Fried rice is a staple of Chinese cuisine — and for good reason. The exact origin of this classic dish is up for debate, but a quick search online will prove that historians agree that it was invented as early as the Sui dynasty. For those keeping track at home, that timeline places the very first bowl of fried rice sometime between the years 589 and 618 A.D.
The best part of this traditional comfort food? It’s not only delicious and beginner-friendly, but you can also easily put your very own twist on it with ingredients you may already have in your cabinets. In fact, today we’re going over one of the most popular (and delicious) variations out there: authentic pork fried rice.
Grab your spatula and your favorite ground pork, because you’re about to learn how you can skip your usual take-out order and instead opt for a tasty, homemade version of authentic pork fried rice.
What’s in pork fried rice?
It may be easier to ask what isn’t in pork fried rice! There are no specific rules when it comes to the ingredients you use to create this dish, as you can truly tweak it to you and your diners’ flavor preferences. However, before we get into that, it’s important to understand the origins of pork fried rice and what makes this food so unique.
The humble beginnings of an internationally beloved dish
Although classic pork fried rice dates back several centuries, it’s clear to see why the dish has such staying power. Originally, fried rice was created as a way to give new life to leftovers. In traditional Chinese cuisine, rice is typically seen as the foundation of most meals rather than the star of the show. Its basic flavor serves as the base upon which well-seasoned meat and vegetables can really stand out.
However, at some point during the Sui dynasty, everyday families took that concept and turned it on its head (or should we say bowl?)
By combining day-old rice or any leftover ingredients from weekly meals, the average person could take scraps from one meal and turn it into a family feast. Thus, the concept of fried rice was born. While it entered the kitchen of necessity, pork fried rice is now a treat in Chinese cuisine as well as in restaurants around the world.
Just some of the reasons it’s remained so popular, especially for chefs at home, include:
- An all-in-one meal: Pork fried rice is the perfect main dish. It features veggies, whole grains, lean protein and truly anything else you’d want out of a nutritious meal.
- Little to no shopping involved: We’ve all been there. You’re excited to try a new recipe for the first time, you set up your kitchen to begin and … you’re missing that one obscure ingredient that’s central to the dish. Fortunately, fried rice is the perfect dish to clean out the cabinets and fridge to ensure nothing you already have goes to waste.
- Quick and easy: Fried rice was made for those weeknights you barely have enough time to eat — let alone cook. As we’ll cover shortly, this recipe moves fast.
Although no Chinese pork fried rice recipe is the same, the “standard” base typically includes the following:
- Vegetables such as carrots, ginger, broccoli, peas and green onion.
- Cold rice.
- Ground pork or boneless pork loin chopped into small bites.
For its sauce, fried rice uses many of the staple ingredients you’ll see in most other Chinese-inspired recipes, including soy sauce, hoisin and sesame oil.
With all of that in mind, just know that when we say authentic or classic pork fried rice, it really means however you define classic. So long as you’re enjoying the meal with family and friends, or even creating a simple dish for yourself, you’ve captured the dish’s full spirit.
Steps for preparing and cooking authentic pork fried rice
Remember: No fried rice recipe is the same. This dish was made to use up those leftover ingredients in your vegetable crisper or even frozen bags taking up space in the freezer. That being said, the following steps can kick off your flavor adventure. Feel free to add, subtract or tweak as you go.
1. Dice, chop and slice your way through your veggies
Our most helpful piece of advice is to dice any vegetables you’d like to add to your meal in advance. Pork fried rice cooks in just about 10 minutes, so it’s best to not have to jump between the cutting board and your frying pan. A bit of prep before you begin cooking helps to minimize any stress and gives you plenty of time to focus while you’re cooking.
2. Scramble those eggs
Once you’ve prepared all of your vegetables, it’s time to get cooking. Heat one tablespoon of vegetable oil in a wok or frying pan. If you have a nonstick pan in your kitchen, this will not only help the meal cook more evenly, but also minimize some of the clean-up for you on the other side.
Using medium-high heat, wait until your oil begins to “shimmer.” For our newer chefs out there, that’s just the cooking world’s way of describing oil that is warm but not too warm. You’ll start to see the vegetable oil start to spread out and ripple across your pan of choice.
From here, add two eggs and gently scramble to your desired texture. Once they’re properly fluffy, transfer them to a plate and set them aside.
3. Add your vegetables and your pork of choice
Be sure to wait until your meat is thoroughly cooked and your veggies are tender before adding any other ingredient. If you’re planning to add a white onion to your meal, place it in the frying pan and let it sizzle for five minutes before adding the rest of your ingredients, as it will take a little longer. And if you’re using up any bags of frozen vegetables such as peas or carrots, wait for the next step until you add those.
The most accurate way to tell if your pork is fully cooked is by using a meat thermometer. This can be a little trickier when using ground pork, however. If you’re seeing clear or faintly pink juices in your pan after five minutes, the meat is likely ready. It’s also important to remember that pork can be safely enjoyed medium-rare.
Another option here is to use leftover pork instead. It will warm through as your vegetables cook, and help make some room in your fridge. For some extra flavor, we recommend trying the dish with BBQ pork.
4. Bring it all together
Add two more tablespoons of vegetable oil, letting it heat for about 30 seconds. At this stage, put any remaining ingredients into the pan, including about two cups of cold rice (we’ll cover why that’s important shortly!)
Stir everything together until the rice is heated through, and finally, return your scrambled eggs to the pan. There are a few different seasonings that really give pork fried rice that authentic flavor. Some of the most classic sauces to add are soy sauce, oyster sauce, and fish sauce. All three help to create a bold, memorable flavor profile, but it’s important to add a little at a time. Instead, use less than you might think you need, tasting the dish as you do, gradually adding more until you’re happy with the flavor.
All in all, the cooking process will take just under 10 minutes. With a bit of chopping and frying, you have a delicious meal for up to four people — or to enjoy all for yourself throughout the week. We won’t tell if you don’t plan to share!
Helpful tips and other considerations
Can I prep this dish in advance?
Short answer: Absolutely. The longer answer is that you have a handful of options here. For one, you could prep your vegetables the night before to eliminate any chopping once you’re ready to cook. Or, you can fully cook the meal on Sunday and enjoy it throughout the week.
To maximize the shelf life of leftover fried rice for safety and quality, be sure to use airtight containers. This keeps bacteria out, moisture in, and prevents odors from seeping into your fridge. As delicious as this dish is, you probably don’t want your refrigerator to carry Eau de Fried Rice for weeks on end.
Why is it so important to use cold or leftover rice?
A steaming, fresh bowl of fluffy white rice certainly sounds tasty, but isn’t the best for this dish. Warm rice will not fry as well and can result in soggy or sticky clumps.
If you want to make fried rice but aren’t sure when you’ll have the time, one trick is to make double the amount in another recipe and freeze anything that you have leftover. Once it’s time to cook, all you have to do is add the rice to your frying pan, and it’ll thaw almost immediately.
Can I substitute any of the ingredients?
No fried rice recipe is complete without a substitution or two. As long as you have rice and pork, you can truly alter this dish to your liking. You can use white or brown rice, opt not to include eggs, or get more creative with the sauces you add. It’s the ultimate cooking adventure — all in 10 minutes or less!
Cooking with high-quality pork
One of the easiest ways to truly elevate the flavor of your pork fried rice is to use high-quality ingredients, starting with your pork.
At Hatfield®, we’re proud to offer a variety of pork products that are simply delicious. We believe mealtimes should be spent not only enjoying rich, incredible food, but also spending quality time with loved ones. That’s why an easy-to-make dish like pork fried rice can be the perfect weeknight solution or even a new family favorite.
Ready to get cooking? Explore our full range of products and find us in a store near you.