As a college student, I know the hardships one can face when trying to make a good meal. Sometimes it's too expensive. Sometimes it's too time-consuming. Sometimes it doesn't taste edible. And sometimes it's just too hard to make.
Well, this recipe is one that is easy to make, doesn't take too long, and always ends up tasting delicious. You can use a few basic ingredients to keep it cheap and simple or you can really go all out and make it your very own version of the recipe.
Note: I will outline some variations within the recipe as I go through the different steps. It is suggested that you briefly read through these optional steps before getting your ingredients together in the case that you'll want to do any of these steps.
Step 1: List of Ingredients
Below are the ingredients that I typically use when cooking the dish. Again, keep in mind that there are a variety of ways to cook fried rice and this is just the barebones recipe for it.
Meat - 1 lbs
You'll need a pound of meat. It can be almost any kind of meat, but it needs to be divided into bite sizes pieces, so keep that in mind. Also, I wouldn't suggest anything too fancy because some of the flavor will be lost to the soy sauce. Beef, pork, and chicken are all work deliciously. Ground meat works out alright, but I usually go with a stir-fry type package or slice the meat up myself. And finally, the bulk of this recipe will be centered around the fact that there is meat in the fried rice. If you want vegetable fried rice, more vegetables will be needed or the rice will be very bland. That will be covered later on though.
Rice- 2 cups
It wouldn't be fried rice if there wasn't any rice in it. I use simple white rice that comes in a box with its own instructions. If you fancy something with more flavor or nutritional value, go ahead and use it.
Vegetables - Optional
This is where the variety comes in. I typically only use two onions, but anything up to a 12 oz package of vegetables should be okay to use without adding more rice to compensate for it. Fresh vegetables will be cut early on and cooked with the meat. Frozen vegetables will be cooked later and added in the final step. If you want vegetable fried rice, I would suggest at least a 12 oz package or about 2 cups to make up for the lack of substance that the meat would provide.
Eggs - 3 eggs
Eggs are added for a little bit of variety in the dish (and what would fried rice be without eggs?).
Vegetable Oil - 3 tbs
The vegetable oil is used to cook the eggs.
Soy Sauce - 5 tbs
Soy sauce is crucial for most Asian cuisine and this is no exception. It's added to the mix later on to keep it from overshadowing the flavors of everything else.
Sugar - 1 tsp
All of the ingredients so far have added a lot of saltiness to the recipe. The sugar is here to try and balance the flavor out a little bit.
Water - 2 cups
The water is just used to cook the rice.
Dishes and Utensils
A deep pot will be needed to put all of the ingredients together and a smaller pot can be used to cook the rice. A frying pan and spatula will also come in handy for cooking the eggs (and possibly the meat or vegetables). A strainer can be used to drain the meat if you don't plan on using the lid for the pot. Measuring cups and spoons will be needed for some ingredients. A cutting board and decent knife will be needed if you buy large pieces of meat or have fresh vegetables to chop. And finally, you'll need a spoon to stir it all and dishes to eat it out of.
Step 2: Cut the Vegetables
If you're using fresh vegetables, it's probably best to cut them first and get them ready before the meat has started to cook. Basically, you'll want to cut the vegetables into pieces small enough that they can mix in with a forkful rice. Be sure to rinse off any vegetables, especially if you aren't peeling them first. Carrots, peas, broccoli, bean sprouts, peppers, and onions are all typical additions to fried rice. I personally prefer to use just onions, so I'll detail how I chop mine up below.
I usually start by peeling off as much of the outer layers of onion as I can. Peeling down until the skin is white and does have any real blemishes is a safe way to ensure the quality you'll want in a chopped onion. After that, cut off the two tips of the onion so it's flat on both sides. With the onion standing on one of the flat sides, cut down the middle of the onion and focus on one half at a time. Place one half on the cutting board and cutting slices while trying to keep it in the same shape. The next part is easier if it's still in the same shape. Also, while there is such a thing as too thin, it's a lot easier to make it too thick. Finally, with the half cut into slices, turn it on the cutting board and slice it again in the other direction. It'll fall apart while you're cutting it, so be careful. Then just repeat with the other half and then the other onion. When you're done, put it to the side ready to be added to the meat.
Step 3: Cook the Beef
With fresh vegetables chopped, it's time to move onto the meat. It should be broken up into bite sized pieces. I usually buy pre-chopped meat, but anything that can be chopped up small should work.
The meat should be browned in a frying pan or a large pot over medium heat. If you have chopped vegetables, they should be added shortly after starting the meat so the flavors can blend. If you want crisper vegetables, add them when the meat is almost done. If you want softer vegetables, add them almost right away. When the meat is done cooking, it'll be set aside until it's time to add the rest of the ingredients, so know that the vegetables will still spend a little more time cooking even after the meat is done.
Optional: This is an optional step for people who like more flavor in their fried rice. If the meat tastes too bland, marinade it. There are plenty of delicious Asian marinades that can really uplift the flavor of the meat. Personally, I think the meat itself is what adds flavor to the fried rice. But if you'd really like something more tasty, break up the meat a few hours ahead of time and soak it all in some marinade. I would suggest against soy sauce unless you really love it; you'll be adding quite a bit of it later on.
Step 4: Cook the Rice
I use rice that comes with instructions on a box. If you have your own way to make rice, go ahead. As long as it makes about 2 cups of rice, it'll work.
As for my rice, I boil as much water as I have rice. I then add the rice and take it off of the heat. After the rice has softened up, fluff it up and try to store it somewhere cool. Cool rice works better, but warm rice is still delicious.
Step 5: Cook the Egg
Eggs are an important part of making fried rice. Start off by adding the 3 tbs of vegetable oil to a frying pan and heating it up to medium heat. Then beat the eggs up in a small bowl and pour them into the frying pan. Normally They'll start to fry in the oil right away, so be ready to give them your full attention. The bottom off the eggs will cook much faster than the top, so you'll have lift up the edge and let the uncooked egg flow underneath. It'll get to the point when there's no more liquid on top, but the egg isn't fully cooked. This is probably the trickiest part of the entire recipe because you'll have to flip the egg completely over to cook the top. Try to use a fork to lift the edge of eggs up so you can slide a spatula underneath them to flip them. It's not too important to keep them in one piece cause you'll be cutting them up in the next step.
Step 6: Cutting the Egg
There really is no right or wrong way to divide up the egg. With the way it's cooked, it can sometimes be a hassle to cut it up without ripping it. This means that it may be easier just to tear it up into small pieces by hand. And the pieces can be big or small, it really depends on your preference. The method and the end result are entirely up to you.
Step 7: Cook the Vegetables
Optional: I don't usually do this because I love chopped onions, but if you want to include frozen vegetables, now is the time to cook/steam them. Steamed vegetables are a cheap and easy way to add flavor and color to an already tasty dish.
Step 8: Put It Together
Now that you have all your ingredients cooked and ready, it's time to add them all together. Get the rice, meat, vegetables and eggs and put them together in the large pot with 5 tbs soy sauce and 1 tsp sugar. Add in salt and pepper to taste and mix it all together. If some ingredients aren't still warm from being cooked, it would be worth it to turn on low heat and let it warm up before serving. Then, all you have left to do is...
Step 9: Enjoy!
Serve it up in bowls or on a plate and enjoy it with your favorite utensils (I use chopsticks because I think I'm cool)! I usually only eat with one other person and it's enough to feed us plus leftovers for two meals. And we all know how good Asian food is leftover!