Last Updated: August 4, 2020
If you’re up to date on your Internet trends and memes, you would’ve seen this reaction video to a fried rice recipe floating around recently.
I have to say, for anyone who cooks, the video and the following article is not for the faint-hearted. The BBC recipe video not only breaks a few unspoken rules when it comes to Asian cooking, it crashes through and completely demolishes those rules.
Egg fried rice is one of those staples when it comes to Chinese food—a simple dish that’s so easy to cook—so naturally, something had to go wrong.
If you haven’t already seen the video, take a few minutes out of your day and watch it.
Then come back, and read on to find out whether this recipe actually works. Can a disastrous Egg Fried Rice Recipe actually produce an edible, delicious dish? I’m on a mission to find out.
Preparation time: 5 minutes; Cooking time: 15 minutes
Feeds one to two
Step 1: Tip the rice into a medium saucepan. I didn’t have a saucepan that was big enough, so I ended up using a small pot.
There’s already been so much said on the Internet about how the host didn’t wash the uncooked rice. Aside from the horrified gasps at how “un-Asian” it is, there’s actually a culinary reason.
Washing uncooked rice removes the surface starch, which helps to prevent gummy, sticky cooked rice, and helps to even out the water absorption. In other words, it’s what helps to ensure you get fluffy rice.
Step 2: Add 300ml water and bring to boil.
Right off the bat, this looked like too much water to me. I’ve always been taught to measure rice and water ratio the Asian way—using the index finger.
Step 3: Reduce the heat, cover with a lid and simmer for 10 minutes.
I was pleasantly surprised that the rice wasn’t as wet as I thought it would be. I did note that there was a fair amount of moisture when I scooped up a little of the rice, making it closer in texture to Teochew porridge.
Step 4: Remove from the heat, drain off any excess water and leave to steam dry, uncovered in the pan until ready to use.
The truly unsettling part was following the video and running the cooked rice under water, in a colander. What did they think this was, pasta? I died a little inside as I drained the cooked rice.
To be fair, I’ve seen claims that South Asian cooking involves washing the rice after cooking—though you have to note that they’re talking about basmati rice here, instead of the short-grain white rice that most East Asians use for fried rice.
Step 5: Heat a tablespoon of the oil in a frying pan or wok over medium heat.
Step 6: Add the eggs and cook, stirring, until scrambled. Transfer to a plate and return the pan to the heat.
To be frank, I was quietly horrified at how dry the eggs turned out. And to think that I’d have to re-cook it again with the fried rice.
Step 7: Heat the remaining tablespoon of oil in the pan over high heat.
Step 8: Add onion and red pepper, then season with salt and pepper.
Again, this was very counter-intuitive for me. I had to pause for a while and consciously stop myself from frying the garlic and ginger first. If you cook often, you’ll know that you want to fry the garlic and ginger before anything else so that there’s more fragrance and flavour.
Step 9: Fry for 2 minutes, then add the garlic and ginger, if using, and fry for a further minute.
What got me here was the phrase “if using”—how can you cook fried rice without garlic and ginger? It’s a must, in my eyes.
Step 10: Reduce the heat to medium, add the cooked rice, spring onions, peas, if using, scrambled egg and soy sauce.
I had to substitute the peas for corn instead, as I couldn’t find any peas at home. I added in 1 tbsp of soy sauce, then ended up adding one more because I found the colour and flavour to be way too light.
Step 11: Toss together and cook for 3–5 minutes, or until heated through.
I was dreading the first bite a little. It really just didn’t look all that appetising. Egg fried rice needs to have a certain degree of greasiness to be satisfying, and this had neither the wok hei fragrance, nor the appealing gleam and colour of a hearty plate of fried rice.
One bite in, and my scepticism was proven right. The fried rice—if you could call it that—was bland, and frankly quite lifeless. Not adding the ginger and garlic first meant that the fragrance couldn’t fully permeate the entire dish, resulting in concentrated bursts of flavour in some bites, and complete blandness in others.
If you’re thinking about how to improve this recipe, I’d say a simple solution is to add oyster sauce and sesame oil when cooking. These two condiments are pretty common in most Asian households (especially in Singapore), and they pack a lot of flavour.
Soggy rice aside, you need to adjust the order of adding the ingredients, and garlic and ginger definitely go in first. A little trick I found when making egg fried rice—cook half of the beaten eggs first, until it’s almost cooked, like very liquid scrambled eggs, then add in the rest of the ingredients, including the other half of the beaten eggs.
Alternatively, if you ended up with soggy rice from the earlier steps, I’d recommend frying it for a bit to steam off the moisture. It doesn’t remove the excess moisture completely, but every little bit helps.
So, there you have it.
It’s a no from me, when it comes to BBC’s egg fried rice recipe. Of course, we can always try to be more gracious—after all, everyone has to start somewhere when it comes to cooking.
Why not look at this as a learning opportunity instead, and help each other along the way to becoming better cooks?
If there’s any other recipe you’d like us to try, let us know!