Thai chicken fried rice is such a fulfilling dish. It is yummy, healthy and colorful. The tender and moist slices of chicken, the slightly charred rice with a tangy flavor of herbs and red curry, and the crispy pepper and cucumber, all coming together on one plate. The dish only takes 30 minutes to cook and you will be surprised that such a vibrant plate could be created from a few leftover ingredients in your fridge.
Fried rice is definitely one of my favorite dishes and it is such a comfort food for me. To tell you the truth, my favorite type of fried rice only requires four ingredients – egg, green onion, salt and rice. I can finish that dish in 10 minutes. It’s simple, yet super tasty. But today, I will share a slightly fancier fried rice with you, with chicken and veggies, cooked with curry and oyster sauce.
When you look at the long ingredient list, it might seem a bit daunting. But the truth is, once you get the general idea of how to cook delicious fried rice, you will find all fried rice recipes easy to follow. It is also very flexible in the way you can replace any ingredient. This recipe is adapted from the Thai Spicy Basil Chicken Fried Rice.
How to cook fried rice that doesn’t suck
- Cook the veggies and meat separately (this is crucial!)
No matter what ingredients you decide to use in your fried rice, make sure to cook them thoroughly with light seasoning before adding them to the rice.
The most common proteins to add to fried rice are: ham, shrimp, chicken, pork and beef. The common vegetables are: pepper, peas, carrot and cucumber. In other words, veggies that don’t contain a lot of water.
- Do not use too many ingredients in addition to the rice
This is similar to the general rule for pizza toppings, that less is more. If your rice is overwhelmed by crunchy veggies and you can’t even see the rice, let alone taste it, then what’s the point? You should just cook stir fried veggies instead.
- You can use leftover OR freshly cooked rice
You might have read this hundreds of times – you should only use leftover rice to cook fried rice. It is NOT true. The only reason to use leftover rice is because the rice is drier and easier to break apart, so you won’t end up with a soggy final product.
However, sometimes you don’t have leftover rice and want to enjoy fried rice the same day. The best solution is to cook the rice with slightly less water than your usual steamed rice, so the cooked rice won’t be especially sticky. Once the rice is cooked, use a spatula to stir the rice a few times to release the steam. Spread the rice across a large plate to cool it off. Cover the rice and let it rest a while in the fridge before cooking.
- Use enough oil
It makes the dish less healthy than it might seem, but the rice will be much tastier. You can use this ratio: 1 tablespoon (or more) of vegetable oil for every 2 cups of cooked rice. Although you may need different amounts of oil or cooking process depending on the recipe, you should remember not to be stingy with the oil.
- Use eggs
Use this simple and classic method to create better fried rice. Even you’re adding shrimp or chicken into the rice, adding one egg for every two cups of rice will magically make it taste even better.
- Use plenty of herbs (green onion, ginger and/or garlic) to add flavor
Because the seasoning of most fried rice is usually very simple, adding plenty of herbs will add a pungent flavor and umami to make the whole dish tastier. The same logic applies with most stir fried dishes.
- Cook the rice thoroughly before adding other ingredients back
After heating up the oil, add plenty green onion (or garlic/ginger, depending on your preference) and stir until fragrant, then add in the rice. Chop and separate the rice into small chunks to mix well with oil and heat up evenly. The rice should be fully heated before you add back the cooked veggies and/or meat.
I really hope these tips help you cook better fried rice. If there’s any point I forgot to cover here, drop a message below to let me know!
Thai Curry Chicken Fried Rice
- 1/2 piece chicken breast , sliced
- 2 teaspoons light soy sauce
- 2 teaspoons cornstarch
- 2 teaspoons oyster sauce
- 1 teaspoon fish sauce
- 1/2 teaspoon sugar
- 2 tablespoons peanut oil (or vegetable oil)
- 1 red pepper , diced
- 1 cucumber , diced
- 2 tablespoons green onion , chopped
- 1 tablespoon garlic , chopped
- 1 tablespoon massaman curry paste
- 2 cups rice , cooked
- 1 teaspoon peanut oil + 1 egg, beaten (Optional)
- 1/2 teaspoon lime juice (or lemon juice)
- chopped cilantro for garnish (Optional)
- Place chicken breast in a small bowl, and add 1 teaspoon light soy sauce and cornstarch. Mix well with fingers until chicken is coated with a thin layer of starch. Marinate at room temperature for 10 to 15 minutes.
- In a small bowl, combine the remaining 1 teaspoon of light soy sauce, the oyster sauce, the fish sauce and the sugar. Mix well and set aside.
- Heat 2 teaspoons of oil in a nonstick skillet over medium high heat. When oil is warm, spread chicken slices onto skillet. Grill for 2 minutes, until the bottom side turns golden brown. Flip and grill the other side, until the surface turns golden brown. Turn to lowest heat and transfer chicken to a plate. Set aside.
- Pour 1 teaspoon of oil into the same skillet and turn to medium high heat. Add red pepper and cucumber and stir until the vegetables are cooked through, about 2 minutes. Turn to low heat. Transfer cooked vegetables to the plate with the chicken.
- Add 2 teaspoons of oil, green onion and garlic into the same skillet. Stir a few times until fragrant. Add curry paste and stir to mix curry with the herbs until fragrant. Add 1 teaspoon of oil and rice. Use spatula to chop rice into small chunks. Chop and stir the rice until mixed well with curry paste.
- (Optional) Use spatula to move the rice to one side of the skillet. Add oil and egg on the other side. Wait until egg is slightly cooked on the bottom, then mix the egg with rice. Stir a few times until egg is cooked.
- Add chicken and vegetables back into skillet. Mix the sauce with a spoon and swirl into the skillet. Stir to mix everything well, for 1 to 2 minutes. Stop heat, add lime juice, and mix with spatula again. Carefully taste the rice and adjust seasoning if needed.
- Garnish with cilantro and serve warm.