How to make Chinese fried rice

Rice is cholesterol, fat and sodium-free, easy to digest and ideal for gluten-allergic people. PHOTO/A KADUMUKASA KIRONDE II

What you need to know:

  • Recipe. The best fried rice is made with rice that has been cooked anywhere between one and three days prior to its being fried, writes A. Kadumukasa Kironde II.

A favourite saying in China that ushers in the New Year is “May your rice never burn!” Rice is the staple food for more than half of the world’s population, and for more than two thousand years the world over, meals have begun with a bowl of rice. While  in Buganda, a meal without matooke is considered not to have been a meal at all. 

But matooke is small potatoes compared to rice, speaking of which, how many of you know that there are more than 120,000 known varieties of rice in the world which are categorised by degree of milling, kernel size, starch content and flavor! 

Whereas the rice is usually accompanied by other staples, the meal would not have been filling or complete without the all-important addition of rice and posho. In Asian cooking the idea of the stir fries really acts as a wonderful fillip and one shudders to think of how forlorn and bland they would be otherwise. As well as being nutritious, rice is cholesterol, fat and sodium-free, easy to digest and ideal for gluten-allergic people and last but not least, a good source of fiber and vitamins. 

Stir frying rice, besides being an adaptable and accommodating cooking method, is also easy and can produce amazing results within a relatively short amount of time. One cannot overemphasise the importance of having all your ingredients cut, measured, and at hand before you begin cooking. Just about any type of meat, chicken or fish cut into small pieces can be added to cooked rice with the main caveat being that the combination of foods added must be compatible.

The tradition of fried rice has been around throughout China for donkey years and most banquets worth their salt, as a rule of thumb must include one in their offering. There is however one notable exception in China; birthday receptions and banquets where noodles generally take the place of rice because they symbolise longevity. 

The method for making fried rice is basically the same all over China, but ingredients and flavoring differ from region to region. In Guangzhou fried rice made with salted fish is the tradition. In Yangzhou, a well-known fried rice named after the city must always have barbecued pork, baby river shrimp, eggs and spring onions. On the other hand, in Shanghai, Jinhua ham is added to fried rice while in Yunnan, that province’s ham must always be included.

In each case, all fried rice begins with already cooked white rice preferably one that is not salted.  The best fried rice is made with rice that has been cooked anywhere between one and three days prior to its being fried.

Naturally, after cooking it must be kept cold and covered in the refrigerator and surprisingly the results will be markedly different than if you were using freshly made rice and all the more so if one uses long fine grain rice. The best fried rice is one that is stirred continuously while the ingredients are seamlessly added into the wok.

Basic and Simple 
Fried Rice


2 tablespoons oyster sauce
2 tablespoons light soy sauce
1 tablespoon dry sherry
1 teaspoon sugar (optional)
Salt and pepper to taste or as needed
5 cups cooked rice at room temperature 
1 cup cooked fresh green peas
5 to 6 eggs
4 ½ tablespoons vegetable oil
2 – 3 tablespoons sesame oil
Salt and pepper to taste
2 teaspoons minced garlic
2 teaspoons minced ginger
¼ cup diced shallots or onions
4 tablespoons finely chopped spring onions

1. To make the sauce: In a small bowl, mix together all of the ingredients and set aside.
2. Place the cooked rice in a bowl and using your fingers break up and lumps and reserve for later use.
3. If you are using fresh peas, pour the water into a small saucepan and bring to a boil over high heat before adding the peas and boil until they become tender. If you are using frozen peas, allow them to thaw and then drain well and reserve.
4. In a bowl, beat the eggs with a tablespoon of the vegetable oil and add a dash of salt and pepper and set aside.
5. Heat a wok over high heat for 30 seconds and add 2 tablespoons of the vegetable oil and using a spatula coat the oil into the wok. As soon as the wok is hot enough, add the beaten eggs and scramble for about two minutes until they have reached a degree of softness or about medium soft. Turn off the heat and transfer the eggs to a plate. Chop into small and coarse pieces and set aside.
6. Wash and dry the wok and the spatula. Heat the wok over high heat for about 30 seconds and add the remaining oil before adding the ginger and garlic and stir fry briefly. Add the shallots or onions and cook them until they become translucent. Add the peas and raise the heat to high and stir fry for a couple of minutes before adding the rice and stir to mix and then lower the heat to medium until the rice has become very hot. Add the sesame oil stirring until all the rice is well coated and very hot. 
7. Raise the heat to high and stir in the sauce and drizzle it over the rice. Stir constantly for a couple of minutes until the sauce is evenly coated with the sauce which should take no more than a couple of minutes. At this point add the scrambled eggs along with the spring onions and stir and mix them well making sure that all the ingredients are well blended.
8. Turn off the heat and taste and correct seasoning and transfer to a heated platter and serve hot.