Rediscover Fried Rice and Its Rich Blend Of Flavors, History and Culture

Rediscover Fried Rice and Its Rich Blend Of Flavors, History and Culture

There are so many variations of this Asian staple that using up leftover rice will never be a problem!

Trace the origins of fried rice, and it should come as no surprise that this well-loved dish has its roots in China. After all, evidence of rice cultivation has been found in China several thousand years ago, and initially domesticated in the Yangtze River basin. Funny enough, the reason to make fried rice today is the same as millenniums ago, which is to not let leftover rice go to waste. In fact, it’s essential that you actually use leftover rice to make this popular dish. Leaving your rice grains overnight in the fridge allows it to firm up and prevent it from getting mushy in the wok.  

Now, on to the best part – learn about the different kinds of Asian fried rice and what makes this slightly charred and ultra delicious dish unique wherever you have it.

Indonesian / Malaysian

The USA in Nasi Goreng USA refers to the Udang (prawns), Sotong (squid) and Ayam (chicken) used in this dish

Dig into a piping hot plate of Nasi Goreng, and its aromatic, slightly sweet, smoky and usually spicy flavors will leave you coming back for more. Compared to Chinese fried rice, the use of kecap manis (sweet soy sauce), powdered terasi (shrimp paste) and pairing with various kinds of sambal (depends on which part of Indonesia or Malaysia you are in) often makes it a hotter and punchier kind of fried rice.

Don’t be fooled – Nasi Goreng is just the tip of the iceberg of fried rice dishes – mix it up with a wide variety of local ingredients and the flavor profile changes along with its presentation style and colors. Nasi Goreng Ayam Rendang marries the best of Chicken Rendang and classic Nasi Goreng to give you a creamier fried rice that balances out the spicy kick. Nasi Goreng Ikan Bilis is a beautiful twist on the popular Nasi Lemak, giving you the oceanic flavors of  anchovies and topped off with a perfectly fried egg. For denser, richer flavors, why not try out a Nasi Goreng Kambing? Those juicy mutton pieces and spice infusion make for a definite crowd-pleaser.

Whether you go meat free with Meat Free Nasi Goreng or quick and easy with Nasi Goreng Sardine, the possibilities with Indonesian and Malaysian fried rice alone can leave you set for a year of fried rice goodness.

Related: Nasi Gila Gondrong Obama: The Inventor of Crazy Rice

Chinese

You can't go wrong with the crowd-favorite Yang Zhou Fried Rice

One of the most quintessential Chinese fried rice is probably the Yang Zhou Fried Rice. Pork or shrimps make up the protein base of this commonly ordered dish in Cze Char or Chinese restaurants, and they are cooked with mixed vegetables (typically carrot, peas, corn and scallions) and overnight rice for a colorful, charred mix.

Be it an aromatic Chinese Beef Fried Rice, Pumpkin Seafood Fried Rice or the coveted Din Tai Fung Fried Rice, Chinese-style fried rice served to you from hawker stalls or restaurant kitchens are always tossed in a wok for that umami wok-hei flavors. Their savory taste usually comes from soy sauce, and it’s super common to find an egg cracked and scrambled into the mix for that light and fluffy texture.

Related: Spice Up Your Life With Amazing Asian Curries

Thai

Go vegetarian with this spicy One Pan Vegan Krapao Fried Rice

Khao Pad or Thai Fried Rice is ubiquitous throughout Thailand, and you can enjoy this delightfully bright dish from a bustling street stall or upscale eatery. Just like the popular Pad Thai, Khao Pad usually is stir-fried or wok-tossed with prawns, chicken or beef. A squeeze of lime at the end or pairing it with the Prik Nam Pla (chillies in fish sauce) often enhances the savory flavors of the dish, and adds a nice sour tang that offsets the greasiness of the dish.

Khao Pad Krapow or Thai Chicken Fried Rice with Basil is one of the addictive combinations, as the subtle sweetness and citrusy notes of basil pairs really well with the tender chicken pieces. Vegans can also enjoy an equally delicious version of this dish made from tempeh pieces with this One Pan Vegan Krapao Fried Rice Recipe.

Related: Cendol: Slurp-worthy Sweet Ice Bowls Around Asia

Korean

Infuse Korean flavors into your fried rice dinner with this Kimchi Fried Rice recipe

If you’ve ever dined in a Korean BBQ or beachside seafood restaurant, chances are that you’ve been offered some rice at the end to mix into the grill pan to soak up the last of the mouthwatering juices from your grilled meats or seafood. It’s common to fry this rice with leftover dak-galbi (spicy stir-fried chicken) or nakji-bokkeum (stir-fried octopus) for a satisfying finish to any dinner.

As a standalone Korean dish, Kimchi Fried Rice is commonly found on the menu and it’s a fantastic sour-spicy way to use up leftover kimchi and vegetables in the fridge. For a protein-rich option, this Tuna Kimchi Rice has lovely tuna flakes, seaweed and even an egg mixed into the distinctive kimchi rice base.

Related: 8 Classic Korean Dishes From Popular K-Dramas

International Fusion

It's hard not to drool over a Cheesy Baked Tomato Fried Rice that's fresh out of the oven

Fancy a dash of adventure in your fried rice exploration? Fusing Asian-stlye fried rice with western ingredients or methods can bring about some delicious creations that your family will enjoy. It’s difficult to go wrong with oozing melted cheese over a stir-fried rice like in this Cheesy Baked Tomato Fried Rice. Cheese goes well with many kinds of fried rice, and can help to offset the spiciness of the dish while coating the rice grains with a savory gooey layer for an addictive bite.

Fried cauliflower rice like this Turmeric Cauli Rice is also a trending keto-friendly substitute for fried rice. Ham, colorful peppers and bacon are some other western ingredients that have made its way into fried rice, lending some of their signature flavors and textures to the dish while letting you reuse leftovers in a tasty manner!

Related: 10 Of The Cheesiest Cheese Recipes Ever

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