Chinese Turmeric Fried Rice, served with curls of sesame-scallion omelette, is a delicious way to use up any type of leftover rice. A gently-spiced Food To Glow favourite.
Fried rice is one of those comforting dishes that covers many culinary bases: as a post-pub, sop-up-the-booze snack; a thoughtfully-considered side dish with a larger Chinese meal; as a meal itself, studded with plenty of filling protein, as well as the usual peas, egg and onion.
It’s typical for fried rice to be a catch-all kind of dish, that needs no recipe. Who hasn’t come in late from work, looked at a Tupperware of cooked rice in the fridge and immediately knew what to do? Of course, you reach for the eggs, some onions (ignoring the green sprouts at the top), slightly bendy carrot, soy sauce, and boom! Dinner! You might have free-styled it with some powdered ginger and grated zucchini. Or found an open package of ham and rightly thought, “this’ll do.” And that’s perfectly fine.
We really don’t need a recipe for fried rice, do we?
But what if you want a more thoughtful meal? With the texture, taste and nutritional value of a dish with a higher calling. Chinese Turmeric Fried Rice, in fact.
We aren’t ditching the fridge clear-out though. Bendy carrots, sprouted onion and fridge-cold rice are most welcome in our more considered dish. Most especially the leftover rice. In fact, slightly old rice, rice that might not have even been properly sealed up, is perfect. Slutty domestic goddesses rejoice!
Let’s talk rice
For me, most any cooked rice will do. Sushi rice, brown basmati, regular white. Experts, however, have other opinions. The consensus, when you read around, is that long grain rice is the chosen one. It’s the rice used in southern and eastern China. Long grain, when rinsed before cooking, gives you individual grains of rice that resist the dreaded clumping together when stir frying.
But long grain is a broad church. Felicity Cloake, who perfects recipes for The Guardian, says that the subtle flavour of a good (long-grain) basmati is wasted in this dish. However, jasmine rice (again, a long grain), has a pleasing moistness, even after a spell in the cold. Most “proper” recipes ignore anything wholegrain. I’d say, if you use a shorter grain rice, be prepared for it to get a might mushy and a bit sticky. That won’t be a barrier to really enjoying the dish. But if you want the texture of the dish akin that in a Chinese restaurant, good old long grain is your friend. And if your palate is cool with wholegrain long grain, go for it.
Of course, your fried rice will quite possibly be at the mercy of whatever rice you made the night before. And that is fine.
One thing that is not disputed is that the rice needs to be cold. Freshly cooked, warm rice will give you a gloopy, oily fried rice. Kind of porridgey in texture, what with all of the stirring. You can purposely cook rice just to fry; it doesn’t need to be leftovers. But cold it must be. So, you need to pre-plan.
Unless! Unless you use a couple of pouches of cooked rice (e.g. Tilda brand): 2 pouches makes nearly 4 cups, which is exactly what you need here. Tilda do a great white and brown basmati mix. If you do cook rice on the day (how-to in the recipe card below), dump it onto a couple of trays, fan it with other trays (a workout!) and pop it in the fridge or freezer until cooled. Then toss it through with your fingers to separate the grains, if needed. Whatever you do, don’t use those boil-in-bag things. The rice in these convenient packs is invariably too starchy for decent fried rice.
What’s in this Chinese Turmeric Fried Rice
Some of the usual suspects are in this Chinese Turmeric Fried Rice, but of course I always want to add more veg. And of course, turmeric!
Rice – cold and preferably long grain (see above)
Turmeric – this is not typical but it lends a nice earthiness and great colour. Plus, it’s a good way of deliciously getting in some anti-inflammatory curcumin.
Broccoli, sugar snap peas, carrots, spring onions/scallions, ginger, chilli and garlic – cut about the same size for best results
Light soy sauce (low-sodium if possible) and kecap manis (bought, or here’s my two-ingredient recipe) or Japanese soy sauce – you can use just the former but both together give a nice depth of flavour
Toasted sesame oil – a must for me
Rice vinegar – cuts through the oil in the dish
Egg – this is where I have a bit of fun! See below
So, what’s the deal with the egg?
Most every Chinese fried rice calls for scrambling the egg right in the dish. And that’s great. I love it. In a restaurant, if I’m forced to share, I will eye up the distribution of the eggy bits, giving the evils to anyone who dares have too much. Yes, this is true. I am not proud of this.
But, I know some of us are a bit nervous of scrambling eggs into rice. We fear the egg clumping, white strands separating from the yellow, it all sticking to the pan. Of eggs basically misbehaving. To get around this, and provide a talking point – what is with the weird spiral thingies? – we are making a simple flat omelette. No folding, nothing scary.
To make the flat omelette, all you do is take the eggs, a little 5-spice powder, salt and pepper, add a little water and whisk them up. Pour into a medium hot, oiled pan, throwing on some sesame seeds and a little chopped scallion. Let it cook on the one side until only a tiny bit of wet egg remains in the centre. Then you flip it and let it set for 30 seconds before decanting to a cool plate and rolling into a cosy cylinder. Cut it into pleasing spirals before serving the fried rice. Easy, huh? And you can even make a vegan one by following my Vegan Spanish Omelette recipe (swapping that recipes add-ins for these).
Want even more protein?
For a more filling dish, why not consider adding one of the following?
Sautéed tofu or tempeh
Cooked edamame beans
Leftover shredded meats/chicken
Cooked brown lentils or chickpeas
Swap your rice for cooked, cooled quinoa!
What else can I add to my fried rice?
Feel free to really add what you have, such as :
Chopped bell peppers
Use regular peas instead of sugar snap peas
Cooked eggplant pieces
Swap out half of the cooked rice for riced cauliflower
Onions – this is typical to use but I didn’t have any on hand for this shoot!
You can also change up the flavour by adding some chopped kimchi at the end (cooking it destroys the gut-friendly enzymes). Or even adding small chunks of fresh pineapple!
Here are some other funky Chinese and East Asian recipe to try from Food To Glow.
More in my Recipe Index.
Baked Tofu Katsu Curry (my daughter thinks this is better than at our favourite Japanese restaurant!)
Tofu and Eggplant Basil-Lime Stir Fry – this is the second recipe I published on Food to Glow – those photos! I still make it 🙂
Chinese Turmeric Fried Rice with Sesame-Scallion Omelette
Served with curls of sesame-scallion flat omelette, this veg-filled Chinese "fakeaway' fried rice dish is an easy Food To Glow favourite.
- 4 eggs organic
- 1/4 tsp Chinese 5-spice powder optional
- white pepper and salt
- 2 tsp sesame seeds
- 4 scallions/spring onions ends trimmed; cut thinly at an angle
- 2 tbsp neutral cooking oil I use cold-pressed rapeseed (UK)
- 1 medium carrot diced into small cubes
- 100 g broccoli cut into roughly equal-sized manageable pieces
- 1 tsp turmeric ground or grated fresh
- 1/2 tsp black pepper freshly ground
- 3 garlic cloves peeled then minced or finely chopped
- 1 tbsp very finely sliced ginger more to taste
- 1 red chilli deseeded and chopped - optional
- 800 g cooked cooled rice US: 4 cups; I use brown rice
- 100 g sugar snap peas cut at an angle; or use blanched frozen green peas
- 2 tsp light soy sauce
- 2 tsp kecap manis optional; or sweet Japanese soy sauce
- 1/2 tsp toasted sesame oil
- 1 tsp rice vinegar or lemon juice
- 2 medium ripe tomatoes sliced; optional
- leaf coriander/cilantro optional
First of all, let's make the omelette. Heat a little of the oil in a small non-stick skillet. Beat the eggs with a teaspoon of water and the 5-spice powder if using, seasoning with a little salt and white (or black) pepper. Pour into the pan, swirling gently to cover the bottom. Sprinkle over the sesame seeds and a few of the sliced scallion pieces. Cook until all but the centre of the omelette is cooked. Flip the omelette and cook for a further 30 seconds. Turn out onto a cool plate. Roll the omelette up into a cylinder, cover with a tea towel and set aside.
Heat the remaining oil in a well-seasoned or non-stick wok, over a medium-high flame. Add in the carrot, broccoli, turmeric, black pepper, garlic, ginger and chilli, stir frying for up to five minutes. Add the scallions and cook for one minute. Now turn up the flame to high. This is important to prevent sticking. Immediately add in the cooked cooled rice, sugar snap peas (or blanched frozen peas), soy sauce, kecap manis (optional) and fold over until everything is well-mixed. Continue to stir fry for about 4-5 minutes, until the rice is thoroughly heated through. Stir in the sesame oil and rice vinegar or lemon.
Slice the omelette into little spirals and top each serving with some, as well as torn cilantro and sliced tomatoes. If you have any preserved Chinese vegetables or kimchi, add a small dollop of this as well.
Notes on the rice: The best fried rice has individual grains and a sturdy texture. For this to happen, the rice needs to be cooked and cooled: leftover rice is the best rice for fried rice. Freshly cooked and still warm will give you soggy, clumpy, oil-clogged fried rice.
If you need to cook it just before making the fried rice, rinse 1.5 cups of basmati rice with water until it runs clear, then add to a lidded pan. Pour over 2.5 cups of water and bring to the boil. Immediately cover (if your lid isn't a good seal, cover the pan with foil then add the lid) and turn the heat to the lowest simmer. Leave it undisturbed for 15 minutes. Then turn off the heat and leave a further five minutes. The rice should now be cooked and no water remaining. Spread the cooked rice over a couple of baking trays and fan them with other trays until the rice is a bit cooler. Pop them in your fridge for half and hour, or in the freezer for 15. This will help get closer to the texture you need.
Alternatively, use a couple of pouches of cooked rice from the supermarket.
Pin now. Make soon!