Breakfast fried rice is what I turn to when I want a quick, hearty breakfast and have bits and bobs of random leftovers cluttering up my fridge. Especially if I have leftover rice.
Cold, dry, leftover rice is perfect for fried rice. And fried rice is one of the easiest, most versatile recipes you can have in your own personal recipe index.
This breakfast variation includes shredded potatoes crisped up in bacon fat with garlic and ginger, and is finished with crumbled bacon and thinly sliced scallions.
I first made fried rice — regular fried rice — in college. I didn't do much cooking back then, but it was one of the first times I looked at a restaurant dish and recognized it to be the sum of incredibly familiar parts.
Rice. Veggies. Onion. Soy and/or teriyaki sauce. A scrambled egg.
When you grow up a white, Jewish suburban kid with parents who tend to flinch at the word "fried" you don't really think of fried rice as something you make yourself at home. It's certainly not something you'd eat for breakfast (unless you're slightly hungover and shoveling it from a takeout carton directly into your mouth).
No, when I was growing up Chinese food was for Christmas eve and outings with my grandparents (okay, and my sister's bat mitzvah party but that's another story).
Realizing, at the ripe old age of 20, that fried rice was made up of things I already knew how to cook was like pulling back the curtain to realize the Wizard of Oz was just a familiar looking man behind a curtain all along.
It was the first time I remember realizing that every culture has quick, easy recipes made up of simple ingredients and that, just because I was cooking food from another culture, that food wasn't inherently harder or more complicated to make. It just meant that I wasn't familiar with it yet.
What I'm trying to say is this: It's not just okay to eat fried rice for breakfast, it's actually an ideal breakfast food. Maybe you've realized this already, maybe you haven't. It already has eggs in it — the addition of grated potatoes makes it feel almost like a hash and the salty, crunchy bacon is right at home with the soy and teriyaki sauces.
I also add a bit of ginger, gojuchang, and chili garlic sauce for a mild heat. The thinly sliced scallions garnished over the top aren't just there for a pop of color, either; they bring a brightness and freshness to the dish with just a bit of a gentle kick that wakes you right up.
breakfast fried rice cooking notes
- A quick rule of thumb for scaling this up or down: 1½ cups rice, 2 slices of bacon, 2-3 potatoes, and 1 egg per person.
- It's important to use cold, day-old rice for fried rice because it won't absorb too much liquid. If you use freshly made rice, the grains will break down and turn mushy when you fry them. Cold, day-old rice has had some time to dry out and will give your fried rice a nice texture with distinct rice grains.
- The absolute best way to scramble the eggs just the right amount is to use chopsticks. Chopsticks are also great for breaking up the rice.
- Want to add other veggies like peppers, mushrooms, carrots, broccoli, corn, or zucchini? Add them right after the onions but before you add the rice.
- No bacon? Swap in crumbled sausage, pancetta, or cubed ham or Canadian bacon. You'll just need to add more oil before step 3 since the ginger and garlic won't have bacon fat to cook in.
- Take this to the next level by serving it with a fried egg over the top.
breakfast fried rice
- 4 slices bacon
- 3 cups day-old rice
- 4-6 fingerling potatoes (shredded on the large holes of a box grater or fine diced)
- 2 eggs
- 1 clove garlic (microplaned or minced)
- ½ teaspoon fresh ginger (microplaned or minced)
- ¼ cup diced onion
- ⅛ cup tamari or soy sauce
- ¼ cup teriyaki sauce
- ½ teaspoon gojuchang (optional)
- ½ teaspoon chili garlic sauce (optional)
- 2 tablespoon sesame oil
- 3 tablespoon scallion greens thinly sliced
- Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Cook bacon until desired level of crispiness, remove from skillet and set aside on paper towels to drain.
- While the bacon cooks, prep the rest of your ingredients.
- Add ginger and garlic to the remaining bacon fat over medium heat and cook until soft, about 1 minute. Add the potatoes and season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until potatoes are slightly crispy and cooked through, about 5 minutes. Add the onion and cook 2 minutes more.
- Add cold rice to the pan, using chopsticks or a wooden spoon to break it up into chunks as it fries in the bacon fat. Stir the rice occasionally so it fries evenly.
- When the rice is uniformly light golden brown in color (about 5 minutes) add the tamari/teriyaki sauce mixture to the pan and stir, scraping any browned bits off the bottom of the pan. Cook the rice, stirring frequently to prevent sticking, until the sauce has completely absorbed, about 2-3 minutes.
- Make a well in the center of the rice and pour 1-2 tablespoon of sesame oil into it. Give it a few seconds to get hot, then pour the lightly beaten eggs into the center of the well. Season the eggs with salt and pepper and give them a few gentle scrambles. When the eggs are about 70-80% cooked through, stir them into the rice.
- Serve in bowls garnished with thinly sliced scallions.
- Go ahead and add any other veggies you at the same time as the onions. No bacon? Swap in crumbled sausage, pancetta, or cubed ham or canadian bacon. You'll just need to add more oil before step 3 since the ginger and garlic won't have bacon fat to cook in.
- An easy way to scale this up or down: Estimate 1½ cups rice, 2 slices of bacon, and 1 egg per person.