opt for glutamates that occur naturally in fermented foods to bring that flavor to my food. Furthermore, I think our overuse of MSG additives has made us crave this flavor more and become more addicted to the foods it’s used in—much the same as added sugars have been used / abused in processed foods.
Thanks again for your comment and for visiting my site!
OMG…made this for the family last night and it was sooo very good. Great to have an option other than takeout for fried rice!
Love your recipes, Bruce! Thx.
Glad you enjoyed it, J! Always makes me smile when I hear I’ve helped families out with a real meal option!