Egg Fried Rice is one of the dishes I love when I was in Taiwan during my student exchange semester. It was so accessible anywhere, in small street stalls or family restaurants, one used to be right outside the tunnel of the National Sun Yat-Sen University in Kaohsiung, and another near the temple where they were really good at making an egg and beef version of it. It was an important part of our diet especially because back in 2005, we had to do a lot of walking, commuting, and nearly hiking (the school was on a mountain, so everything is very steep, and our dormitory was in the school as well). We understood after a month why such beautiful, slim students can eat a whole plate to themselves when it’s something that is usually shared with two or more back at home.
Fried rice should be simple, but I was looking for a certain style that was reminiscent of the fried rice that we had in the restaurant inside our campus in NSYU, and the fried rice in a small space near the temple in the same city, which we fondly called “Temple Fried Rice.” I love that each grain of rice is separate, and is coated well with egg and the flavor of the meat (usually either shrimp, pork, or beef).
Another style that I really love is the Din Tai Fung style—where it seems to be a bit less oily, quite delicate and fragrant compared to its street versions. I love how each bit of short-grain rice is covered with a bit of egg, and then the meat, usually shrimps, also help lift the overall flavor of the rice.
The funny part is that after watching so many videos and attempting it so many times that I think I lost count, I only finally managed to get it only last year. Fried rice in general is easy, but getting the delicate flavors right, and recalling how it tastes and looks like, even the texture of the dish—that’s something that I found hard to replicate. But finally, after watching Chinese and Taiwanese chefs make their egg fried rice, I was able to get the technique. Here are some things that I have learned through my many attempts:
- Make sure that you’re using overnight fried rice (best if refrigerated) that isn’t too soft and moist. This is a common tip for making fried rice, whether it be the local “Sinangag” or garlic fried rice in the Philippines, or the Yakimeshi in Japan, or the Pineapple Fried Rice in Thailand. Making fried rice from freshly cooked rice will only make the rice mushy and deformed, and will not be very good.
- Fry the egg in the same pan, and don’t set aside, instead, let each grain of rice be coated by the egg so that the taste will be more apparent and the rice will be more fragrant. A lot of fried rice recipes that aren’t of Taiwanese or Chinese origin, fry the egg separately and add it again later. This won’t allow the egg to coat each grain of rice.
- If you want it Din Tai Fung style, use short-grain rice, to achieve the same texture. Also, skip the garlic if you can. But I REALLY love garlic, so my version will sneak in only one clove of finely chopped garlic.
If you will be using beef (this is more of the Taiwanese street style version), add half a teaspoon more of light soy sauce, a dash of Taiwanese pepper salt, and a tablespoon or two of beef stock (if not available, replace the chicken powder with beef powder). This is closer to the street style version but is very good, especially if you’ve perfected the flavors well enough!
So here’s the recipe and I hope you enjoy it!
Egg Fried Rice
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 5-10 minutes
- 1-2 cups of cooked plain short-grain fried rice (left in the refrigerator overnight)
- 2 large eggs
- 2-3 stalks of chopped spring onion (if you’re substituting with leeks, 1 is enough)
- 1 teaspoon light soy sauce
- 1 teaspoon chicken powder (half a cube of chicken bouillon, this is optional but it makes it taste closer to Din Tai Fung style)
- 4 tablespoons of oil
- 6-8 prawns, shelled and deveined, or about 1 cup of meat of choice (usually, Chinese ham is also a good choice)
- Optional: 1 clove of garlic, finely minced (do not add more as it will make the dish taste different)
- In a wok, heat about 1 teaspoon of oil (if you’re using a seasoned wok, make sure to heat it enough before adding the oil so that it becomes non-stick). Add the prawns or meat. Once cooked, set the meat or prawns aside.
- Add the rest of the oil into the wok and add the eggs, scrambling them onto the wok. Don’t allow the eggs to completely cook right away.
- Immediately add the overnight fried rice and toss, loosening the clumps and making sure that each grain of rice is coating with the egg, and the oil.
- Once the rice changes into a yellow color from the egg and is fragrant, Add the garlic, chicken powder/bouillon cube, light sauce, and stir fry.
- Add the spring onions and stir fry.
- Add the prawns/meat and stir fry. Serve right away and enjoy!