Growing up, having fried rice for dinner was synonymous with "fridge clean-out day," meaning that any leftover vegetables and proteins from the night-or week-before were on their way to the wok. Those leftovers might be pieces of Chinese roast pork, bits of leftover chicken and baby bok choy, gai lan (Chinese broccoli) and corn—but when mixed with eggs and oyster sauce, they made a quick dinner that was ready in minutes.
This easy chicken fried rice recipe isn't the smorgasbord fried rice of my childhood. And it's not the greasy fried rice from your local Chinese takeout either. It's healthier and much more balanced. You basically get the best of both worlds, home cooking and high on flavor.
Made with whole-grain brown rice and loaded with nutritious vegetables and lean protein, this chicken fried rice recipe keeps the taste and texture of fried rice while cutting back on the sodium and calories.
So put down the takeout menu and learn how to make healthy chicken fried rice.
Get the Recipe: Cantonese Chicken Fried Rice
Using a large, seasoned wok (seasoned woks are naturally nonstick) and high heat, cook two large, lightly beaten eggs into a flat omelet in a little peanut oil for about 30 seconds per side. Transfer the omelet to a cutting board and cut into 1/2-inch pieces.
Feel free to go beyond chicken and choose your favorite lean protein, such as shrimp or pork tenderloin. For a vegetarian alternative, try meaty-textured seitan—a processed wheat gluten that is high in protein. Look for unseasoned seitan “strips” or “cubes” rather than flavored seitan. Cook the protein with minced scallions, garlic and ginger. This step flavors the meat while it's cooking.
Add tons of fresh vegetables, such as broccoli, zucchini, carrots and eggplant, to the protein in the wok. Cook for 2 to 4 minutes, or until your vegetables have softened and the protein is cooked all the way through. Transfer all the contents of the wok to a large plate.
Using cold brown rice (warm rice will stick to the wok), stir-fry the rice in oil until it's hot. Use two wooden spatulas to pull the rice from the bottom to the top, tossing all around, so all the rice is evenly coated with the oil and cooked, about 2 minutes.
Return the protein, vegetables and egg to the wok with the rice. Add the seasonings, such as reduced-sodium soy sauce, lime juice, Japanese ponzu sauce or oyster sauce and stir to combine. When you have the option, elect for reduced-sodium sauces, because prepared sauces like soy sauce add great flavor but are often very high in sodium. To keep the sodium down, take it easy on the salty Asian sauces and chose lower sodium options where possible.
Seasoned woks are naturally nonstick, which allows you to cook with less oil. Most are sold unseasoned; follow the manufacturer’s instructions for seasoning before use. If you don’t have a wok, a large cast-iron skillet is a good alternative.
You’ll need 2 cups cooked rice for 4 servings of fried rice. For extra fiber and nutrients, be sure to use brown rice. Use leftover rice or make a fresh batch and let it cool. To cool it quickly, spread on a large baking sheet and refrigerate until cold, at least 15 minutes. If it’s too warm, it will stick to the wok.
Before you begin cooking, cut ingredients into uniform, bite-size pieces to ensure even cooking. Measure out seasonings and place everything next to the stove. Once you turn on the heat, you can’t step away from the wok.
A very hot wok sears food quickly, locking in the best flavor. To test if yours is hot enough, add a drop of water before adding the ingredients—it should sizzle and evaporate instantly.