• Yield: Serves 1

Fried rice is best prepared one serving at a time. It's easier to cook and it also allows you to customize the dish to your diners. You can increase the amounts below to yield more servings, but only cook one portion at a time. Don't worry—this goes together so fast that you're not going to really increase your overall cooking time by much, and the difference in taste and texture will make it well worth it.

Fried rice should balance saltiness with a slightly sweet taste that is perfumed with garlic and ginger, making it an excellent dish for all home element types. Add more or less of the ingredients suggested below to suit your own home element.


  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil of your choice

  • 1 clove garlic, minced

  • 1 teaspoon peeled and minced fresh ginger

  • 1/2 cup crabmeat, small shrimp, thinly sliced beef, pork, lamb, or chicken, or diced firm tofu

  • 1 1/2 cups cooked rice (it's best if it's cold leftover rice), fluffed to loosen the grains

  • 1/2 cup mixed cubed onion, celery, carrot, and peas or other vegetables of your choice

  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce or fish sauce

  • 1 tablespoon ketchup

  • 1 egg, scrambled and cut into bite-size pieces

  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground white pepper

  • 1/3 cup coarsely chopped fresh cilantro


  • Chile powder of your choice 

  • 1 to 2 slices lime

  • 6 to 7 slices cucumber

  • 1 scallion, chopped



Heat a medium skillet over high heat for 1 minute. Add the oil, wait for 10 to 12 seconds, then add the garlic and ginger. Stir to mix for 1 minute, then add the meat of your choice and stir until just cooked through. Add the rice and stir to mix. If the mixture appears dry, add 1 tablespoon water and continue to stir-fry. Add the vegetables. Stir to mix and, when the vegetables are partially cooked, season with soy sauce and ketchup. Stir to mix. (For Earth element, if using raisins and pine nuts, add them now; see the variation below.) Add the egg and stir to combine. Add the pepper and mix well. Transfer to a plate and garnish with the cilantro. Serve with the accompaniments in little bowls, for your diners to add to their plates themselves.




Drunken Fried Rice: Substitute 1 teaspoon or more Drunken Seasoning for the garlic. Instead of the cilantro, substitute peppermint leaves. Omit the white pepper.


Spicy Fried Rice: Add 1 teaspoon or more Roasted Chile Oil along with the garlic and ginger. Substitute mint for the cilantro. Omit the white pepper.


Fried Rice for Earth home element:Add 1 tablespoon each raisins and toasted pine nuts, or 1/2 cup asparagus or green beans thinly sliced on the diagonal.


Fried Rice for Water home element: Add 1/2 cup thinly sliced broccoli florets or 1/2 cup thinly sliced fresh pineapple and 1/4 cup torn fresh basil.


Fried Rice for Wind home element: Add an additional half an onion, cubed, or 1/2 cup tightly packed baby spinach.


Fried Rice for Fire home element: Add 1/4 cup thinly sliced mushrooms or cabbage.

Su-Mei Yu is a chef, restaurateur, lecturer and author who specializes in Thai cuisine. She is the author of several cookbooks including The Elements of Life, Asian Grilling and Cracking the Coconut.