Whether you’re ordering Chinese food in the UK, the States or even in New Zealand, Yangzhou Chow Fan, commonly known as Special Fried Rice, is a perennial favourite. What makes this dish such a winner is its variety: you’re treated to a little bit of meat, veg, egg, and rice in every mouthful! To make a really stellar Special Fried Rice, simply follow our three ‘rules of thumb’. And if you’re after something extra special, try our Dumpling Sisters variations: Tim’s Fried Egg Special, and the Curry Special.
THE THREE RULES of THUMB
Overnight rice: The best rice for stir frying is cooked long grain white rice that has had a chance to cool and dry out a bit, usually overnight in the fridge. This allows the rice to become nice and toasty in the wok, and it also ensures that every grain gets coated in all of the lovely seasonings. What if you find yourself with a sudden craving for fried rice but no overnight rice at the ready? No worries. Simply cook the rice and let it cool, break it up on a baking tray, and pop it into the freezer for half an hour before frying.
Three meat and three veg: The ‘special’ part of Special Fried Rice comes down to the abundance and variety of good leiu, or ingredients. We recommend going for three meats and three veg of your choosing, chopped up into tasty little morsels.
Size and colour: Part of the appeal of Special Fried Rice is how lovely it looks, like an edible rainbow! To achieve this effect, choose meats and veg with bright and contrasting colours. To make sure that you get as many goodies as possible in each mouthful, chop all of the ingredients into small cubes that are approximately the same size as the peas. This will also help everything to cook evenly.
Our recipe serves four.
Note. Because fried rice is cooked in several stages, the oil is added gradually. The amount of oil specified in the ingredients list for Classic Special Fried Rice (2 ½ Tbsp) is the total amount required to cook the dish (excluding the eggs). See the instructions below for how much oil to add at each step.
1/8 tsp salt
1/4 tsp vegetable oil
1/2 Tbsp vegetable oil for frying
CLASSIC SPECIAL FRIED RICE
400g (uncooked weight) long grain white rice: cooked, cooled and refrigerated overnight.
2 1/2 tbsp vegetable oil
1 medium-sized carrot (approximately 80g), diced into small cubes
100g frozen peas
1/2 tbsp ginger, finely diced
1 clove garlic, finely diced
100g char siu pork, diced into small cubes [see homemade char siu recipe below]
100g cooked and peeled small prawns
100g cooked chicken, diced into small cubes
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp light soy
1/2 tbsp sugar
1/8 tsp pepper
5 tbsp cold water
2 sprigs spring onion, sliced into rounds
TIM’S FRIED EGG SPECIAL (for one serving)
1/2 tsp vegetable oil
1 tsp light soy sauce
fried shallots for garnish
CURRY SPECIAL (for the whole quantity of Classic Special Fried Rice)
1 1/2 tsp curry powder
2 tbsp water
sliced red chilli for garnish
LET’S GET STARTED!
1. Eggs: Crack the eggs into a large mixing bowl. Add the salt and ¼ tsp of oil. Whisk with a fork or a pair of chopsticks for one minute, until frothy. Put your wok on medium heat and add the ½ Tbsp of oil, followed by the eggs. Let the eggs set on the bottom for 10 seconds before moving them around gently with a spatula. Cook for a further 20 seconds until the eggs are partially set, then remove them from the wok and set aside.
2. Veg: Give your wok a quick wipe with a paper towel then put it onto high heat. When a wisp of white smoke appears, add ½ Tbsp of oil followed by the diced carrots. Stir fry for one minute before adding 1 Tbsp of the cold water. Cover and steam for one minute. Take off the lid and add in the peas, stir frying for a further minute before removing the veg from the wok.
4. Meat: With the wok on medium heat, add 1 Tbsp of oil followed by the diced ginger and garlic. Slightly brown the ginger and garlic for 15 seconds before adding the char siu, chicken, and prawns. Stir fry for one minute until the meat starts to blister around the edges.
5. Rice: Add the rice to the meat, using your spatula to loosen the grains and to get rid of any lumps. Add 1 Tbsp of oil, salt, light soy, sugar and pepper. Grab an extra spatula to help you flip the rice and to evenly distribute the seasonings and meat throughout – it helps to use a folding action as you would with a cake batter. Keep folding and tossing for a further two minutes to heat the rice right through.
6. Bringing it all together: Break up the cooked eggs with your spatula then add them to the rice along with the cooked veg. Continue folding and tossing for another two minutes to combine all of the ingredients. Add the remaining water and toss for another minute. Finally, add the spring onions and fold to combine.
Serve up your piping hot Special Fried Rice in rice bowls or on a big platter for sharing.
TO MAKE TIM’S FRIED EGG SPECIAL…
Heat a non-stick frying pan on medium-high heat. Add the oil and crack in an egg. Cook for 30 seconds until the egg white has just started to set, then drizzle the light soy sauce around the edge of the egg. Cook for a further 20 seconds so that the soy sauce caramelises and turns crispy. Gently lift the egg off the frying pan and slip it atop a bowl of Special Fried Rice. Sprinkle fried shallots on top and pierce the runny yolk with a sharp knife.
TO MAKE THE CURRY SPECIAL…
Fold the curry powder into the Special Fried Rice. It will turn a lovely bright golden colour. Add the extra water and toss for a further minute before serving up and garnishing with sliced red chillies.
HOMEMADE CHAR SIU PORK
600g pork shoulder, neck, or belly
½ tbsp honey
½ tbsp light soy sauce
2 tbsp dark soy sauce
½ tbsp rice wine
1 tbsp hoisin sauce
1 tsp sesame oil
½ tsp white pepper
⅛ tsp five spice powder
3 tbsp brown sugar
1 clove garlic
(optional: 8 drops of red food colouring)
1 tbsp honey or maltose
2 tbsp water
1. Combine all the marinade ingredients in a large bowl. Slice the pork into long strips about 5cm in width and add to the marinade. Use your hands to massage the marinade into the pork, cover, and leave to marinate in the fridge overnight.
2. Preheat your oven to 180 degrees Celsius. Line a baking tray with tin foil and set a wire rack on top. Arrange the marinated pork strips on the rack, leaving at least 2cm between each strip if you can. Keep the leftover marinade nearby.
3. Roast the pork in the centre rack of the oven. After 15 minutes, brush the pork with the leftover marinade, turn, and brush the other side. Roast for another 15 minutes until the pork is cooked through and the marinade has dried out. The pork slices will shrink considerably during this period and the outside will turn a deep red colour.
4. Make the glaze by mixing the honey or maltose with the water. Switch the oven to the grill setting at the highest temperature. Remove the tray from the oven and brush the glaze all over the surface of the pork strips. Return the tray to the oven and grill the pork with the door slightly ajar for 3-4 minutes until the edges blacken slightly, and you can see tiny beads of glaze foaming on the surface. Turn the pork and repeat for the other side.
5. Remove the pork from the oven and allow to cool to room temperature. Slice the pork into 3mm slices to show off the crimson ring around the outer edge, fanning out the slices to emphasise the effect if you wish. Serve at room temperature.