Hey everyone, it’s Kevin here! Today I’m bringing you a delicious and super simple recipe for authentic Yangzhou fried rice, the most iconic fried rice in China!
Even though I grew up in a Chinese household, I actually rarely ate fried rice as a kid. Recently though, I finally purchased a real wok, so I have been obsessed with cooking wok dishes. This Yangzhou fried rice is one of the most popular dishes in China and is commonly called house fried rice in Chinese restaurants in Western countries. I was amazed at just how quick and easy it is to make this super delicious fried rice, and it’s become one of my favorite weekday meals!
What is Yangzhou Fried Rice?
Yangzhou fried rice, or Yangzhou chao fan in Chinese, is a simple fried rice made in a wok. The name comes from the city of Yangzhou, where the inventor of the dish was from.
This famous Chinese fried rice is different from a lot of fried rice you might find in Western Chinese restaurants because it doesn’t use a lot of sauce or additional spices. The main ingredients are simply rice, some sweet vegetables (like peas and carrots), char siu (Chinese BBQ pork), and scallions. I also added shrimp to this recipe because it adds more protein and is a light-flavored meat that won’t distract from the rest of the dish. The only extra flavor comes from some salt and just a bit of soy sauce.
The point of keeping the dish simple is to highlight the rice, which should be the star of the dish. So, the other ingredients should not be too dominating in flavor. The sweet vegetables, such as peas and carrots, are complemented by the salty protein, char siu and shrimp, to create a balanced dish. None of the ingredients stand out when you take a bite, but the combination tastes delicious.
That said though, fried rice is a dish that can be made with whatever you have in your fridge. Feel free to experiment with replacing some of the vegetables (another popular option is corn) or the proteins (chicken is a popular choice as well).
Yangzhou fried rice is a really simple dish that is hard to mess up, and even if you make a few mistakes along the way, it’s easy to fix and will still taste great. However, here are some helpful pointers that should make your first try go much better!
- If possible, use day-old rice that has been left in the refrigerator overnight. This is definitely the most important tip and is the only thing that could make your fried rice come out wrong. The reason why day-old rice is used in fried rice is that leaving it in the fridge will cause the rice to dry out a bit. This allows the individual grains of rice to separate so you don’t end up with mushy fried rice. If you forgot to make the rice ahead of time for this recipe, make your fresh rice is a bit on the drier side and you should still be fine.
- Use a wok if you have it! There are a few reasons why the wok is the perfect tool for making fried rice. First, it makes tossing a lot easier, which will help you separate the grains of rice and get everything cooked evenly. Second, you will get the wok hei flavor that can really only be achieved by cooking in a wok. Wok hei is that hard-to-describe flavor that is often associated with stir-fries or fried rice cooked at super authentic hole-in-the-wall Chinese restaurants. Read more about it here.
- Break up the cold rice into individual grains before you cook it. This will make your life so much easier and allow the rice to be cooked evenly.
- Make sure the wok is super hot before adding the rice. You’ll know it’s hot enough when your oil is smoking. This is important so that the rice actually fries when added to the pan instead of steaming because the temperature of the pan will drop substantially when the rice is added. After adding the rice, be sure to quickly stir and toss a lot so that each grain of rice is coated with oil.
Ready to eat some Yangzhou fried rice? Let’s get started!
Looking for more popular Chinese dishes?
- Chinese Braised Pork Belly (Hong Shao Rou)
- Authentic Chinese Scallion Pancake (Cong You Bing)
- Chinese Stir-fried Tomato and Egg (西红柿炒鸡蛋)
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