What you’re about to read will not shock you. It will not change your life. But maybe it will offer a new or different way of making fried rice! It’s a favorite of my family and I thought I would share it so others could enjoy it, too. I would also love to hear of your own variations to this simple yet tasty dish.
I became fascinated with fried rice when my dad made wienies and fried rice for me as a kid. It was a hearty, satisfying, tasty meal that pretty much involved seemingly two ingredients – hot dogs sliced up into diagonal pieces and rice all cooked up in a skillet. The wiener goodness would mix with the rice and would taste so good. I think my dad added a little oil to the pan to make it fry better but that oil would penetrate the rice and give it a slightly buttery taste.
But fried rice was elevated to another level when we ate at Sakura Chaya in Fresno. Watching these hibachi artisans cook up a bowl of tasty fried rice was fascinating and I’d eat every last bite – and then some. Everyone in our family loved it, especially Cassie, so I started watching and taking mental notes about how they did it. The key seemed to be seasoning salt and butter. Yummy butter. The other ingredients complimented it and varied the flavor, but the key to good fried rice was seasoning and butter. And really good soy sauce. But you can classify that under seasoning.
The list of ingredients is simple. It’s really how you mix them that makes a difference.
3 uncooked cups of rice (by “cups” I mean the little cup that comes with your rice cooker. They are about one full cup each)
Kikkoman Gluten-Free Soy Sauce – I love this particular brand because it’s not as dense as Tamari but has an even more impacted umami flavor than regular soy sauce.
Thick-cut bacon – We use Wellshire which I love. Personally, I think this is the best brand because it has a nice thickness and the meat is flavorful without artificial additives. Good bacon is just good.
Ghee or Salted Butter – I like ghee since it’s just clarified butter, but regular salted butter is just terrific. I like using 4th and Heart Ghee, especially the Himalayan Salt version or if going with butter, I like Kerrygold since it’s made from grass-fed cows
Lawry’s Seasoning Salt – Use whatever seasoning salt you like best, but Lawry’s looks and tastes the most like the stuff they use at Sakura Chaya (I could never get them to actually tell me the ingredients)
Two Large Eggs – Depending on how “eggy” you like it. Two is plenty and in fact you might want to cut back a bit if you don’t like a lot of egg in your fried rice. But some egg gives it texture and flavor so don’t omit unless you just don’t like egg or can’t eat it.
Beyond that, you can add whatever you like! This is the base for my “Breakfast Fried Rice” but at times I like to add green onions for more added flavor or kamaboko (fish cake) for texture and depth or you could add different meats in addition to the bacon (but you gotta use bacon). Really it’s whatever floats your boat.
Cook the rice – However you cook rice just have it cooked by the time you put it in the pan. Jasmine rice works great. Seems to absorb the flavors well. My favorite is plain old Japanese sticky rice (not the sweet rice, but the plain sticky rice). Our family like Botan but that’s a preference thing.
Cook the bacon – Cut the bacon (literally) into little squares. Ideally, they should be as uniform as you can get it, but don’t worry too much. Bacon is bacon. I cut them with a pair of kitchen scissors – first into strips and then the strips into squares or rectangles. I fry them up in a large pan with a non-stick bottom until they are just barely all nice and crispy. Stir them around occasionally to make sure the pieces separate and cook relatively evenly. The scoop them out onto a plate, BUT LEAVE THE BACON DRIPPINGS IN THE PAN! Key.
Put the cooked rice in the bacon pan. Mix it up so that the bacon drippings coat the rice grains. This should cause some separation in the rice grains, but that’s good! It makes it even easier to mix everything. This is where I add ghee. I don’t have a specific amount I add because it depends on how well coated the rice is. Some bacon is more “drippy” than others. I always put some ghee because that butter flavor is awesome.
Sprinkle the Lawry’s Seasoning Salt all over the rice so there is a good single layer of it and begin mixing it all up. Once you’ve mixed it some, add the soy sauce liberally over the rice. Most of the grains of rice should turn a brown-ish color from the soy sauce. It’s okay if some are still white. What you want is a good flavor without too much saltiness. You’ll be surprised how much soy sauce the rice can take. I probably use about 2-3 TBSP. Mix well.
Flatten the rice as much as you can in the pan and let it sit for about 3 or 4 minutes. What you hope is to develop a little bit of crust on the bottom. Not so it’s hard but with just a tad of crunch. While the rice is sitting, beat the eggs together in a small bowl. I like to add just a tad of milk (like 1 tsp) and salt and pepper with it. Once beaten and mixed set aside briefly.
Lift up the rice and fold it over so that the bottom comes to the top and you mix it up again. Once mixed, move the whole pile to one side of the pan to make room for the eggs. Pour as much of the egg mixture as you want. We use about 1 1/2 eggs (but since eggs don’t come in halves, I just mix together two and use about 1 1/2). I scramble the eggs until they are just this side of fluffy (not overcooked) and start breaking them up. Once broken up, I mix it together into the rice, add back the bacon, and stir well until it is all mixed together. This is where I would add things like kamaboko or green onions or chicken (cooked) depending on what you want.