Japanese-Style Fried Rice (Chahan/Yakimeshi)
Once upon a time, when life was normal and we could do all that we then took for granted, Wagamama* was one of my favourite places to eat in. The food was/is delicious, of course, otherwise I’d be a fool to keep going back, but the Lincoln branch (set over the wharf) offers beautiful views too. It was a special experience slurping noodles while gazing over the sparkling water and taking in the view of the city. The Anglophile & The Japanophile in me would shake hands and be very happy in each other’s company.
This fried rice was one of my favourite things to eat there, but sadly, it got taken off the menu. So then the only thing to do was to replicate it at home. I make the vegetarian version but you could consider adding some chicken or prawns or anything else you fancy. Our favourite way to eat it is with some pan-fried salmon and garlic broccoli or bang bang cauliflower, but to be honest, the rice is a satisfying meal in itself if you’re in a rush.
Also, please don’t be put off by the ketchup or the sweetcorn in the rice – they are there to flavour, colour and the barely-there sweetness that is so characteristic of many Japanese dishes. If you so wish, you can balance the sweetness later with a bit of rice vinegar or lemon juice as suggested in the recipe. I feel the need to say this because I myself am usually not very keen on sweetcorn in many dishes and am uncertain of those that contain ketchup. Yet, here it works beautifully, otherwise there’s no way I’d be adding them.
There is a good reason I call this ‘Japanese-Style’ rather than ‘Japanese’ and that’s because I veer away from the authenticity path several times while making it in order to accommodate my family’s tastes. For example, the Japanese would use a short-grain rice instead of the jasmine that I have used here. They would partly scramble the eggs and then add the rice to it so the egg forms clumps of rice, I prefer to do it this way. You will see recommendations to start any fried rice off with cold, cooked rice but in this instance, it doesn’t make much difference. Which is not to say that you can’t use leftover cooked rice to make this. I have made it with leftover basmati rice, brown rice and sushi rice but making it this way starting from scratch with jasmine remains my favourite.
Important: No matter which rice you use, do not use any that is mushy, soft or overcooked. The grains should be firm. That is all I ask of you, dear friend.
Japanese-Style Fried Rice (Chahan/Yakimeshi)
- 2 cups UNCOOKED Jasmine rice or about 5 cups cooked
- 150 grams green beans about 30 in number
- 150 grams carrot 1 very large
- 4 tsp light soy sauce
- 2 tbsp tomato ketchup
- 1/2 cup sweetcorn
- 1 - 3 tsp lemon juice or rice vinegar
- 2 -3 eggs, beaten
- any unflavoured oil & salt as needed
- toasted sesame oil, chopped spring onions, sesame seeds, chilli oil as garnish/flavourings optional
- If starting with uncooked rice, cook either according to packet directions or follow my Instant Pot directions in the next step.
- (Please note that these instructions are for jasmine rice only - this won't work for other types of rice which may absorb less or more liquid) Add the 2 cups jasmine rice into the Instant Pot and cover with 2 cups of water. Add a tsp of oil and pressure cook on high for 5 minutes. Allow pressure to release naturally for 10 minutes, then open, fluff the rice and spread in a large bowl to cool to room temperature
- While the rice is cooking, prep & cook the vegetables.
- Wash the beans and top and tail them. Slice them in half lengthwise then cut each length into thirds, so you have six 1.5" pieces of beans. Repeat with all the beans. Peel and cut the carrot into similar pieces.
- Heat 1 tbsp oil in a medium frying pan over medium heat, then add the beans & the carrots. Fry, stirring regularly, for about 8 minutes until nearly done. Now add the sweetcorn, soy sauce and ketchup and continue to fry for a few more minutes until all liquid evaporates & the vegetables are done to your liking. Transfer the vegetables to the bowl with the rice.
- In the same pan, heat a tsp of oil, add the eggs and stir until scrambled. Add to the rice.
- Mix well, then add salt & lemon juice or vinegar to taste and any/all of the other optional ingredients listed.
(*Wagamama, to those not familiar with it, is a British chain of restaurants offering Japanese-inspired food.)