The saltiness from the pancetta offsets the simple peas and carrots in this Pancetta Fried Rice, while the grease from frying the pancetta carries depth of flavor, which gets coated on each individual rice grain. If you prefer a crispy egg, the egg will add texture to the rice. If you prefer a runny egg, the yolk will add further richness to the rice.
Fried rice is beautiful because it hosts a variety of colors. I love cooking with colors because not only does it give you an eye-catching final dish, it also often means that you have multiple food groups covered, giving you a complete meal. Fried rice for breakfast might not seem like the most traditional option, but it's one of our favorites (especially for those mornings when you need some savory comfort food!), and it's so simple to put together.
Unlike baking, there's no real strict recipe that needs to be followed when making fried rice. I'm going to share my tried and true recipe to make Pancetta Fried Rice with you, but don't let it hold you back if you are short an ingredient or two. The beauty of fried rice is that you can always swap an ingredient out with minimal tweaks to the recipe. Here are five tips to help you achieve delicious fried rice regardless of which ingredients you use.
1. Use leftover rice
One of the most effective tricks to making fried rice is to use leftover rice. Rice can be quite sticky when it is just cooked, but letting it sit in the refrigerator overnight will dry out the individual rice grains, giving you fried rice that is loose, evenly flavored and with consistent texture.
If using fresh rice, cook the rice with slightly less water and spread it out to cool on a baking pan before using in the recipe. By spreading it out in the pan, the steam can escape easier, helping you avoid clumpy fried rice.
2. Use jasmine rice
Jasmine rice is my preferred choice because it's fluffy and sturdy at the same time. It's also incredibly fragrant. Jasmine rice grains don't clump together when cooked, but also don't fall apart because they are slightly sticky. If you don't have jasmine rice, try another variety of a long grain rice. Short grain rice is too moist and sticky for fried rice.
3. Pre-cook vegetables
Cook and drain vegetables before adding them to the fried rice. The reason for pre-cooking vegetables is twofold. First, vegetables often give off water when cooked. You don't want this "extra" water to in your fried rice because it will make it soggy. This is particularly true if you want to add a leafy green with moisture, such as spinach, to the fried rice.
Second, it takes longer for most vegetables to cook than the time it takes to stir-fry the fried rice together. Pre-cooking vegetables prevents the rice from burning because there's no need to wait for the vegetables to finish cooking. Once the rice is added to the wok, I often think of the stir-fry process as time to just mix the ingredients together, distribute the flavors into each rice grain, and evenly heat everything up.
4. Season meats separately
Cook and season any meats before adding it to the fried rice. Again, once you add the rice into the wok to stir-fry, all the ingredients should be cooked. The reason for seasoning the meats before adding it to the rice is that rice and meats take on flavoring differently.
For example, you can marinate meat in soy sauce for hours before cooking, and the meat wouldn't be too salty. But imagine adding that same amount of soy sauce to rice and trying to marinate the rice - it would absorb all the soy sauce, and be way too salty!
5. Leave the rice alone
Some recipes call for seasoning the fried rice with soy sauce or other liquid flavorings as you are stir-frying the fried rice, but I prefer to avoid all seasoning on the rice. The fluffy rice grains quickly absorb any liquid (such as soy sauce) that is added on it directly, so the seasoning is often unevenly distributed, leaving you with some extra salty rice grains. Adding liquid onto the rice grains also changes the texture of the rice, making it less chewy.
I try to season everything separately, and leave the rice plain. The cooking oil as you pan-fry the rice with the ingredients will coat each rice grain with seasoning that has rubbed off from the other ingredients.
You can see how these all tips are incorporated into the Pancetta Fried Rice recipe below. I love Pancetta Fried Rice because the saltiness from the pancetta offsets the simple peas and carrots in it. The grease from frying the pancetta also carries depth of flavor, which gets coated on each individual rice grain. If you prefer a crispy egg, the egg will add texture to the rice. If you prefer a runny egg, the yolk will add further richness to the rice.
The recipe is easy to make, but you'll have to make the difficult choice of -- crispy or runny egg on top? I prefer crispy.
Pancetta Fried Rice with Crispy Egg (GF)Print Recipe
- 1 cup uncooked Jasmine rice (or about 3 cups cooked rice)
- 2 medium carrots - diced into ½-cm pieces
- ½ cup frozen peas
- ½ cup diced pancetta - about 1-cm pieces
- salt - to taste
- white pepper - to taste
- 3 spring onions - thinly chopped
- 2 medium eggs - cooked to your preference
To make the rice (if starting with uncooked rice)
- Fried rice works best with leftover rice, but you can also make it with fresh rice. If using uncooked rice, rinse the rice in water and drain. In a small saucepan with a tight-fitting lid, add the rice and 1 cup water. Bring the water to a boil on high heat, then immediately turn the heat to low. Simmer for 15 minutes, covered. Remove from heat and let sit for 5 minutes with the lid still on.
- For best quality, gently spread the rice out on a baking tray to cool, so the steam has somewhere to escape and the rice can "dry".
To make the pancetta fried rice
- In a wok, add the carrots, peas and about 1 cup of water, so the carrots and peas are just covered. Bring to a quick boil and immediately turn down the heat to low. Simmer until the carrots are just starting to soften and the peas are cooked, about 5 minutes. Drain and set the carrots and peas aside.
- In the same wok, heat a bit of oil on medium heat. Add in the pancetta and pan fry until crispy, about 5 minutes.
- Turn the heat to medium-high. Add in the carrots and peas and stir fry until everything is well mixed.
- Add in the rice and fry until each grain of rice is heated through, breaking apart any clumps of rice with the spatula. Taste and add salt and pepper as desired. The pancetta will add flavor so be careful not to over salt.
- Garnish with spring onions.
- Serve with an egg cooked to your preference on top. I prefer a fried egg cooked on both sides, but it's also delicious with a runny egg.