Travelling around the world will mean you discover so many simple fried rice dishes, many of which can be cooked up on the street in less than 2 minutes!
Wherever you are in the world, you can be sure of finding some tasty fried rice. All over Asia, it is a great way to save food when you collect the leftovers of a rice dish and then fry it the next day. This obviously eliminates the possibility of bacteria forming, and prevents housewives from throwing away expensive leftovers! I want to share some of my favourite varieties of fried rice below!
Khao Phat (ข้าวผัด) means “Thai Fried Rice” and is made by using Thai Jasmine rice instead of regular long-grain rice. It normally contains meat (chicken, shrimp, and crab are all common), egg, and sometimes tomato. The seasonings, which may include soy sauce, sugar, salt, possibly some chili sauce, and the ubiquitous nam pla (fish sauce), are stir-fried together with the other ingredients. The dish is then plated and served with accompaniments like cucumber slices and lime. Thai fried rice has many regional variants, as it is a widespread dish, but wherever you go in Thailand you will certainly see it sold somewhere!
My best ever Khao Phat? Midnight on Khao San Road from a random street vendor, enjoyed with a delicious chunk of kai yang and a Coke.
Nasi Goreng (literally meaning “fried rice”) is an Indonesian dish that is traditionally served at home for breakfast and it is traditionally made out of leftover rice from the night before. Besides ingredients like shallot, tomato, pepper and chili, the rice is fried with scraps of chicken or beef. Nasi goreng is distinguished from other Asian fried rice recipes by its generous amount of kecap manis, and the taste is stronger and spicier compared to most other varieties of fried rice. Nasi goreng also often includes krupuk and bawang goreng (fried shallots) or (fried onions) to give a crispier texture.
My best ever nasi goreng? Too many to mention, but I had some delicious rice in Medan on my way back from Lake Toba from a roadside warung.
Biryani is known as something of an Indian rice dish that the Mughals introduced, but another theory claims that the dish was known in South Asia before the Mughal Era was seen in India. There are references to a dish of “fried” rice, flavoured with various aromatic spices and condiments in ancient texts of India, which were enjoyed by the ruling classes. There was a traditional culinary preparation native to Bengal where semi-cooked fish was steamed with rice, letting the rice absorb its aroma, in a covered earthen pot, in a manner in which biryani is prepared. Chicken is a very popular meat to add to the biryani.
My best ever biryani? Never tried it in India, but enjoyed some chicken biryani in a hawker in Singapore called Rasapura Masters.
Lu Rou Fan is tentatively known as the national dish of Taiwan. It consists of finely chopped pork belly that has been mixed in with fried rice (sometimes the rice is not fried, but steamed). Usually an egg will be added for good measure. Lu Rou Fan is classic comfort food and can be eaten in the homes of Taiwanese people or consumed as street food in the country’s many night markets.
My best ever Lu Rou Fan? Surprisingly, I didn’t eat any in the night markets of Taipei, but I did find a little café in Da’an district that served up this comforting dish! The rice and the pork belly complemented each other perfectly!
Kabsa is mainly made from a mixture of spices, rice (usually long-grain, mostly basmati), meat and vegetables. There are many kinds of kabsa and each kind has a uniqueness about it, although the Saudis consider it their national dish. The spices and rice used in kabsa are largely responsible for its taste and texture. The main ingredient that accompanies the spices is the meat, such as chicken, goat, lamb, camel, or sometimes beef, fish, or shrimp. In other parts of the Middle-East this rice dish can be known as machboos.
My best ever kabsa? Never tried it, but next time I hit up the Middle-East, I will look out for it!
Ohn Htamin heralds from Myanmar and while not a fried rice dish per se, it is actually made from coconut oiled rice, which the Burmese people eat with a passion. Of all the rice dishes in Myanmar, this one seems to be the most popular, and the meats used here is merely optional, rather than an important part of the dish.
My best ever Ohn Htamin? A street vendor at Mandalay Hill served up some amazing Ohn Htamin, and it helped give me back some energy after such a strenuous climb! I can’t wait to go back for more!
Bokkeumbap is a general Korean dish of fried rice (bokkeum means “frying” and bap is the word for “rice”). Over in Korea, this simple dish can be lined with any ingredients possible, with nakji (octopus), kimchi, and vegetables being popular choices. As street food, bokkeumbap can be served on newspaper cones or in plastic trays, but it is not uncommon for Koreans to use this form of fried rice as the base of a very hearty meal indeed!
My best ever bokkeumbap? Any of the main street food locations of Seoul, such as Gangnam, Hongdae, or Myeongdong serve up some fantastic rice, but the night market of Myeongdong has to be the ultimate place for bokkeumbap!
Chahan is Japanese fried rice and is often eaten with chopsticks. It has its origins in China and as such is quite similar to Chinese rice dishes. Japanese chefs pride themselves on the presentation of their food (a process known as kawaii) and it’s likely your chahan will be served to you in a small upside-down shaped bowl, rather than in messy grains of rice dumped on the plate. Plenty of vegetables – and perhaps some egg – will be added to this version of fried rice.
My best ever Chahan? A small café outside my hotel in Shinjuku, Tokyo, has some very cheap fried rice that made me go back for seconds the following day!
Are you a fan of fried rice? Or do you wish it was just thrown away the previous night with the leftovers? Which dish is your favourite?