It takes more than soy sauce to make a proper Chinese Fried Rice, just like what you get at Chinese restaurants. I learnt how to make proper Chinese Fried Rice from Australia’s most well known Chinese chef, Kylie Kwong!
The first thing some might notice is that there’s bacon in this Fried Rice. “That’s not authentic!”, you may be thinking.
And that’s true. Authentic Chinese restaurants make Fried Rice with Chinese Sausage. I’m betting that the vast majority of readers have never bought or cooked Chinese Sausage before.
But you know what? Kylie Kwong says bacon is ok. In fact, it’s the alternative in her recipe to Chinese Sausage. And as someone who has bought, cooked and eaten Chinese Sausage, I can assure you that bacon brings a very similar salty / oily / meaty pop to fried rice.
And as someone who has eaten a lot of fried rice in her time, here in Sydney, in China, Hong Kong, the US and London, I can also tell you that I’ve seen a fair share of fried rice made with bacon and even with ham!
So this recipe I have for you today is not so much about exactly what should be in the Fried Rice. Because even in China, and certainly in Chinese restaurants around the world, it’s clear that there are no hard and fast rules about what should be in a fried rice.
However! And there is a big “however”. While I give much concession to the additions, the thing you cannot skimp on is the sauce! The sauce has to be right – and it isn’t just soy sauce and chicken broth!
So here are my
10 8 commandments for making a great (proper!) Fried Rice. (I really wanted to say 10, but I can only think of 8 key ones.)
No chicken broth / stock. This adds moisture to the rice which goes against the very core of what the texture of fried rice should be. Unless you’re trying to make Stewed Rice, not Fried Rice … 🤔
Day old rice is best. Fried rice is not meant to be sticky and the only way to achieve that is with cooked rice that’s been refrigerated overnight. If you don’t have day old rice, you can cook rice, spread it on a tray then refrigerate to speed up the process (about 1 1/2 hours). Or keep bags of cooked rice in the freezer – that’s what I do!
Chinese cooking wine is key. It’s the secret ingredient that makes this into a fried rice that really does taste like what you get in restaurants.
High heat. Get that wok or skillet stinking hot and cook it hard and fast!
Get everything prepared. Once you start cooking, it comes together fast. So have everything lined up and ready to throw into the wok!
Keep it moving! Stir fry, stir fry, stir fry! Don’t let your ingredients sit still for a second!
Don’t overcrowd. Even in a large home wok, 4 cups of rice is the max. Unless, as with #1, you are trying to make Stewed Rice.
Char flavour is authentic. Next time you get takeout, notice how the fried rice has a distinct mild char flavour. That’s the real deal! So don’t stress if you get burnt bits!
This recipe that I’m sharing with you today is how I make it as a usual midweek meal, hence why it has bacon in it rather than Chinese sausage. I swap out the prawns for whatever other proteins I have on hand, or leave it out. I’ve also been known to increase the veggies in this – and for a super speedy version, to even use frozen diced veggies. If you substantially increase the veggies, reduce the quantity of rice, otherwise there won’t be enough sauce.
Really, other than the rice, the cooking technique and the sauce, feel free to substitute the other ingredients for whatever you want. That’s the beauty of fried rice – it’s so flexible! – Nagi x
Chinese Fried Rice with Shrimp / Prawns
- 3 tbsp peanut oil (or vegetable), separated
- 2 eggs , lightly beaten
- 3/4 cup bacon , excess fat trimmed, chopped (or 1/2 cup Chinese Sausage) (Note 1)
- 2 garlic cloves , minced
- 3 tsp ginger , minced or very finely chopped
- 1/2 onion , finely chopped (about 3/4 cup) (brown, white or yellow)
- 1 tbsp Chinese cooking wine or dry sherry (or sake, Japanese cooking wine) (Note 2)
- 1/2 tsp sugar
- 5 oz/150g small shrimp/prawns , cooked and peeled (Note 3)
- 3 cups cooked long grain white rice , refrigerated overnight (Note 4)
- 3 scallions , thinly sliced
- 1 tbsp Oyster Sauce
- 1 1/2 tbsp soy sauce (all purpose or light) (Note 3)
- 1/2 tsp sesame oil (roasted – i.e. dark colour)
Mix together Sauce ingredients, set aside.
Heat 1 tbsp oil in a wok (or heavy based skillet/fry pan) over medium heat. Add eggs and cook until scrambled, then remove onto plate.
Increase heat to high and add bacon. Cook until golden, then remove onto plate with egg – about 2 minutes.
Drain off excess bacon fat.
Add remaining 2 tbsp oil, garlic and ginger. (Note 5) Return wok to stove on high heat. Stir fry as it comes up to heat, don’t let it burn. When garlic starts to sizzle, add onion and stir fry for 2 minutes until golden.
Add Chinese wine and sugar and let it simmer rapidly, stirring, for 20 seconds, until mostly evaporated.
Add prawns/shrimp and stir fry for 1 minute to heat through (if pre-cooked, cook longer to cook if raw).
Add rice, Sauce, eggs, bacon and all but 2 tbsp of shallots/scallions. Stir fry for 2 minutes until rice is hot – around 2 minutes.
Transfer to serving plate, sprinkle with remaining scallions and serve.
2. The Chinese cooking wine is key to this recipe. You can substitute with dry sherry for Japanese cooking sake. If you can’t consume alcohol, as a last resort, substitute with chicken broth/chicken stock.
3. Ordinarily whenever I cook shrimp/prawns, I use fresh raw ones I peel myself. This is one of the rare occasions when I buy already cooked and peeled prawns – because the best ones to use are small prawns and they are a PAIN to peel myself! Cooked prawns, at least in Australia, from good fish mongers are really great quality because they are often cooked on the fishing boat the minute they are caught. Now THAT’s fresh cooking!
4. Please ensure you use day old or at least refrigerator cold freshly cooked rice – this is key! If making this with freshly cooked rice, spread it out on a baking tray then refrigerate until cold.
Long grain rice is the authentic rice to use for fried rice. Medium grain will be ok but will be a bit stickier. Short grain rice, risotto, basmati or jasmine rice are not suitable. Brown rice will be ok but will have a nutty flavour from the rice.
3 cups may not sound like a lot of rice but once you stir fry it, it fluffs up and makes lots more than you expect!
5. You can use light soy sauce or all purpose soy sauce. Dark soy sauce is not suitable for this recipe.
6. This Chinese Fried Rice recipe is based on this recipe by Kylie Kwong, Australia’s most well known Chinese Chef. Here are the amendments I made:
i) Scaled the recipe down – her idea of a “large wok” is much larger than mine (about 30cm/1 foot diameter);
ii) Her original recipe uses Chinese Sausage and she recommends bacon as a substitute and that’s what I usually use, though Chinese Sausage is available in vacuum sealed packets in Asian section of large supermarkets.
ii) I added prawns.
7. This makes enough for 3 as a main or 5 as a side as part of a multi-course meal.
8. Nutrition per serving, assuming 3 servings as a main. Assuming 5 servings as a side: 313 calories.
Just another day in the Hard Life of Dozer – starting with breakfast at The Boathouse in Palm Beach, Sydney. For visitors to Australia, this is a MUST VISIT!!