The great news is that this whole fried rice situation is easily customizable to what you have on hand. The meat can be left out or swapped with another favorite. Other veggies can be added in. Soy sauce can be changed out for a gluten-free alternative.
All in all, it takes right around 30 minutes or less to make fried rice, and I don’t know how anyone could be mad about that.
There are a few key steps and ingredients that makes fried rice perfect in my opinion.
First, sesame oil.
Adding a little sploosh of sesame oil to the skillet before cooking the eggs adds an incredible amount of flavor. I prefer using toasted sesame oil for even more depth.
The eggs cook until just set and then they get scooted out of the way for just a minute so the white parts of the green onions and the garlic can get a quick sizzle.
We’re building levels of flavor little by little – and since they each only take a few minutes, this easy ham fried rice comes together FAST.
The best rice to use for fried rice
The second key to making perfect fried rice is to use cooked, cold rice. Using cold rice keeps the fried rice from getting mushy and creates the best texture for fried rice.
However, if you don’t have leftover chilled rice, hot just-cooked rice can be used. I’d be a hypocrite if I said I didn’t do this fairly often when leftover rice isn’t available but we still want a fried rice fix.
Just remember the texture won’t be quite the same as using cold rice. Cold rice is definitely preferred. But in the land of practicality, don’t stress if you have to go with hot, cooked rice.
Let’s talk rice varieties
Fried rice traditionalists might say long grain white rice is the only option. I’m not here to argue, but I will say that I generally use basmati or jasmine rice. And I’ve made this fried rice with both brown and white rice.
Once the rice is added to the skillet and it sizzles and pops it’s way to life for a few minutes, the eggs can come back in to the party.
The ham and peas get thrown on top, followed by the soy sauce, and everything cooks through until warm and ready to eat.
We serve the fried rice with extra soy sauce and the green parts of the onion.
The only thing better than this easy dinner of fried rice is eating leftover fried rice. It’s my favorite leftover lunch. And I eat it cold straight from the fridge.
I hope we can still be friends. (There are two kinds of people in this world: those who eat their leftovers cold and those who like to spend unnecessary time warming them up.) 🙂
Truly though, everyone needs a go-to fried rice recipe, and this easy ham fried rice is the best of the best. I love how the simplicity of such basic ingredients can make something so incredibly delicious.
Whisk together the eggs with a pinch of salt and pepper. Heat the sesame and olive oil in a 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add the eggs and let the mixture cook until set on the bottom, just a few seconds. With a rubber spatula turn the eggs slowly until mostly cooked. Scoot them to the side of the skillet.
If the skillet is dry, add another sploosh of oil (sesame or olive oil) to the center of the skillet. Add the garlic and the white parts of the green onions to the skillet and cook for 20-30 seconds, until sizzling (but not burning!) and the mixture smells fragrant.
Add the cold rice on top of the onions and garlic (keep the eggs mostly over to the side still), breaking the rice into clumps. Cook until the rice is sizzling and the clumps start to separate into smaller pieces, 3-4 minutes. Incorporate the eggs back into the rice mixture.
Add the chopped ham and peas and stir to combine. Add the soy sauce stir until evenly incorporated. Cook the fried rice until all the ingredients are heated through, 4-5 minutes.
Serve immediately with additional soy sauce, if desired, and the green parts of the onion. (If not serving with additional soy sauce, season to taste with additional salt and pepper, as needed.)
Cooking Rice: the key to really good fried rice is using cooked rice that is really cold. This keeps the fried rice from turning mushy. However, if you don’t have precooked rice on hand, you can use hot rice that’s just been cooked (as long as you are ok with a slightly different texture to the finished fried rice). When cooking the rice on the stove, use 1 1/2 cups water or broth for every cup of rice. In the Instant Pot, I use 1 cup rice to 1 1/4 cups liquid (4 minutes high pressure for white rice/22 minutes high pressure for brown rice).
Types of Rice: white or brown rice can be used. I usually use jasmine or basmati varieties.
Soy Sauce Substitute: a gluten-free alternative can easily be subbed. Liquid or coconut aminos or tamari would work great here. I’ve also subbed in or added oyster or hoisin sauce.
Other Substitutions: this recipe is easily customizable. It can be made meatless or any variety of cooked meat can be subbed in for the ham. Other vegetables can easily be added as well.
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