Fried rice, the ultimate comfort food in my opinion. Today, I’m sharing this recipe for Spicy Chicken Vegetable Fried Rice and a formula that will have you creating some of the best fried rice you’ve ever had!
Before you start looking at the recipe below and making a new grocery list, let me say one thing – I want this blog post to be more of a guide in making fried rice at home during these times, then an exact recipe. To be honest, I have never recreated the same fried rice recipe in the twenty years I have been seeing my mom make it or making it myself. Fried rice is a concept, more so than a recipe. It tells you you need rice + vegetables + optional protein + sauce = fried rice.
Can you make a fried rice without vegetables? Yes. Can you make a fried rice without protein? For sure. Can you make a fried rice without eggs? Yes you can! Heck, honestly do you even need rice to make fried rice?! Ha. Yes – if not, call it fried quinoa, fried millet, to whatever else it is. But I’m here to reinstate that this is a concept, a guide and sure, I share a recipe below, but use it as a guide and use what you have at home. Let’s talk about key ingredients in the fried rice I make at home:
Rice: to be honest, I rarely have leftover white rice in the fridge, because I just tend to eat it all when I make it, thus my recipe for fried rice always starts with making freshly steamed rice. Is this authentic? *shrug* I don’t know, but it’s the way I do it and it results and delicious fried rice. You can also use brown rice, as well as other grains such as millet, quinoa, barley, etc.
Oil/Fat: what makes fried rice so good is that it’s fried – in a bit more oil than you’d think needed and this oil can be whatever you have around, but sesame oil imparts such delicious flavor, so I used that. If you have chicken fat, coconut oil, olive oil – use it. Note I also finish my fried rice with a knob of butter – that just is the crowning touch to a fried rice. Don’t skip that.
Vegetables: meaning, whatever you have at home. For this recipe, a blend of red cabbage, garlic, ginger, carrots, red pepper, onion, cilantro, scallions, and sunflower sprouts made up my fried rice, but you can use almost any vegetables you have at home. If anything, I always want to make sure I have garlic and ginger in my fried rice just because I love those flavors, but sometimes I don’t have them at home, so I skip them. Use powdered garlic and ginger in a pinch, it’s okay.
Protein: yes, you can get protein from vegetables, but I’m referring to chicken, beef, shrimp, tofu, pork, egg, etc. I like to cook the protein before the vegetables in sesame oil, but you can use coconut oil or whatever oil you have around. Searing the chicken, in this recipe specifically, in the cast iron and then using that same pan to cook the vegetables and rice, as I scrape the flavorful bits from the pan, is key. I suggest seasoning your protein with a spice blend – Old Bay if you’re using seafood, steak seasoning if you’re using beef, etc. Or just do salt and pepper. Whatever works.
Egg: I’m adding this as a bonus because people do love egg in their fried rice but at the moment I am saving all my eggs for baking during quarantine. Thus, I didn’t include egg here, but you can. Scrambled within the rice or fried and place on top, either way works.
Sauces: can you make fried rice without soy sauce? Definitely but I prefer to always add it because it adds that comforting, salty flavor I love. I also added Worcestershire sauce because it adds great umami, alongside sriracha for the spice, but you can also add hoisin, chili oil, or any other flavor you want soaked into your fried rice.
Others: herbs, sprouts, sesame seeds, and the like are add ons that bring it all together, but are not necessary. If you have them, add them. If not, do without.
DID YOU TRY THIS RECIPE? I want to see it! Follow Cooking with Books on Instagram, take a photo, and tag me in it. I love to know what you are making and how you made this fried rice recipe your own!
- 1 cup uncooked long grain white rice
- 1½ cups water
- 1 skinless, boneless chicken breast
- 1 tablespoon spice blend - your favorite
- 2 tablespoons sesame oil
- ½ cup chopped yellow onion
- ½ cup chopped red cabbage
- ½ cup chopped carrots
- ¼ cup chopped red bell pepper
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- ½ inch ginger root, minced
- 3 tablespoons soy sauce
- 2 tablespoons Sriracha
- 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
- ¼ cup chopped cilantro
- ¼ cup chopped scallions
- ¼ cup sprouts
- Place the rice and water in a small pot over high heat until most of the water evaporates, then reduce heat to the lowest possible and cover for 10-15 minutes until fluffy.
- While the rice cooks, get your protein going. If using chicken, I like to pound the chicken to an even thickness for quicker cooking. So pound your chicken, season with whatever spice blend you'd like, and over medium heat in a large pan - a wok would be ideal, but my cast iron skillet is also perfect for this - heat the sesame oil and cook the chicken, 5 minutes on each side or until fully cooked.
- Remove chicken from pan and set aside. Add all your chopped vegetables (not herbs or sprouts) and stir fry for about 5-10 minutes, until the vegetables are slightly browned and soften a bit.
- Once they are cooked a bit, add your chicken back (which you have chopped or shredded into smaller pieces beforehand) and stir to combine.
- Add the rice, sour sauce, sriracha, Worcestershire sauce, and butter. Stir all together and taste. Season with salt if needed, but the soy sauce is sometimes salty enough.
- Finally, fold in the herbs and sprouts and serve immediately.
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