No Teppanyaki grill top needed to whip up this simple and savory Japanese Fried Rice recipe. Easy to make and ready in 18 minutes from start to finish!
Japanese Fried Rice チァ-ハン
I think you’ll agree with me that there’s something magical about eating umami loaded hibachi fried rice at a Japanese teppanyaki restaurant.
But, there’s a catch:
It sure isn’t the easiest thing to make at home. I don’t know many home chefs that have a teppanyaki grill top at the dining table, whipping up garlic rice while the family applauds your amazing spatula and knife skills 😂
Well, it turns out you can totally prepare a delicious Japanese fried rice (or chahan – チャーハン) at your place any time. We’ll just trade the grill top in for a frying pan or wok.
Good news if you’re a fan of Japanese fried rice! Today’s post is all about how to make hibachi fried rice in your home kitchen with the tools at your disposal. Itadakimasu!
Actual Food vs Food Theater
The only real difference between the Japanese fried rice at a teppanyaki spot and the simple fried rice you whip up at home is theater. Being able to flip an 8” chef’s knife behind your back and catch it with your eyes closed is a neat trick – but, c’mon, we’re making dinner here!
First things first: the rice.
When whipping up Japanese fried rice at home, I try to go with rice that is at least a day old (and preferably refrigerated). Why? Long, scientific story cut super-short: it’s because some evaporation occurs when the rice cools that results in fried rice that holds its texture and is less mushy after the reheat.
I have a secret though: if you didn’t plan ahead and steam a bunch of Japanese rice the day before making your own Japanese fried rice, it’s totally OK. Just use freshly cooked rice and enjoy your dinner! You’ll be surprised at how well it turns out (i.e. not nearly as mushy as you might think).
For me, short grain Japanese rice works best. It results in an almost chewy experience – but you can use medium grain rice (or even Jasmine rice) if you can’t find, or don’t care for, the Japanese grains.
The First Rule of Japanese Fried Rice Club…
If you ask my Japanese mother how to fry rice, she’ll tell you that any old pan is fine. And she’s right… mostly. I prefer a wok. All the better to toss the rice and veggies at high heat.
Bonus: If you have a gas range, the cooking flame will heat the sloping sides of your wok as well.
However, again, this isn’t a scientific exercise. This simple fried rice recipe can easily be made with whatever tools are in your kitchen. It’s totally fine to use a cast iron skillet over electric stovetop coils when making Japanese fried rice.
The best part?
The same lax rules apply to the ingredients you use.
Big fan of green beans? Use ‘em. Have leftover chashu (braised pork belly) from the last time you made ramen? Dice it and add it. Have a huge box of frozen peas in your freezer? Who doesn’t? Thaw some and add them to the mix.
This Japanese fried rice recipe is the the way we like it in Maison Phelps – but it’s basically a blueprint for you to add your own cooking chops to.
My favorite flavor element of this easy vegetable fried rice recipe is the interplay of the soy sauce and white pepper. The bright and almost floral element of good white pepper elevates that umami of the soy. It’s absolute magic!
Super secret time:
Ben likes his Japanese fried rice with a tiny bit of Japanese mayonnaise on top. Yep. Japanese mayo. Is it traditional? Nope. Is it delicious? He sure thinks so!
Food Can Transport You
Basically, my favorite thing about making Japanese fried rice at home (aside from there being no hard and fast rules to the recipe) is that the first bite always reminds me of sitting in the kitchen with my Mom as a kid as she cooked lunch.
Good food is funny that way.
Taste is so evocative of time and place, it’s easy to get nostalgic. One minute you’re at the burners, frying rice – the next, you’re eight years old again and Mom is setting a bowl of her special fried rice in front of you at the table.
A final word though:
No matter how you decide to make this hibachi style Japanese fried rice in your own home kitchen, leave the fancy knife flipping tricks to the professionals at the teppanyaki joint!
How about you? Is there something you cook that transports you to a time or place from your past? I’d love to hear about it! Tell your foodie story in the comments!
Other simple, delicious Japanese food recipes:
- Nasu Dengaku – Miso Glazed Eggplant
- Okonomiyaki Style Omelet
- Japanese Curry – カレ-ライス
- Spaghetti Squash Yakisoba Style
- Omurice – オムライス
Did you like this simple Japanese Fried Rice Recipe? Are there changes you made that you would like to share? Share your tips and recommendations in the comments section below!