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Many cooks suffer from impatience in the kitchen; they keep flipping the meat over on the grill, trying to make it cook faster. But cooking requires patience and food won’t cook unless it it left alone to cook. Yes, I am guilty as charged. Now, this lesson may seem inappropriate for a stir-fry, but I’ve always taken the “stir” part of “fry” too literally. The food does need time to cook.

I suggest cooking the onions separately, to make sure that they are fully cooked. The rice needs time to brown by itself and release any moisture so that it tastes crunchier. The eggs need to set like an omelet or else it is a saucy carbonara-style fried rice. That’s lesson one. Lesson two is don’t crowd the pan; that is, do not double the recipe (or, if you do, use two woks or make two separate batches). If there is too much food in the wok, the food never browns — it steams with all that extra water content.

Fried rice is a great way to use up any leftovers, particularly leftover rice. Feel free to substitute any ingredient (such as shrimp for the chicken). The rice must be cooked and cold before using. If you have only fresh, hot rice, then spread it out on a sheet pan to chill it quickly.

Bacon-Chicken Fried Rice

  • 2 strips bacon
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 carrot, peeled and chopped
  • chile peppers to taste (I used 6 hot dried, red chile peppers, finely ground)
  • 2 tablespoons minced ginger
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced 
  • 2 cups cooked rice (preferably jasmine)
  • 1/2 cup cooked, chopped chicken
  • 1/2 cup green peas
  • 1/4 cup corn kernals
  • 1/4 cup sliced water chestnuts
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon sherry vinegar
  • 1/4 cup coconut milk
  • chopped scallions and cilantro for garnish

In a wok, cook the bacon until crisp, remove and reserve the fat. Cook the onion and carrot in the bacon fat until very tender. Add the chile peppers, ginger, and garlic and cook for a minute. Remove the vegetables with a slotted spoon. If necessary, add a little more vegetable oil to the wok. Turn the wok to high. Cook the rice until slightly brown, about a minute or two, stirring with a wok spatula. Stir in the chicken, peas, corn, water chestnuts. Return the onions to the wok. Push the rice up the sides of the wok to leave a hole in the center. Pour in the eggs and let sit until they start to cook. Fold the rice on top of the eggs, then stir the bottom of the pan. Mix together the soy, vinegar, and coconut milk. Stir the sauce into the wok. Serve immediately, garnished if desired.