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Yangzhou Fried Rice Recipe – 10 Ingredient Fried Rice That Never Disappoints

Yangzhou Fried Rice. It checks all the boxes when it comes to using what you have in the pantry. Our ‘everything but the kitchen sink’ fried rice recipe may look overwhelming. But, with just a few key ingredients, it’s remarkably simple, easy and tasty to make at home. The resulting ’10 ingredient Fried Rice’ is a wonderful one-course family meal.

Yangzhou Rice in White Bowl

Americans love choices. Chinese immigrants who opened restaurants in America understood this which is why most American Chinese menus contain about 20 to 30 basic dishes, often with 5 variations of each. When you see noodles on the menu, you’ll likely notice variations like Beef Lo Mein, Chicken Lo Mein, Shrimp Lo Mein, Pork Lo Mein and Vegetable Lo Mein just to list a few.

Most Chinese menus also include a decision-free entry – Yangzhou Fried Rice with ‘everything but the kitchen sink’ automatically included. Yes. With a surprise in every bite, this Chinese rice dish allows diners to have their rice and eat it too.

While we’ve always been drawn to the house special or Yangzhou Fried Rice on local Chinese menus, we never realized that this rice dish, despite its various anglicizations like Young Chow Fried Rice, Yang Chow Fried Rice and 10 Ingredient Fried Rice, is actually quite famous in China. While the Chinese Chaofan version is a little more recipe specific, it’s totally possible for a home cook to create a satisfying version of this pantry powerhouse in the kitchen.

What Is Yangzhou Fried Rice?

Yangzhou Rice in White Bowl with Spoon
Yangzhou Fried Rice, a Chinese pantry staple, contains everything but the kitchen sink.

Yangzhou Fried Rice (Yángzhōu chǎofàn 扬州炒饭 in Mandarin) is named after the town of Yangzhou, near Nanjing in the Jiangsu province. Unlike simple egg fried rice, this dish contains an assortment of proteins like pork, shrimp and chicken. Some people describe Yangzhou Fried Rice as shrimp fried rice but that would be a misnomer since shrimp is just a supporting player in the rice melange.

The rules are so rigid in China that the strict version has a variety of balanced elements and includes Jinhua ham (Chinese: 金華火腿), a special dried ham produced in the neighboring Zhejiang province. China’s ‘by the book’ Chao Fan recipe also calls for sea cucumber and crab meat. Since some argue that the dish is incomplete without these two elements, we’ll incorporate those ingredients into an ultra-fancy version one day when we’re feeling particularly adventurous.

If you’re intrigued, check out this video from Chinese star Wang Gang for the ultra-complicated restaurant version of Yangzhou Fried Rice. Wang’s version is almost impossible to reproduce at home and is on Daryl’s bucket list for his next trip to China – it’s an understatement to call him obsessed with Chinese fried rice.

Daryl with Wok in Kitchen
Don’t mess with Daryl and his wok.

The popular YouTube channel, Chinese Cooking Demystified, makes a fairly simple home version that calls for expensive dried scallops as shown in this video. We love the dish even without this luxury ingredient.

Some cooks ramp up the umami by adding soaked, dried shiitake mushrooms; however, we find the difference too negligible to justify the expense. We prefer making and eating this glorious dish with a simple mix of locally sourced ingredients and simple Chinese condiments.

We always say “Your kitchen, your rules.” Nothing epitomizes this axiom more than a heaping bowl of Yangzhou Fried Rice made with ingredients that you already have and love.

Where Did Yangzhou Fried Rice Originate?

Canal in Suzhou China
Yangzhou Fried Rice rose to fame in China’s Jiangsu Province near Nanjing. We snapped this photo in Suzhou, a city in the same province.

Yangzhou Fried Rice originated in Eastern China’s rich Yangtze river delta. The dish’s namesake city of Yangzhou (not to be confused with the picturesque Southern Chinese backpacker town of Yangshuo) is located a couple hours outside of Shanghai by train. If you’re like us, then you’re curious about the origin of fried rice in China.

The dish’s roots aren’t clear but apparently involve a local magistrate, boatmen and legendary chefs. More recently, travelers have issued dubious reports about the quality of fried rice in Yangzhou but that’s okay. Its library of ingredients has created a lifetime of Asian culinary satisfaction for many including us.

Fun Fact
The town of Yangzhou attempted to break the rice record by cooking and serving 4 tons of the stuff. Unfortunately, due to the long cooking time, the rice, which had been sitting for four hours, was declared unsafe for consumption. After the rice was deemed inedible and was instead fed to farm animals, the record was never officially declared.

Yangzhou Fried Rice Ingredients

Yangzhou Rice Ingredients
Sometimes listed on Chinese menus as “10 Ingredient Rice,” our Yangzhou Fried Rice recipe actually has 18 ingredients. Pictured here are shrimp, chicken, eggs, carrots, scallions, rice, cornstarch, peas, oyster sauce, shaoxing wine, soy sauce, garlic, onions, ginger and cured ham. Not pictured are salt, white pepper, and vegetable oil.

Despite its nickname of ’10 Ingredient Rice’, Yangzhou Fried Rice requires more than 10 ingredients. The following list includes EVERYTHING you’ll need to cook our Yangzhou Fried Rice recipe at home:

  • Rice
  • 2 Eggs
  • Chicken
  • Cured Ham
  • Shrimp
  • Carrots
  • Peas
  • Ginger
  • Scallions
  • Shallots
  • Corn Starch
  • Light Soy Sauce
  • Oyster Sauce
  • Shaoxing Wine
  • Vegetable Oil
  • Salt
  • White Pepper
  • MSG (optional)
  • Sriracha Sauce (optional)

While this is our preferred list of ingredients for a simple home version of Yangzhou Fried Rice, it’s entirely possible to substitute any of these ingredients based on your preference and what’s in your pantry. You could even create a luxury version of the dish with lobster, duck and pata negra ham.

Most of the ingredients are self explanatory. Read on for a detailed explanation of a few of the key ingredients:

Rice

Uncooked Rice in White Bowl
We use long grain white rice to make our version of Yangzhou Fried Rice.

Not all rice is the same. We recommend standard long grain rice for this dish.

Although most fried rice recipes recommend using day-old cooked rice from the refrigerator, don’t worry if you don’t have any in your fridge. We cooked our rice over the stove but recommend using a rice cooker if you have one. You can cook your rice 1 to 2 hours ahead and cool it by spreading it on parchment paper over a sheet pan.

Pro Tip
The rice must be cool when you toss it into the wok.

Eggs

Two Eggs on White Plate
We use two eggs in our fried rice. You can use more depending on your preference.

Our Yangzhou Fried Rice recipe calls for two whole eggs. However, you can use three or even four eggs depending on how much egg you like in your fried rice.

We typically break the eggs in a mixing bowl before pouring them into the wok. Sometimes, though, we crack them on the wok. Either way, we prefer to beat and scramble our eggs in the wok after allowing them to fry for about 20 seconds.

Chicken

Raw Chicken Breast
We prefer chicken breast over chicken thigh in our Yangzhou Fried Rice since that’s what typically have in our refrigerator.

Some people recommend using chicken thigh to achieve a deeper flavor. In our recipe, we use chicken breast since that’s what we commonly have in our refrigerator or freezer. We use one chicken breast for the dish.

Before cooking the chicken, we like to marinate the breast for a few minutes in a tablespoon of soy sauce, a teaspoon of cornstarch, a quarter teaspoon of salt and a quarter teaspoon of white pepper. Sometimes, we also add a pinch of MSG for extra flavor.

Cured Ham

Slab of Cured Ham
Cured ham like this slab of Presunto is common in our Lisbon kitchen. You can use Italian prosciutto, boiled ham or even thick sliced bacon if that’s what’s common in your location.

What it comes to meat, we recommend using what you can source locally. But what meat is best?

Many Chinese cooks use Jinhua ham, a local sun-cured pork product similar to prosciutto that’s not easy to find outside of China. Prosciutto, smoked ham and boiled ham are all good alternatives; however, lap cheong sausage or char sui barbecued pork are fun alternatives. Some of our favorite restaurants in Philadelphia (our home town) use both boiled ham AND char sui pork.

Our ham of choice is Portuguese presunto since we now live in Lisbon where local markets sell large presunto in large 500 gram blocks. You may be able to ask a counter person to sell you a thick slice of prosciutto if you have an Italian specialty store or even a Whole Foods in your town. Smoked country ham would work great too. You can even use thick sliced bacon.

As you can see, almost anything goes in this dish.

Shrimp

Raw Shrimp in Metal Bowl
We buy frozen shrimp with the heads on for this and other recipes.

Since we love big bites of shrimp, we recommend buying frozen 16-20 shrimp for this recipe. You can either keep your shrimp whole or cut it in pieces. We like to brine our shrimp with a tablespoon of salt in about 2 cups of water for about 20 minutes before cooking.

Get instructions on how to clean and prep the shrimp prior to cooking.

Shallots

Red Onion on Plate
We typically use shallots in our Yangzhou Fried Rice recipe. If you don’t have or like shallots, you can use onions instead.

You can use either onions or shallots in our Yangzhou Fried Rice recipe. But which is better? Given the choice, we prefer the flavor of shallots but it doesn’t matter too much either way.

Cornstarch

Shrimp and Corn Starch
Treating shrimp with corn starch is a smart move in this and other recipes.

We use cornstarch to treat the shrimp and chicken. The corn starch seems to tighten the texture of the shrimp, making it more plump and less stringy. As a bonus, adding corn starch helps to brown the chicken

Peas

Peas on Yangzhou Rice Mise en Place Board
We always have frozen peas on hand. We love to use them when we cook Yangzhou Fried Rice.

If you have access to fresh peas, by all means use them. However, we usually use frozen peas in our recipe.

Frozen peas are so much easier. All you have to do is remove a bowlful from a bag in the freezer and you’re ready to go.

Oyster Sauce, Light Soy Sauce and Shaoxing Wine

Sauce Bottles for Yangzhou Rice
Shaoxing Wine, Oyster Sauce and Chinese Light Soy Sauce are the three Chinese condiments we use to make Yangzhou Fried Rice.

It would be a shame not to make Yangzhou Fried Rice if you have Shaoxing Wine, Oyster Sauce and Chinese Light Soy Sauce in your pantry. These are the three ‘seasoning’ ingredients that make this recipe pop with flavor. Note the following:

  • It’s a common mistake to add too much soy sauce to the rice. You’ll only need a tablespoon of soy sauce in this recipe.
  • Oyster sauce is a potent seasoning ingredient and adds a significant flavor ‘backbone’ of savoriness to the rice. Our recipe calls for two tablespoons of Oyster sauce which is enough to significantly impact the flavor of the rice.
  • Shaoxing wine is commonly found in Chinese cuisine. Chefs like J. Kenji Lopez-Alt believe that this wine deglazes the brown, almost-burned bits of the wok to create that coveted wok-hei flavor. You can also use dry sherry as a substitute, even the cheap grocery store stuff.

Sriracha Sauce

Adding Sriracha to Yangzhou Rice
Mindi likes to spice up her Yangzhou Fried Rice with a squeeze of Sriracha.

Mindi prefers a little heat in her fried rice – and by a little, we mean a lot. Daryl could go either way.

If you choose to add hot sauce to your Yangzhou Fried Rice, Daryl encourages that you DON’T drown your rice. However, Mindi recommends adding a squirt or two of Huy Fong Sriracha sauce for a bit of zip to the dish.

Click here to buy a bottle of Sriracha if you agree with Mindi.

We encourage you to experiment with your finishing condiments. After you try Sriracha, we recommend trying Lao Gan Ma Chili Crisp next. Of course, adding any hot sauce is completely optional.

Click here for instructions on how to clean and prep the shrimp prior to cooking.

Necessary Equipment

Having the right equipment makes all the difference in this recipe. Before proceeding, make sure you have the following tools in your arsenal:

Wok or Saute Pan

Wok on Stove
While not mandatory, a carbon steel wok will give your fried rice a more traditional flavor.

We like to use a carbon steel wok when we make fried rice. Chinese cooking is all about high fire and intense heat and, in our opinion, nothing works as effectively as a carbon steel wok. After you properly treat your wok, it will provide an excellent nonstick finish.

Click here to buy a carbon steel wok and wok tools.

In the absence of a wok (or for convenience), we recommend using a nonstick pan. While you won’t get the same heat and ‘wok-hei’ power, you’ll still produce tasty rice.

How to Make Yangzhou Fried Rice

Stirring Yangzhou Rice in Wok
Once you have all the ingredients necessary to make Yangzhou Fried Rice, cooking the dish is the fun part.

Our Yangzhou Fried Rice recipe requires about an hour of prep time. But, after you make the recipe a few times, you’ll be making fried rice like a pro.

Prepping the Ingredients

With the exception of the shrimp, we recommend following the ‘shape rule’ to make the dish. When everything is the same shape and size, there will be a harmonious surprise in every mouthful.

You can mince the garlic and smash and mince the ginger. We recommend brunoising the carrot by slicing it into long rectangular cubes. You’ll want to continue slicing the carrot until the shape and size mimics the rice.

Chopping Carrots with Knife
We brunoise our carrot in rice-sized pieces when we make Yangzhou Fried Rice.

To make the ham easier to handle, you can freeze it for about 20 minutes before slicing. You’ll then want to slice the ham into small cubes.

Chopped Ham
Presunto Cubes provide a special savory chew to the recipe.

Keeping to theme, you’ll want to chop the chicken into small rice-sized cubes.

Raw Chicken with Corn Starch
We marinate our chicken breast in soy sauce and corn starch. The corn starch helps the chicken brown.

With the shrimp, you have two choices – you can either chop each shrimp in about 3 to 4 pieces OR you can keep them whole. Keeping the shrimp whole violates the shape rule but, being Americans, we like an occasional bite of big shrimp. We’ll just call it our “i before e except after c” exception.

Yangzhou Rice Ingredients Next to Stove
It always helps to have your ingredients in order and at the ready when you stir fry at home.

Once you’ve prepped your ingredients, it’s best to set them up in an orderly row next to your stove – otherwise you may forget one or two ingredients once the wok action starts. Since it’s easy to slip up here, we generally place our ingredients next to the wok in the order that we plan to add them.

Since we don’t want to overcook the chicken and pork, we remove them from the wok after we cook them and add them back in the final steps. Accordingly, we place a couple mixing bowls to the side of the wok to hold these cooked ingredients for later. We recommend that you do the same.

Oil in Wok
We always pretreat our hot wok with cold oil to maximize the wok’s nonstick surface.

Carbon Steel Wok Only: Start by placing your carbon steel wok over high heat and heat the pan until it’s ripping hot. Then, remove the wok from the heat and apply an even layer of vegetable oil over the surface. (We prefer a neutral oil with a high smoke point.) Place the wok back on the stove at high heat and add enough oil so that you have about a half inch layer on the bottom of the wok.

Teflon or Nonstick Wok Alternative: Overheating the pan’s surface could cause the cooking layer to chip, peel or leech into your food. We recommend heating any nonstick surface over medium heat instead.

Ham and Chicken in Wok
Once you brown the ham and chicken, you’ll want to remove them from the wok.

Add the ham cubes when the vegetable oil starts smoking. Once the cubes are browning on the edges, remove them from the wok by using a perforated spoon to strain the oil. You can alternatively strain the oil by tilting the ham at the edge of the pan before removing the cubes.

Add the chicken and cook until lightly browned. Remove them from the wok using the same method as the ham.

If the pan begins to look dry, add more oil as needed. Add the chopped shallots, carrots, ginger and garlic to the wok. This is your mirepoix. Cook until brown.

Mirepoix  in Wok
Our garlic, ginger, shallot and carrot mixture forms the mirepoix in our Yangzhou Fried Rice recipe.

Add the shaoxing wine to deglaze the pan.

Deglazing Wok
We deglaze our wok with Shaoxing Wine.

Set the mirepoix mixture to the side of the wok and add about a teaspoon of vegetable oil to the wok. After the wok heats up a little, pour in your eggs. You can crack them directly into the pan if you prefer. Do NOT immediately scramble the eggs. Let them cook a little and then mix them. Once they’re scrambled to your liking, stir the eggs into your mirepoix.

Adding Egg to Yangzhou Rice
We like to crack our eggs into the wok and let them fry a little before scrambling them.

Add the cooked rice and break it up with your spatula.

Adding Rice to Yangzhou Rice
We often use leftover rice to make Yangzhou Fried Rice.

Toss your rice in the pan with the spatula, making sure to press the rice against the surface of the pan in a slight kneading, scraping motion. This step will slightly caramelize and soften the rice.

Pro Tip
Use a wooden spoon instead of a spatula if you’re cooking in a nonstick pan.

Stirring Rice into Yangzhou Rice
We use a wok spatula to press the rice against the wok which browns and cooks the rice.

Add both the soy sauce and the oyster sauce.

Adding Oyster Sauce to Yangzhou Rice
Oyster sauce is a key fried rice ingredient.

Once you feel that the rice is cooked through, add the chicken and pork back into the pan. Stir the pork and chicken a couple times to bring the proteins back to temperature.

Adding Shrimp to Yangzhou Rice
We cook our shrimp last when we make Yangzhou Fried Rice. We only need to stir the shrimp through the rice for about two minutes.

Once the chicken and pork are hot, add the uncooked shrimp. Stir the shrimp through the hot rice. In two to three minutes, the shrimp should look opaque and will be cooked.

Add the peas last. They literally take seconds to cook.

Bowl of Yangzhou Rice and 4 Chop Sticke
Yangzhou Fried Rice is an excellent weeknight meal. It also makes excellent leftovers.

Once everything is cooked, spoon the dish into a large serving bowl. Garnish with sliced scallion greens and serve. You can optionally drizzle the finished rice with a little sesame oil and/or hot sauce.

What to Serve with Yangzhou Fried Rice

Yangzhou Fried Rice with Sriracha and Two Serving Bowls
Guess which bowl is Daryl’s and which is Mindi’s.

The beauty of Yangzhou Fried Rice is that it’s a complete meal in one bowl. The dish packages protein, vegetables and rice together and the end result is both flavorful and satisfying.

We suggest that you serve the dish with either beer or white wine. Buy a few bottles of Tsingtao Beer if you’re an overachiever. Otherwise, whatever beer or wine is in your kitchen or bar will work just fine.

Yangzhou Fried Rice Recipe

Yangzhou Fried Rice from Above with Grey Background

Yangzhou Fried Rice

Yield: 6 Servings
Prep Time: 1 hour
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 15 minutes

Our Yangzhou Fried Rice recipe uses a whole bunch of pantry ingredients and a wok to create a fun and complete meal.

Ingredients

  • 10 frozen shrimp 16/20 count, heads on, deveined and peeled (tails off)
  • 4 cups cooked long grain white rice (1 1/4 cups uncooked)
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 boneless, skinless chicken breast, diced into small pieces
  • 3 ounces cured ham (i.e. prosciutto), cut into small cubes
  • 1 medium carrot, diced into a medium brunoise
  • 1/4 cup frozen peas
  • 1 nub fresh ginger about an inch thick, peeled and minced
  • 3 or 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 medium shallot, diced
  • 1 scallion, green part only, sliced
  • 2 tablespoons + 1 teaspoon cornstarch
  • 2 tablespoons Chinese light soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon Shaoxing wine
  • 2 tablespoons oyster sauce
  • 1/4 teaspoons salt
  • 1/4 teaspoons white pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon MSG (Optional)
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil (for the wok)

Instructions

  1. 20 minutes before cooking, mix the shrimp with 2 tbsp of cornstarch in a bowl until incorporated.
  2. Wash off the cornstarch and place shrimp in 2 cups of water mixed with 1 tbsp of salt. Set aside
  3. Marinate the diced chicken breast in 1 tbsp of soy sauce and 1 tsp. of cornstarch along with the salt and white pepper. Optionally, a pinch of MSG.
  4. Assemble all your ingredients in close proximity to your wok.
  5. Place the wok on high heat until smoking.
  6. Once heated, remove the wok from the burner and pour a small amount of vegetable oil into the wok. Coat the entire wok evenly.
  7. Place the wok back on the stove. Pour enough oil in the wok so that there's a 1/2" layer on the bottom.
  8. Once the oil is hot and smoking, carefully add the ham. When it begins to brown and crisp, remove the ham with a slotted spoon and reserve it in a bowl.
  9. Add the chicken to the wok and cook the same way. Remove.
  10. Once you've removed the chicken, add the carrots, shallots, garlic and ginger. Cook the mirepoix until brown.
  11. Add the Shaoxing wine to the pan.
  12. Move the mirepoix to the side of the wok. Add a tablespoon of the oil.
  13. Break the eggs in a small bowl and add them to the pan. Let the eggs fry for about 15 to 20 seconds.
  14. Scramble the eggs by scraping and mixing them on the bottom of the wok. Mix the eggs with the mirepoix.
  15. Add the cooked rice. Break up the large clumps of rice and then press the rice against the surface of the wok in a slight kneading, scraping motion.
  16. While stirring the rice, add the soy sauce and oyster sauce.
  17. Once the rice is mixed with the eggs and vegetables, add the ham and chicken back to the wok.
  18. Add the raw shrimp and mix thoroughly for two minutes. The heat from the rice will cook the shrimp. Add the peas - they will cook quickly.
  19. Serve in medium sized rice bowls with chopsticks and enjoy.

Notes

  • You can reheat the leftovers in a nonstick pan with a little water.
  • Creative substitutions are encouraged.
Nutrition Information:
Yield: 6 Serving Size: 6
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 409Total Fat: 22gSaturated Fat: 3gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 18gCholesterol: 104mgSodium: 934mgCarbohydrates: 35gFiber: 1gSugar: 1gProtein: 17g

Nutrition Disclosure: We used an online calculator to calculate this information. Though 2foodtrippers.com has attempted to secure accurate data, these nutritional figures are estimates.

Hungry for More Dinner Dishes?

Check out our Arroz de Pato, Hunan Chicken, Pappa al Pomodoro, Roast Chicken and Pork Loin recipes.

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About the Authors

About the Authors

Daryl & Mindi Hirsch

Saveur Magazine’s BEST TRAVEL BLOG award winners Daryl and Mindi Hirsch share their culinary travel experiences and recipes on the 2foodtrippers website and YouTube. The married Food and Travel content creators live in Lisbon, Portugal.

Disclosure

We update our articles regularly. Some updates are major while others are minor link changes and spelling corrections. Let us know if you see anything that needs to be updated in this article.

Hugh

Wednesday 14th of July 2021

Amazing recipe but you did not put the garlic amount needed in the recipe!

Daryl and Mindi Hirsch

Wednesday 14th of July 2021

Sorry about that. 3 to 4 cloves of garlic minced.

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