Last week I made a fried rice bento. I enjoy very much both cooking fried rice and eating it. I specially like one with sea food, the best fried rice I have ever eaten is the fried rice with wonderful crab meat which I had in Hong Kong many years ago. It was very very yummy. 2 years ago I was in London and went to a famous Chinese restaurant which was supposed to serve good fried rice but I was very disappointed. Simply because it was too greasy. Greasy and mushy fried rice is no good 😦 and unfortunately many Chinese restaurants here in Oslo too do not know how to make a good and light fried rice. I know I have some readers in Malaysia and Singapore where really good fried rice is served and I am looking forward to visiting there and eating wonderful local fried rice one day.
I think fried rice is a very simple dish anyone can make with usual ingredients, often leftover ingredients in your fridge, and it is so useful to know some how-to tips in order to get it just right.
People say it is best to use medium-grain rice, specially Chinese jasmine rice, and I agree. Japanese rice is short-grain rice and it is a bit too sticky type of rice for fried rice, but since it is the rice I eat at home everyday I am using it for fried rice as well. It goes alright as long as it is cold or even half-frozen. Freshly cooked rice results as gummy fried rice and it is not good at all. Well refrigerated rice is easy to separate and it gets fluffy when you stir-fry it.
You can use any vegetable you have in your fridge, here I cut red pepper, brown mushrooms, green onions, ham and steamed pork into small pieces. If you like you can add chicken or eggs, crunchy bamboo shoots or water chestnuts are very good too.
Heat a large frypan over medium-high heat, pour 3-4 table spoons of salad oil (I don’t recommend olive oil) and “season” all over the cooking surface of the pan, heat the oil well. When it starts to smoke, take the oil out. Be careful as it is very hot. Put the green onion in first and stir-fry quickly, the small bits of green onion get burnt easily but the wonderful smell of it is transferred to the oil and so aromatic! Heat down to medium, add the meat ingredients and stir-fry. Add rice and fluff it in the pan. Stir-fry well together, maybe you want to increase the heat to high when almost all the rice grain is separated. I try to stir fry rice very well until all the rice grain gets evenly heated up because you are going to add the remaining vegetables and use the heat from the hot rice to cook them.
I usually season with dry seasonings like salt and chicken soup powder. Soy sauce is wonderful too. Then gather the rice to one side and put soy sauce directly onto the hot surface of the other side of the pan and mix in. Soy sauce contains sugar and it gets caramelized on the hot surface, it adds a wonderful flavor to the fried rice. Yummy! We avoid pouring liquid seasoning directly onto rice because it gets wet and heavy. Good fried rice is fluffy, light and evenly stir-fried and never greasy.
You work so hard to get it right fluffy fried rice, and yes, it should be as light as possible in our bento box too! Use a big spoon and scoop them gently into your bento box. Never press in, just place them gently onto each scoop just like you pack some air in between! Maybe you will find you need a larger bento box than usual as you don’t want to fill up to the brim and let the lid press down your fluffy fried rice.
Cook it right and pack it right, and enjoy your fried rice bento!