Three-Color Fried Rice: A universal dish

Diane Rossen Worthington/Tribune Media Services Originally Published April 4, 2013 at 12:00 a.m.
Updated April 2, 2013 at 5:52 p.m.
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No one really knows where fried rice originated, but one thing is for sure: Many countries have adopted it as their own dish with variations like Indonesian Nasi Goreng, Thai Fried rice, Sambal Fried Rice or Hawaiian Fried rice, just to name a few. It’s easy to understand why fried rice is such a universal dish. Rice is the common thread, an extremely inexpensive ingredient, along with ingredients indigenous to each country.

I was first introduced to this simple, yet tasty, dish as a young girl in a Cantonese restaurant. I remember the diced sweet barbecued pork and baby green peas as the flavor enhancers of the plain fried rice. Through the years, I have reinterpreted this dish for many a quick supper. It is especially easy to put together when the rice has been cooked ahead and chilled. I like to add the roasted peanuts for a crunchy surprise.

There are a few things to know about making fried rice:

• Chilled, cooked rice is essential for the correct texture. If the rice is warm, there will be too much moisture, and the end result will be mushy.

• Cook this in a wok; the wok must be very hot so that all ingredients will cook quickly.

• Don’t skimp on the oil because you want the rice to fry rather than just be heated through.

• Don’t crowd the pan. You can cook ingredients separately, then add back to the wok for the final cooking.

• Let the each ingredient sear in the wok, and do not touch it for at least 20 seconds before tossing it. This is important to develop the best color and texture.

The variations on this recipe are endless. If you don’t have barbecued pork, use Chinese sausage. If you like a vegetarian version, instead of meat, use your favorite vegetables like chopped carrots, zucchini, peppers, cauliflower or broccoli.

• For spicier flavor, add some hot chili paste or hot sauce like Sriracha.

Three-Color Fried Rice

Serves 6


3 cups cold cooked long-grain rice

2 eggs

1/4 cup peanut oil

1/4 pound uncooked medium shrimp, shelled and deveined, coarsely chopped

1 teaspoon dry sherry

1/2 cup dried black mushrooms, soaked in boiling water for 20 minutes, cut into 1-inch pieces

1/2 cup cooked barbecued pork, (Chinese -style), cut into 1-inch pieces

1/2 cup frozen petite pois (baby peas)

1/2 cup frozen corn kernels

1/4 cup chicken broth

2 tablespoons soy sauce

2 tablespoons thinly sliced green onions

1/2 cup roasted peanuts


To separate the rice grains, wet your hands and rub the rice grains. Place in a mixing bowl.

In a small mixing bowl, beat the eggs lightly. Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a wok on medium-high heat. When hot, add the eggs and stir continuously until soft curds form. Remove and set aside.

Turn up the heat to high. Heat another tablespoon of oil in the wok, swirling around to coat the sides. When the oil is hot but not smoking, add the shrimp and toss every 20 seconds for 1-2 minutes or until they just turn pink. Add the sherry and cook another minute. Remove and add to the cooked eggs, and reserve.

Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil on medium-high heat and add the rice. Toss every 20 to 30 seconds until it becomes lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Add the mushrooms, pork, peas, corn, broth, soy sauce and green onions and mix to combine. Add the cooked shrimp, eggs and peanuts, and stir the rice mixture until the egg is in small pieces and all the ingredients are heated through, about another minute. Taste for seasoning. Place in a serving bowl and serve immediately.

Diane Rossen Worthington is an authority on new American cooking. She is the author of 18 cookbooks, including Seriously Simple Holidays, and is also a James Beard award-winning radio-show host. Contact her at

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