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Recipes: The secret to great homemade fried rice

Three spins on a favorite dish.

Broccoli and Kimchi Fried Rice With “Poached” Eggs.Connie Miller/of CB Creatives

Home cooks across Asia know that the secret to perfect fried rice is using previously cooked, chilled rice. That’s because freshly cooked rice results in a soggy, gluey dish, but chilling it changes its starches, yielding light, separate grains. So for a quick but boldly flavored weeknight meal, be sure to plan ahead.

Crispy pancetta stands in for pork belly in our take on Thai fried rice while fish sauce, soy sauce, sugar, and lime brighten the flavor. In a Japan-inspired dish, diced ham pairs well with plump edamame stir-fried with egg, scallions, rice vinegar, and mirin, a slightly sweet rice wine. And spicy Korean kimchi quickly adds complexity to fried rice with broccoli and runny-yolk eggs.

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Broccoli and Kimchi Fried Rice With “Poached” Eggs

Makes 4 servings

For a twist on standard fried rice, we don’t just scramble an egg or two into the mix. Instead, we “poach” a few in hollowed-out areas of the fried rice until the whites are just set and the yolks are deliciously runny. While the eggs cook, the rice forms a golden brown, nicely crisped bottom crust.

You will need a 12-inch nonstick skillet with a lid for this recipe. Remember to create wells in the rice to hold the eggs, and be sure they’re deep enough to expose the surface of the skillet. If the wells are too shallow, the eggs will take longer to cook and the bottom of the rice may get too dark.

4 tablespoons grape-seed or other neutral oil, divided

1 pound broccoli crowns, cut into ½- to 1-inch florets

1 bunch scallions, thinly sliced, whites and greens reserved separately

4 cups cold, cooked short-grain white rice

1 cup cabbage kimchi, roughly chopped, plus 2 tablespoons kimchi juice (or water)

3 tablespoons soy sauce

1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil

Kosher salt and ground black pepper

4 large eggs

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In a 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium-high, heat 1 tablespoon of oil until shimmering. Add the broccoli and stir to coat. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until well charred and tender-crisp, 7 to 8 minutes. Transfer to a plate and set aside.

In the same skillet over medium-high, heat the remaining 3 tablespoons oil until shimmering. Add the scallion whites and cook, stirring, until fragrant, 30 to 60 seconds. Stir in the rice, breaking up any clumps, then cook, stirring occasionally, until heated through, 2 to 3 minutes. Return the broccoli to the pan and add the kimchi and juice, soy sauce, and sesame oil. Stir, then taste and season with salt and pepper.

Reduce the heat to medium-low. Using the back of a spoon, form 4 evenly spaced wells in the rice, each about 2 inches wide and deep enough that the pan is visible. Crack 1 egg into each, then sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cover and cook until the egg whites are set but the yolks are still runny, 4 to 5 minutes, rotating the skillet about halfway through for even cooking. Serve sprinkled with the scallion greens.

Fried Rice With Edamame and Ham.Connie Miller/of CB Creatives

Fried Rice With Edamame and Ham

Makes 4 servings

This recipe works with long-, medium-, or short-grain rice — no adjustments are necessary based on variety. Savory-sweet Japanese furikake — a seasoning blend — sprinkled on each portion is a tasty flourish.

No need to thaw the edamame, as the beans will thaw and cook directly in the skillet.

4 cups cooked rice, chilled

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4 tablespoons grape-seed or other neutral oil, divided

3 large eggs

2 ounces sliced deli ham, cut into ½-inch pieces

1 bunch scallions, thinly sliced, white and green parts reserved separately

1 cup frozen, shelled edamame

1 tablespoon soy sauce, plus more to serve

1 tablespoon unseasoned rice vinegar

1 tablespoon mirin

In a medium bowl, toss the rice with 2 tablespoons of oil until evenly coated, breaking up any clumps, then set aside. In a small bowl, beat the eggs until well combined, then set aside.

In a nonstick 12-inch skillet set over medium-high heat, add 1 tablespoon of the remaining oil and heat until shimmering. Add the ham and scallion whites, then cook, stirring constantly, until the ham begins to brown and the pieces no longer stick together, about 2 minutes. Add the edamame and cook, stirring, until warmed through, about 2 minutes. Transfer to a bowl and set aside.

In the same skillet over medium-high, heat the remaining 1 tablespoon oil until shimmering. Add the rice and cook, stirring to break up any lumps, until warmed through, about 2 minutes. Push the rice to one side of the pan and add the eggs to the clearing. Cook, stirring and pulling the eggs away from the rice, until mostly set but still glossy, 30 to 60 seconds.

Reduce to medium-low heat and stir in the ham mixture, breaking the eggs into small pieces. Remove from the heat and stir in the soy sauce, vinegar, mirin, and scallion greens. Serve with additional soy sauce on the side.

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Thai Fried Rice

Makes 4 servings

We like the aromatic flavor of jasmine rice, but long-grain white or basmati works, too. A good Thai fish sauce is essential; at Milk Street we use Red Boat. Chef Andy Ricker, who taught us a version of this recipe in Thailand, uses pork belly, but that can be hard to find. Pancetta works well as a substitute — it has the right amount of salt and fat. Plain bacon will do the job, too, but avoid smoked bacon.

1 tablespoon Thai fish sauce

1 teaspoon soy sauce

1 teaspoon white sugar

4 cups cooked and chilled jasmine rice

1 tablespoon peanut or vegetable oil

2 eggs, lightly beaten

4 ounces thinly sliced pancetta, chopped

4 scallions, white and green parts thinly sliced, reserved separately

1 large shallot, minced

1 garlic clove, minced

¼ cup minced fresh cilantro

Sliced cucumber, lime wedges, and pickled chilies, to serve

In a bowl, stir together the fish sauce, soy sauce, 1 teaspoon water, and the sugar. Set the mixture aside. Use your hands to break up the rice so no clumps remain, then set aside.

In a 12-inch nonstick skillet set over medium-high heat, add the oil and heat until just smoking. Pour in the eggs and cook, stirring, until just set. Transfer the eggs to a plate. Add the pancetta to the skillet and cook over medium heat until crisp. Using a slotted spoon, transfer to the plate with the eggs.

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Pour off all but 1 tablespoon of the fat from the skillet and return it to medium-high heat. Add the scallion whites, shallot, and garlic, then cook until softened, about 1 minute. Add the rice and cook, stirring occasionally, until heated through, about 2 minutes.

Stir the fish sauce mixture, then pour over the rice. Cook, stirring, until well mixed. Stir in the pancetta and egg, breaking up the egg. Transfer to a large platter and sprinkle with cilantro and scallion greens.

Serve with cucumber, lime wedges, and pickled chilies.



Christopher Kimball is the founder of Milk Street, home to a magazine, school, and radio and television shows. Globe readers get 12 weeks of complete digital access, plus two issues of Milk Street print magazine, for just $1. Go to 177milkstreet.com/globe. Send comments to magazine@globe.com.