This easy house fried rice recipe is what you’ll find at your favorite Chinese restaurant also known as, “Cantonese Fried Rice”, “Special Fried Rice”, “Chicken Fried Rice”, or even “Pork Fried Rice” — and you can make it at home in just 30 minutes. Leftover rice crisped to golden brown with bits of, ham, shrimp, chicken, egg, vegetables, and simple fried rice seasonings make this one of the most delicious homemade fried rice recipes out there. And for anyone who may be new to making fried rice, I’ve included tips and step-by-step recipe photos below.
What is House Fried Rice (aka Yangzhou Fried Rice or Special Fried Rice)?
Yang zhou chao fan is a Chinese fried rice dish from the Jiangsu Province (the east coast of China) that evolved out of golden fried rice (aka egg fried rice) during the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) when chefs began adding more ingredients like meat, seafood, and even more vegetables.
Here in the west, we know Yangzhou fried rice as “Special Fried rice”, “House Fried Rice”, “Chicken Fried Rice”, or even “Pork Fried Rice” on our favorite Chinese takeout menu. And although there is an official standard recipe for this fried rice, you can use any combination of ingredients you have on hand. In fact, I’ve used pancetta (think bacon fried rice), chicken thigh, and shrimp because that’s what I had on hand.
The standard recipe for Yangzhou fried rice according to the Bureau of Quality and Technical Supervision of Yangzhou includes: Indica rice, eggs, cooked chicken thigh, Chinese ham, scallops, lake shrimp, mushrooms, bamboo shoots, and peas.
Why We Love This House Special Fried Rice Recipe
- Uses leftover rice cooked in homemade chicken stock adds extra flavor
- This fried rice comes together in just 30 minutes
- Using chicken thigh means tender juicy chicken even if you accidentally overcook it
- Seasoning the chicken with hoisin sauce adds extra flavor
- Makes a great side dish or main meal
- Use any leftover vegetables or proteins (even pancetta or bacon) in your fridge
- Make it a veggie fried rice by substituting the meat with all veggies of your choice
- Tastes just like your favorite takeout house fried rice (or better) without the msg
- You can make bulk and freeze it to reheat for easy lunches or weeknight dinners
What is the Secret to Good Fried Rice?
If you’ve ever wondered how to make Chinese fried rice, but it’s never tasted like your favorite neighborhood takeout, follow the below not-so-secret tips to make great homemade fried rice.
- Use an Indica variety of rice. The best rice for fried rice is long grain Indica rice like basmati or jasmine because the grains stay separated when cooked and don’t clump together like starchier rice varieties. Although, you may use regular long to medium-grain white American rice or Chinese white rice as well.
- Rinse rice thoroughly to remove excess starch. Washing the rice of excess starch allows the rice to stay separated when cooked which means crispier, better-textured fried rice.
- Soak the rice for a couple of hours before cooking. You don’t have to soak your rice before you cook it, but the Chinese chefs I know say that doing so will render a fluffier, fuller finished rice. And they always used steamed rice as opposed to boiled rice. But if you don’t have a steamer, you can still make a great fried rice by cooking it stovetop. Just be sure to remove the cooked rice to a baking tray and spread it out to help it cool faster and keep it from becoming mushy or over-cooked
- Cook rice in chicken stock. Cooking rice in homemade (or store-bought) chicken stock results in a more flavorful finished fried rice. Most Chinese restaurants use “chicken powder” (powdered chicken bouillon) as a shortcut instead which makes dishes super tasty because it’s full of msg and natural and artificial chicken flavoring, sugar, etc.
- Use leftover COLD rice. No matter what kind of rice you use to make fried rice, it should always be at least a day old and cold. You can even cook extra rice and freeze it just so you always have rice on hand to make fried rice.
- Use plenty of oil. Making great homemade fried rice requires using plenty of oil, to keep the grains of rice separate. Just go with it.
- Use a pinch or two of sugar. This is a trick that many Chinese restaurants use for making really delicious fried rice. I add about 1/4 teaspoon of sugar plus a pinch more to 1 tablespoon of soy sauce in this recipe.
Best Way to Slice or Dice Meat for Chinese Fried Rice (even slippery chicken)
It goes without saying that using a sharp knife or Chinese cleaver to slice and dice meat for stir-fried dishes makes the task much easier. But to make it a total breeze, place the meat into the freezer for about 20 minutes or so to firm it up before cutting it. This method makes it really easy to cut thin, even slices of meat or small diced cubes of chicken, pork, etc.
House Special Fried Rice Ingredients
Feel free to substitute any ingredients in this recipe depending on what leftovers you may need to use up, or specific protein and vegetable preferences you may have. You can easily make chicken fried rice, pork fried rice, shrimp fried rice, or even beef fried rice using this special fried rice recipe as the foundation.
- 5 cups leftover cold rice (preferably cooked in chicken stock) (800g)
- 1/3 cup vegetable oil (80g)
- 3 ounces diced Chinese ham, Char Sui, Chashu, or cubed pancetta (90g)
- 3/4 to 1 cup chicken thigh meat diced (175-225g)
- 1/2 cup Argentinian red shrimp (about 8 shrimp) peeled, deveined, diced (115g)
- 4 eggs lightly beaten (200g)
- 1 large carrot, diced (about 5 ounces) (130g)
- 1/2 cup frozen green peas (150g)
- 1/2 of medium zucchini (4 ounces), diced (115g)
- 3 shitake mushrooms, stems removed
- 4 spring onions, finely sliced (white and green parts separated)
- 1 shallot, diced (sub 2 tablespoons regular onions)
- 2 garlic cloves, smashed
- 1-inch piece of fresh ginger, sliced
- 2 tablespoons Shaoxing wine separated into 2 prep bowls (30g)*
- 1 tablespoon hoisin sauce (for marinating chicken) (15g)
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce (15g)
- 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon sugar (optional but recommended) (1-2g)
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt, or more to taste
- 1 to 3 whole spicy chilis (optional)
- 1/8 teaspoon white pepper (0.25g) (optional)
*If you can’t find Shaoxing wine, use dry sherry in a 1:1 ratio or just omit the ingredient altogether. If you’re thinking about using mirin, it’s acceptable if that’s all you’ve got (but it really has a totally different flavor than Shaoxing wine and it’s also a bit sweet which would still taste nice in this dish).
How to Make Chinese House Fried Rice at Home
I recommend using a 14 or 16-inch wok to make this fried rice, but you can use a large carbon steel, cast iron, or non-stick skillet (so long as it has a non-stick coating that allows it to reach high temperatures without leeching out toxic materials). If your pan or wok is on the small side, cook the fried rice in 2 batches.
- Marinate the chicken. Add the diced chicken thigh meat to a bowl and combine it with 1 tablespoon (15g) of hoisin sauce and set aside. Add the sugar to the soy sauce, stir to combine, and set aside until ready to use.
- Stir-fry the shrimp. Heat the wok to high heat, drizzle just a little oil (about 1 teaspoon) and add the diced (or whole shrimp), sprinkle with salt to taste, and stir-fry just until opaque and cook for 1 1/2 minutes and drizzle 1 tablespoon of Shaoxing wine over the shrimp tossing to coat. Continue cooking for about 30 to 45 seconds more, or until the shrimp are just cooked through and opaque. Remove to a plate.
- Stir-fry the ham (pancetta) & chicken. Drizzle about 1 tablespoon of the oil into the wok and add the pancetta (char siu, chashu, or ham), and stir-fry for 1 minute. Add the chicken, sprinkle with salt to taste, and stir-fry for 3 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked through. Add 1 tablespoon of Shaoxing wine to deglaze the wok and stir-fry for 1 minute. Remove the chicken and ham to a platter.
- Stir-fry the vegetables & aromatics. Add about 2 tablespoons of the oil to the wok, add the garlic, ginger, scallions, shallots, and chilis (if using) and stir fry for 30 seconds. Add the mushrooms, carrots, and zucchini, add salt to taste, and stir-fry for 2 minutes. Add the vegetable mixture to the platter with the chicken and ham and add the peas. Set aside while you fry the egg and the rice.
- Stir-fry the egg. Once the wok heat has recovered, add about 2 teaspoons of oil, and when it sizzles add the eggs and let them cook without touching them for about 45 seconds, or until the sides are fluffy and bubbly. Start to break up the eggs using the spatula and cook for another 45 seconds, or until cooked through. Add the eggs to the platter with the vegetables and meat while you cook the rice.
- Stir-fry the rice & finish the dish. Add the remaining tablespoon of oil to the wok, add the rice tossing well to coat, and cook for about 3 minutes. Add the meat and vegetables (except for the shrimp) and stir-fry for 1 minute. Add the soy sauce mixture, toss well to combine, and stir-fry for 3 more minutes until some of the rice on the bottom is crispy, toss in the shrimp to warm through, add salt to taste if needed, remove from heat, and serve immediately, Enjoy!
Chinese Special Fried recipe step-by-step photos
Looking for a Few More Delicious Dim Sum or Asian Dishes?
If you’re looking for a few other dishes to round out your takeout night in or to celebrate the Chinese New Year, below are a few of our favorites we think you may also enjoy.
- Lucky Lunar New Year Fried Cherry Pie “Wontons”
- Homemade Chinese Soup Dumplings Xiaolongbao (小笼包) (100% From Scratch)
- Easy Egg Drop Soup with Crispy Fried Wonton Strips (Danhuatang 蛋花湯)
- Thin + Chewy Homemade Chinese Wonton Wrappers
- Easy Homemade 2-Ingredient Chinese Dumpling Dough
- Takeout Style Pork and Green Bean Stir-Fry w/Glass Noodles
- Easy Pork and Chive Potstickers w/Sautéed Napa Cabbage & Carrots (Jiaozi)
- 20-Minute Singapore Mei Fun Noodles (Shrimp Mei Fun)
- Best Ever Chicken Dumplings Recipe (Plump & Juicy Jiaozi)
- Easy Shrimp and Vegetable Stir Fry (w/Cantonese Style White Sauce)
- Easy and Delicious Pork Potsticker Recipe (Cantonese Style Jiaozi)
- Crispy Pork and Chive Spring Rolls w/Glass Noodles & Vegetables
- Steamed Pork & Chive Money Bag Dumplings (Beggar’s Purse Dumplings)
- Hoisin Garlic-Ginger Oven-Braised Pork Ribs
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