This fried rice formula has been my go-to 15-minute dinner for years. It’s how I use up about-to-wilt scallions and leftover rice and my refrigerator staples of laap cheung sausage and eggs. Even though the dish comes together easily, its origins lie in lavish feasts.
The San Gabriel Valley dim sum palaces that double as banquet halls may be a dying breed, but those that remain continue to house huge parties on the weekends. Sitting elbow to elbow, diners ring Lazy Susans where dishes drop in the same multicourse progression followed for ages: chilled appetizer platters to steaming soup to vegetables then seafood and meat. You should be stuffed by this point. But I’ve been to a lifetime of banquets to know that I should always save room for yang chow fried rice, which comes at the end.
In this banquet-inspired version, cured or roasted pork in the form of laap cheung sausage or char siu salt the rice instead of soy sauce; that keeps the grains from turning brown and helps reduce added oil. Eggs stay shy of setting before mixing with the rice so they coat the grains, tinting them yellow and shellacking them with rich flavor while giving them a fluffy texture. A generous mound of sliced scallions add a sweet onion aroma to the mix.
Handfuls of sliced iceberg lettuce top the rice at the very end, wilting slightly from the wok hay heat of the just-fried rice while retaining their fresh crunch. The contrast of cold, crisp lettuce over fragrant hot rice refreshes the palate after a huge feast and turns this into a satisfying one-wok meal where salad and main dish roll into one.
Yang Chow Fried Rice
15 minutes. Serves 4.
Kam Yen Jan Chinese-style sausage is my favorite for this dish and can be found in Chinese supermarkets, online and in some Costco stores. You can substitute char siu or any other cured or roasted sweetened pork, ranging from maple bacon to breakfast sausage. Leftover rice works best here as the grains need to be cold and dry to fry properly. If you’re dying to make this dish right away and don’t have any, prepare rice, then spread it on a large baking sheet in a thin layer and refrigerate it until cool.
- 3 large eggs
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 4 laap cheung sausages (6 ounces), halved lengthwise and very thinly sliced (1 cup)
- 1 bunch scallions (6 to 8), thinly sliced (1 cup)
- 4 cups cooked chilled rice, preferably day-old or older
- ¼ head iceberg lettuce, sliced (4 cups), plus more
- Use chopsticks or a fork to beat the eggs with a generous pinch each of salt and pepper in a medium bowl until stripey and blended, but not uniformly yellow. Heat the oil in a well-seasoned wok, large cast iron skillet or large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. When the oil shimmers, swirl the wok to evenly coat the bottom and sides, then pour in the eggs. Swirl the wok again to coat the oiled part with egg, then immediately stir with the chopsticks to scramble the eggs until they’re set halfway and still pretty runny, about 20 seconds. Immediately slide the eggs back into their bowl.
- Reduce the heat to medium and add the sausage. Cook, stirring often, until the fat renders and the meat is browned and crisped, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the scallions, season with salt and pepper and cook, stirring, until bright green and aromatic, 1 to 2 minutes.
- Use your hands to crumble the rice into the wok, separating the grains. Cook, stirring, until heated through, 1 to 2 minutes. Return the eggs to the wok and cook, stirring, until the unset eggs set around the rice, the set eggs break up and everything is steaming, 1 to 2 minutes.
- Immediately transfer to a serving dish and top with the lettuce. Serve right away with more lettuce on the side if you’d like.
Shrimp Fried Rice: Add 8 ounces peeled and deveined small shrimp to the wok after the sausage has crisped and season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring, until the shrimp are curled and opaque, 1 to 2 minutes, then add the scallions and proceed as above.