A number of years ago, I lived in Taiwan for a year teaching ESL to children. There was so much amazing food in Taiwan, but my favorite dish was an incredible bacon fried rice at a café in my neighborhood. I went every weekend to get that rice.
My Bacon Fried Rice Story from Taiwan
Bacon fried rice was something I'd never experienced before. Embarrassingly, I didn't realize it was bacon in the rice the first few months I ordered it. I thought it was some kind of thinly sliced pork, obviously, but I truly didn't realize it was bacon. They tend to undercook bacon in Taiwan so it doesn't quite look like what you're used to. I sat there thinking, why is this fried rice so good?
The same woman was always at the cafe and she would look at me smiling and nodding and I would smile and nod. That was how I ordered my bacon fried rice. Magically, a few minutes later, it would appear before me. And I'd devour it.
One little detail: they also put raisins in the fried rice! I skipped it for this recipe because it's probably strange enough that there is bacon in fried rice. However, if you're feeling daring, throw ¾ of a cup of raisins in there at the end and give it a good toss!
It took some time, but I think I replicated that recipe from the Taiwan cafe. You've really got to try this. Also, I love making more than I need. Nothing pleases me more than giving extra fried rice to my friends and family. They have also become addicted to it.
Bacon Fried Rice with a Secret...shhhh
Lastly, it's worth noting this recipe contains no soy sauce. In fact, I've never eaten fried rice in Asia that contained soy sauce. That goes for sesame oil too. Never understood sesame oil in a fried rice recipe. I've lived and worked in South Korea and Taiwan. Been to Thailand many times, Vietnam, India, and Nepal. My fried rice experiences in these countries existed without that zap of umami. However, I've never been to mainland China so I don't know if they use it there. I really do appreciate the rice without it! To me, it's the secret to amazing fried rice. A flavor base without soy sauce.
To me, making a gourmet fried rice is about building layers of flavors. The bacon, garlic, ginger, carrot, zucchini, onion mixture is the flavor base of this dish. Plus, properly salting ingredients as you work through the cooking process creates a good balance. The raw egg at the end is critical too. It turns into cooked egg the moment it hits the wok so don't worry. But it creates this nice coating over the rice that I think sets it apart from other recipes out there.
In conclusion, most fried rice recipes on the internet contain soy sauce. But if you create a powerful enough flavor base - you simply don't need it.
So for seriously amazing bacon fried rice - give this recipe a try!
If you're looking for more international recipe ideas, check out my Mie Goreng - Indonesian Noodles with Rotisserie Chicken, a crazy delicious Croque Monsieur Sandwich, or my Beef and Cheese Empanadas.Print
How to Make Amazing Bacon Fried Rice
- Prep Time: 40 minutes
- Cook Time: 10 minutes
- Total Time: 50 minutes
- Yield: 6 1x
This is a truly unique and fantastic fried rice recipe. I ate this every weekend the year I lived in Taiwan. I'm certain this will become a regular addition to your dinner rotation. Leftovers are great for lunch too!
- 3 zucchinis
- 3 large carrots
- 1 large onion
- 1 pound of bacon (thick sliced works well)
- 1 tablespoon of bacon fat (optional)
- 3 cloves of garlic, finely diced
- 3 inches of ginger, grated on microplane
- ½ bunch of scallions, chopped
- olive oil
- 3 cups of sushi rice
- 1 tablespoon of butter
- 2-3 eggs (beaten)
- Cook the rice. Measure sushi rice and rinse the rice 2-3 times until the cloudy water runs clear. I use a rice cooker to steam my rice. Add butter and salt into your rice cooker. It’s important to butter and salt the rice before cooking. If you are using a pot on the stove just follow the directions on the packaging to cook the rice… but make sure to add the butter and salt as well. If you don’t want to use butter you can substitute with olive oil.
While the rice is cooking you can start prepping the other ingredients.
- Chop carrot, zucchini and onion into small bite-sized pieces and put in separate bowls. For the carrot and zucchini, I cut them into sticks and then into cubes. For the onion just dice it and set aside in a bowl.
- Start cooking the pound of bacon. Cook in batches in a large sauté pan (or two) and move cooked pieces to a paper towel lined paper plate. Reserve the bacon fat in a ramekin. Let bacon cool before chopping into bite-sized pieces. NOTE: While the bacon is cooking you should be able to do some other prep work.
- Chop scallions (including white parts) into small pieces and set aside in a bowl.
- Finely dice 3 cloves of garlic and set aside in a ramekin.
- Put carrots in a med sauté pan with a drizzle of olive oil, and a pinch of salt and pepper to taste. You want to cook these first because they take longer than the zucchini and onion. Give the carrots a toss around the pan then cook the carrots – COVERED – on low heat for five minutes. Stir a couple of times. Remove from heat and leave covered another 3-5 minutes then remove the lid and leave the carrots in that pan.
- Cut three inches of ginger from a root. Slice the skin off the sides using your knife and grate it using a microplane tool. If you don’t have that just use a knife and finely chop it.
- Chop your bacon into bite-sized pieces.
- Crack eggs in a bowl with a pinch of salt and beat them well.
- At this point in the cooking process, your rice is probably done or near to being done. I like to wait to start cooking the zucchini and onion until the rice is completed.
- Add chopped zucchini to the carrots and cook on medium heat. There should be enough olive oil from cooking the carrots so no need to add anymore yet. Stir well then put lid on and cook on low to medium heat for 3 minutes – then remove the lid. You don’t want to completely cook the zucchini. When it gets added to the wok with the rice it will continue cooking and you don’t want it to turn to mush. Cook the zucchini until al dente.
- Add onions to carrot/zucchini mixture and a drizzle of olive oil and sprinkling of salt. Mix well, then cook on low/medium heat. The onions will become slightly translucent in just a couple of minutes.
- Add the chopped bacon into the veggie mix and stir well.
- Make a well in center of veggies and add your garlic, ginger and EITHER a drizzle of olive oil or the reserved bacon fat. Cook for a minute or so until fragrant.
- Add 1 tablespoon of bacon fat OR a drizzle of olive oil to your wok or pan with a pinch of salt and put on medium heat. Let it get hot.
- Add HALF the sushi rice to the wok and let it sizzle for a minute. If you want to crisp your rice a little, that’s a personal choice. I don’t usually do that. Now add half of the veggie/bacon mix on top of the rice. Mix well with a sturdy tool like a wooden spatula.
- Add the remaining rice, then the remaining veggie/bacon mix on top of that.
- At this point, you will need TWO cooking utensils to manage the quantity of rice. I use my big wooden spatula paddle and my white rice cooker paddle.
- Add ¾ of the scallion to the mix and blend throughout. Set aside the rest to garnish your rice.
- LAST STEP: pour the beaten eggs directly onto the fried rice. I like to pour it in a swirl so it is evenly distributed. The rice is extremely hot at this point so be careful not to burn yourself. The egg will cook completely so don’t worry that you are going to eat raw egg. You will see how fast the egg cooks and coats the rice giving it a slightly yellow hue.
- I prefer using sushi rice for fried rice because it’s a strong rice that can withstand the tossing around the wok later. Short or medium grain white rice works well too, but sushi rice is the best in my opinion. I use a brand called Nishiki which you can find in the rice or international aisle of your local grocery store. I would not recommend basmati rice for this – it doesn’t hold up well.
- To save a little time you can cook the pound of bacon the day before and leave it in the fridge. But remember to reserve the bacon fat because you will need 1 tablespoon for the recipe if you choose to use it.
- I’ve heard many people say they cook the rice ahead of time and that fried rice is better when made with chilled rice. My friend in Taiwan said she even freezes her rice and throws it in the wok right from the freezer. I did try using chilled rice and it was an epic fail for me. I don’t know if it’s because I use sushi rice which tends to clump together more than medium-grain rice or what. But it didn’t come out right.
- If you like more scrambled egg in your rice you can beat an egg, scramble in a separate pan and add the scrambled egg to the final product. I’ve done that many times too and it’s great.
- Crazy as it sounds, the Taiwan version I was obsessed with actually had raisins in it. If you are feeling bold, add ¾ cup to your wok when you’re putting the whole dish together. It’s really delicious.
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