Special fried rice is a variation of the classic Chinese dish, which is loaded with different, richer ingredients. Fried rice is one of the easiest dishes to make at home and is, in fact, well-suited to a home kitchen.
This article teaches you how to make this "special," fancier version in the easiest way possible. We cover everything one might need to know about this dish, from A to Z. But what makes this dish so bespoke and noteworthy?
What is special fried rice?
Fried rice originates from China, specifically dating back to the Sui Dynasty. Many different variations of this dish have cropped up throughout Asia, some even further. These include the Indonesia and Singapore fried rice recipe, Thai Kao phat, and even Cuban Arroz Frito.
This specific variation is known for loading the rice with toppings, such as extra meats and vegetables. However, you can choose to exclude the egg and meat. Therefore, it is an excellent vegetarian main course and has the advantage of being easy to cook.
But how many kinds of special fried rice are there?
Generally speaking, you can cook many Chinese takeaway dishes in Indo-Chinese style. There are many exceptions, but this special fried rice is not one of them.
Indo-Chinese cuisine developed when the British colonizers in India imported Chinese products (like tea and silk), bringing Chinese migrants looking for work. This diaspora started cooking their food, and in some places (like Calcutta), they modified their recipes to be more favourable to Indian palates.
Later, this form of cuisine grew into its own, becoming a staple comfort food in the nation. Although most Chinese people would agree that the special fried rice recipe dishes are by no means authentic, they continue to be a valid cuisine in their own right.
Fried rice is also one of the dishes which is an Indo-Chinese staple. There are some differences between the two preparations in ingredients and flavour. You can try both and see which one you like more. Both recipes have been included below in this article.
Some differences between Indo-Chinese and authentic Chinese special fried rice are as follows:
- Indo-Chinese versions usually include spices more commonly seen in Indian cuisines, such as cardamom, cloves, cumin, and caraway. On the other hand, Chinese versions include typical Chinese flavourings and ingredients such as soy sauce, Shaoxing wine, and white vinegar. MSG is commonly used in Chinese home cooking, while Indo-Chinese versions made at home will usually omit it.
- Chinese cooking methods utilize much higher heat and a faster cooking time. In Indian versions, spices are toasted in oil separately and on medium heat, which means the rice's cooking time and texture are drastically different.
In addition to traditional Chinese and Indo-Chinese versions of the special fried rice, others in different countries cater to the palates of and utilize the ingredients of that region.
American fried rice is usually somewhat sweeter and often has ketchup as a flavouring. Spanish versions usually utilize more chilli, in keeping with traditional dishes that have similar cooking methods.
Fried rice is one of the most beginner-friendly and accessible recipes of all time, mainly due to the simple recipe and how it can incorporate leftovers. In addition, our recipe for special fried rice leaves room for customization and modification. So, you can tailor-make the dish which appeals to you the most. Its versatility and awe-inspiring range is part of what makes it an enduring classic to this day, and we strongly urge you to give it a try.
But first, is this dish nutritious enough to eat as often as you probably crave it?
One cup serving of this dish can contain anywhere from 225 calories to 555. Fat content in most preparations is minimal. Instead, the bulk of the plate consisting of carbohydrates, fibre, and protein.
Since the restaurant style, special fried rice dish can contain any number of and combination of ingredients; the calorie count can also vary wildly. For example, recipes with fewer vegetables and meat will have higher calorie counts per serving since they contain less protein and fibre (and more carbohydrates) per serving.
However, it does contain many necessary vitamins such as vitamin A, C, E, and K. Minerals like potassium and iron are also present. Hence, the dish can be a well-balanced main course on its own, with no side dishes required.
To get the most bang for your (metaphorical) buck, add loads of healthy vegetables and proteins to your special fried rice. Although this recipe calls for white rice, it is possible to swap it for brown grains if you want more fibre.
But what are the most common ingredients in this dish? Are they healthy?
Most traditional fried rice recipes include eggs, meat, and vegetables, most commonly carrots and peas. Many cooks also include onions and garlic. The most straightforward recipe calls for only eggs, oil, and rice.
However, special fried rice is the opposite. It is stuffed with delicious ingredients so that every bite is something different.
Corn, carrots, and peas are the most common additions to this dish, but other vegetables such as bell pepper, green beans, and broccoli are also perfect. You can add any leftover vegetables to this recipe.
Meat like ham, spam, shrimp, chicken, and beef can all be added to the special fried rice in any combination. Leftover meat that you have already cooked is ideally suited for this dish.
Other ingredients include rice, oil, and flavourings such as soy sauce and white vinegar. MSG is a common addition, but most non-Asian households do not keep it on hand. Nevertheless, it is an excellent source of umami and lip-smacking saltiness in many dishes.
If you do not have MSG, consider investing in a small sachet and using it instead of salt wherever sour and salty flavours meet.
If you are concerned about the health hazards of using MSG, please note that there are none. Many have debunked the myth of MSG several times. Many common foods already contain it. If you want to taste something different and truly spectacular, give MSG a try!
Special fried rice is one of those dishes that is an entire meal in itself. It rarely requires a side dish. However, if you are cooking for a crowd, you might need a wider variety of food to satisfy everyone. In that case, here is a list of other dishes to serve with it.
For a traditional Chinese preparation:
- Soup such as egg drop soup (蛋花湯), chicken mushroom soup (冬菇鸡丝汤), and hot and sour soup (酸辣汤).
- Fried or boiled eggs
- Stir-fried or boiled greens, Chinese style
- Meatballs or jiaozi
- Egg rolls (蛋卷)
- Cooked chicken or pork, such as boiled shredded chicken or a chicken stir-fry (such as 彩虹鸡炒 or rainbow stir fry).
- A traditional salad such as cucumber salad (拍黄瓜)
For an Indo-Chinese preparation:
- Manchurian (rough chopped deep-fried meat or vegetables coated in a rich sauce)
- Spring rolls
- Sweet and sour soup
- Chop suey
If you don't mind two carb-rich dishes on the table, try any of the thousands of noodle dishes! Our favourite is this shrimp chow mein Cantonese style.
Here are some tips to ensure that you have the perfect special fried rice.
- Use a wok if you have one. If you don't, any wide and deep saute pan will do. However, don't be tempted to use nonstick; it will ruin the texture of the rice.
- Use the highest heat possible. As long as you keep it moving, nothing will burn. Don't be afraid of a bit of smoke - that indicates that the oil is at the correct temperature.
- For an Indo-Chinese preparation, add cumin, chilli powder, and caraway to taste. Add them in with the oil while it is heating up. Then proceed with the recipe as written below.
Special Fried Rice Recipe | Chinese Takeaway
- 3 tablespoon vegetable oil
- 1 cup leftover medium to long grain rice
- 3 cloves garlic
- 1 pc spring onion (scallion)
- ½ pc shallot
- 1 egg
- 100 g meat*
- 200 g vegetables*
- 1½ teaspoon light soy sauce
- 1 teaspoon sesame oil
- Salt to taste
- Pepper to taste
- Chop the vegetables and the spring onion. Next, chop the garlic and shallot finely and grate the ginger. Finally, chop all the meat.
- Add some of the vegetable oil to a wok on high heat. Once the oil is smoking, add the egg to the wok and fry. Once the egg is slightly set, scramble it by beating it with a spatula. Then push it aside.
- Add more oil. Once it is smoking, add the rice. Separate it with the spatula to ensure that each grain is evenly fried.
- After around 2 minutes, add the meat and stir until well mixed. Continue to stir fry for 2 minutes or longer if the meat is not cooked beforehand. Then add some of the vegetables and stir fry for 30 seconds. Add more and more of the vegetables in stages like this until all of them have been added.
- Add the scallion and stir well, reserving half for garnish after serving. Add light soy sauce, pepper and salt at this stage.
- Take off the heat and let cool slightly. Now add sesame oil and stir until well mixed into the rice. Finally, garnish with the reserved scallion. Enjoy your special fried rice while it's still hot!
- *You can use any three types of vegetables. Our pick is peas, carrots, and corn. However, you can choose any vegetables as long as the combined weight of the vegetables is approximately 200 g. Use whatever you have on hand or leftover.
- *You can use any meat as long as the total weight is 100 g. Our favourite combination is chicken and shrimp.
- Moreover, you can substitute meat with tofu. Alternatively, you can sub in 150 g more vegetables for a vegetarian, rich special fried rice.
- If you prefer not to have eggs, you can omit those too. Instead, mix a dash of white vinegar into the soy sauce.
- If you do not have leftover rice, make a fresh batch and dry it in the oven. Put it in the refrigerator to chill it, and you will have rice that is perfect for this Chinese takeaway recipe.
- When frying the rice, do not mash the grains with the spatula! If the grains are looking a bit dry, add more oil.
- Add any more seasonings you like. An Indo-Chinese preparation would include chilli sauce, honey, chilli powder (or flakes) and some MSG.
Calories have been calculated using an online calculator. Nutritional information offered on Honest Food Talks is for general information purposes and are only rough estimations.
As mentioned above, there are many ways of preparing this superb dish! Jehan Powell on Youtube has her own rendition of this Chinese takeaway dish that we recommend you check out. Her method includes seasoning the meat beforehand to add more kick to its taste.
We hope this article about special fried rice helped you learn something new about the variety and diversity of Chinese cuisine. This Chinese takeaway dish is one of the most beginner-friendly dishes out there. Moreover, it is an excellent quick weeknight meal since you can make it with whatever you have on hand.
Fried rice is also one of the most universally beloved, crowd-pleasing dishes you can make. You can prepare it to be vegan-friendly as well. We hope you try this recipe out for yourself! 吃好喝好!
How did yours turn out? Share with us your home masterpiece by tagging us on Instagram @honestfoodtalks!