Cooking in the Time of COVID: Chicken fried rice


Image by Jada Teague

Reimi Navarro , Contributing Writer


Photo by Reimi Navarro


There’s no true consensus as to where Fried Rice originated, although many sources have cited that it started in Central Asia during the Han dynasty (202 BC- 220 AD). The dish was known as “muxufan,” since it was made with the medicinal plant, muxu. Zhang Qian helped it spread via the Silk Road, claiming it had health benefits.

How It Came to Be:

Fried rice did not become popular until it reached the Jiang province during the Sui dynasty (589- 618 AD), where it was adopted by southern peasants as a cheap and quick meal. After a backbreaking day of work, farmers would have to use what they could find for dinner. This usually consisted of vegetable scraps, leftover rice, a bit of lard, and some garlic. Nowadays, chicken fried rice is served by choice rather than for survival. It is interesting how many of today’s popular foods hold humble beginnings.

Interesting Facts:

  •         The vegetable scraps used for Fried Rice were usually expired, but too good to be thrown to the hogs.
  •         Similar to the Southerners, Northern Chinese peasants used their food leftovers to create the widely popular dish, Chow Mein.
  •         One may think that Fried Rice would be in the top 5 out of 10 of the ‘Most Popular Chinese Dish’ in America, but it is actually in the lower              half of the ranking. 
  •         The stir-fried technique used to cook fried rice was dated to have come before Fried Rice
  •         The Emperor of Manchu liked the dish so much that he had his Imperial Kitchen develop a formal recipe.
  •         Fried rice was not introduced to America until the 1900s.
  •         Fried Rice is not an everyday home cooked meal in china, and is considered an odd dish from their traditional cuisine.
  •         The chinese prefer their rice steamed and plain, and it is considered a staple or base for meat and vegetables to balance out flavor.



Chicken Fried Rice Recipe 


  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 25 minutes
  • Total Time: 35 minutes
  • Serving Size: 3-4
Photo by Reimi Navarro


  • 2 boneless, skinless chicken thighs 
  • 2 Cups of short-grain white rice
  • 2 Green onion/scallion
  • 3-4 Eggs
  • 1 Teaspoon of salt
  • 1 Teaspoon of oil
  • 2 Tablespoons of soy sauce
  • *Optional: 3 slices of bacon





  1. Measure 2 cups of short-grain white rice and place it in a bowl. Fill the bowl with water and wash the rice with your hands. Repeat this step 2-3 times.
  2. Drain the water out of the bowl and place the rice in a pot. Add 2 cups of water to the pot and let it sit for 5-10 minutes.
  3. As the rice is soaking, gather the rest of your ingredients. Take your meat choice and cut them into bite-sized pieces. Then thinly slice the green onions and *bacon and set everything aside.



  1. Once the rice has soaked, bring the stove to a medium-heat and wait for the water to boil. Once it boils, turn the heat to low and let it cook for an additional 10-15 minutes. Towards the end of the 15 minutes, take the pot lid off and allow for the rice to develop a dry texture. 
  2. As the rice is cooking, take a frying pan and make scrambled eggs. Once they are done, place them to the side.
  3. Add oil to the frying pan and wait for it to heat up. Then add your bite-sized meat and *bacon to the pan and allow them to cook.
  4. Lower the stove heat to low and combine the cooked chicken, cooked rice, scrambled eggs, *bacon, and sliced onions together and mix. 
  5. Season the mixture with soy sauce and salt and keep stirring until the rice has become a golden-brown color. 



  • Meat: ham, sausage, shrimp, and beef
  • Gluten-free and vegetarian:
    • Instead of rice, try cauliflower rice 
    • Instead of soy sauce, try coconut aminos

If you liked this recipe, click the link below to see the step-by-step video.