Chicken fried rice- a well kept secret

I have been searching to find a recipe for chicken fried rice that tastes anything close to what I have come to expect from a local takeaway. I have looked online and through my many recipe books including those by well known celebrity chefs and those that specialise in oriental style cookery. I have tried those recipes for fried rice which have really left me quite underwhelmed with the results. So far I have drawn a complete blank with those sources. It seems that either this is a well guarded secret or that the very title given to the dish ‘Chicken fried rice’ is actually a complete misnomer: a red herring perhaps designed to obscure the truth regarding how the dish should actually be prepared.

The actual preparation of chicken fried rice is a well guarded secret available only to a few

I believe the confusion lies in the very misleading title that the dish has been given which you would believe holds the key to how the dish is made. This is simply not the case. The colour of fried rice suggests that it has been browned off in a wok or frying pan with oil and that is how it gets it’s burnt appearance. This is misleading and the key to how this process of making it has become some obscured and secretive. The true preparation of chicken fried rice seems to be a well protected secret in the style of the Magic Circle available only to the Chinese restaurateurs. It would appear that the true making of the dish has become a guarded secret and I would expect that most of the Chinese Restaurants and takeaways are laughing about our attempts to recreate the dish and the amount of inaccurate recipes out there on the web and in cookbooks. It protects their business and insures that you will return to them for the genuine product.

So disappointed was I with the results of these searches for Chinese Style chicken fried rice that I made my own quest to try and understand and make the elusive dish and this is the resulting recipe for chicken fried rice that I think works the best.

My Preparation of Chicken Fried Rice is different from recipes I have seen previously

The first thing to remember is that the rice is fried but only at the end of process and this is not what gives it it’s colour. You will need to make the rice a good few hours before you assemble the dish because the rice needs to be cooled down or ideally cold before you use it. In my method of preparation you give the rice all the flavours it needs as it cooks. This means adding ingredients to the water that you use to cook the rice itself. In fact the water is mostly replaced with chicken stock.

For the Rice you will need

  • Long Grain White Rice
  • Chicken Stock or prepare your own with a stock cube or 2
  • Dark Soy Sauce
  • Fish Sauce

Measure one Cup of Rice. Pour the rice into a sieve then clean the rice by soaking 3 times in a sieve in a bowl of fresh cold tap water. Put the rice in a saucepan for which you have a lid.

Next make up a quantity of chicken stock enough to make 1 cup ( same size as that which you used to measure out the rice). Pour the chicken stock into the cup which you used to measure out the rice then add this to the rice in the saucepan. Now use this measuring cup again and fill it to halfway with cold fresh water.

Now add equal measures of Dark Soy sauce and Fish Sauce to this cup of water to top up to to capacity. This will now make up your 2:1 ratio of liquid to rice. Now add this 2nd cup of mixture to the rice. Stir the rice in the saucepan to mix the liquids together, cover with a lid and bring to the boil. Once boiling turn down the heat to simmer for approx 15 minutes or until all the liquid has been absorbed by the rice. Once the rice is cooked run a fork through it to separate it and then leave to cool by taking off the pan lid. It is important to remove the lid because you want the steam to escape. The idea is that you want the rice to dry-out as much as possible. Let the rice cool down. Re-separate the rice by running a fork through it again. Then ideally cover the rice and leave in fridge for a few hours before use.

You will notice the rice is a light brown colour (looking like it has been fried but in actual fact it has just absorbed this colour). You will notice that it has now absorbed Chicken Stock, Soy Sauce and Fish Sauce. If you do not want it to accompany or incorporate chicken into the finished dish then leave out the Chicken Stock and add plain water in it’s place. This could be used to make just Egg Fried Rice instead without the chicken flavours. Having it in to me intensifies the overall chicken taste of the chicken fried rice dish.

Next you will need

  • 2 or 3 Chicken breasts cut into strips
  • 1 onion chopped finely
  • Mushrooms *(optional)*
  • Peas * (optional)*
  • 2 x Cloves of garlic chopped finely
  • Fresh Black Pepper and Salt
  • 3 x Eggs
  • Milk
  • 2-3 tblsp of Groundnut Oil or similar

Prepare the eggs by breaking into a bowl and add a quantity of milk as if you were going to make an omelette with the mixture. Now whisk the eggs and milk mixture together. Add salt and pepper and whisk again. You can also add a teaspoon of Sesame Oil to the egg mixture if you want the authentic Chinese taste.

Heat up a wok and add the groundnut oil. Add the chicken and fry off until opaque. Add your onions and garlic to the wok and continue to fry for 2 mins. Add your mushrooms if required and fry for additional 1 minute. Season with some salt and pepper. Now add the rice to the wok and stir through to mix together all the ingredients.

In a separate frying pan or wok heat up some vegetable oil and pour in the egg mixture to fry off as if you were making and omelette. When almost set add to the Rice and Chicken mixture and stir through continue to heat for an additional minute or 2 until you can see that the egg mixture has completely cooked.

Add cooked peas if desired and serve. Please note that this dish is best left to cool down and then reheat before serving as it tastes better when left to cool down however this may not be best practice with rice as it may raise risks associated with food poisoning.

To my tastes this is the most authentic taste that resembles what I have come to understand as chicken fried rice in restaurants and takeaways. I have no proof of the authenticity of these techniques detailed here nor that this is the authentic recipe. It is just what tastes right to me and looks right. It is a different process to that which is suggested in most recipe books and those available online.

I hope that you enjoy this recipe as much as me.

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