Cabbage Bacon Garlic Fried Rice (卷心菜培根蒜香炒饭）
August 29, 2020
When it comes to fried rice, I can probably think of no less than 50 different ones just off the top of my head. There are simply countless combinations due to the flexibility of the ingredients. And pretty much every Asian family has a couple of their favorite go-to versions of fried rice.
Fried rice usually consists of some combinations of meat, vegetables, seafood, and eggs (and of course, rice). Since Asians like to make stir fry dishes with vegetables, meat, and seafood, many Asian families often use leftover vegetables, meat, and rice, in addition to some fresh eggs and flavor enhancing herbs, such as green onion and garlic, to make fried rice. Not only does fried rice save food that otherwise might have lost its appeal after being in the refrigerator overnight, but the combination of various ingredients can be surprising tasty.
For my family, we tend to consume all the dishes cooked for the day so we don’t normally have leftovers. Nevertheless, it does not prevent us from enjoying fried rice. Over the years, I have tried and also created many different versions of fried rice. Most of my go-to versions are super simple and yummy and I will be sharing them one by one.
When making fried rice, it’s best to use leftover rice. Leftover rice is drier and harder than freshly cooked rice. So during stir frying, it’s much easier to break any clumps and also more difficult for the rice to stick together. The best fried rice has a chewy texture and each rice grain is distinctive such that you can almost feel it bouncing around in the mouth. When adding vegetables to fried rice, make sure you finish cooking the veggies first before adding the rice as vegetables tend to release water during stir frying.
You can probably tell from some of my previous recipes that I am a bacon and pork belly lover. Since bacon is quite salty in general, I don’t add much salt when I already have bacon in the dish. For this Cabbage Bacon Garlic Fried Rice, adding bacon and garlic makes it exceedingly aromatic. The fragrance is well infused in the oil and then transferred to the rice. Cabbage goes well with either bacon or garlic when cooked alone. So I combined all three ingredients for this fried rice and the result is superb.
Fried rice acts almost like a one pot meal when it has both veggies and proteins in it, so I usually don’t cook as many dishes when I already have fried rice. But you can certainly pair it with either light or heavy dishes. You can also add a ramen egg on top, pair it with soups such as Tomato Fish Fillet Tofu Stew, Potato with Tomato Pork Bone Soup, Corn Potato Carrot Pork Bone Soup, etc.
I also encourage you to experiment with your own versions of fried rice. You might be pleasantly surprised by how delicious various combinations of your leftover veggies and meat can be.
Active Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 20 minutes
Servings: 4 people
- 4-6 cups cooked rice1 (cooled overnight)
- ½ lb (~225g) cabbage chunk2
- 6 garlic gloves
- 4 bacon strips3
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt or ½ teaspoon table salt
- 1 teaspoon black peppercorns
- Gather all the ingredients.
- Cut the cabbage into small squares. Set aside.
- Smash the garlic gloves with a meat pounder or cleaver to quickly remove the skin. Using two hands, gently rock a chef’s knife back and forth across the pile of garlic to mince it. Set aside.
- Cut the 4 bacon strips into equal sized squares (same size as the cabbage). Set aside.
- Heat a large pan under medium-high heat. When the pan is getting hot, add the 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil and the bacon pieces. Spread the bacon with a spatula and toss occasionally.
- When the bacon is cooked half way, add the minced garlic, stirring for a minute. Make sure not to burn the garlic.
- Add the cabbage pieces and stir to combine with the bacon and minced garlic. Toss and stir frequently until the cabbage pieces become soft and the bacon is cooked through.
- Add the rice to the pan. Lower the heat to medium-low. Use a spatula or spoon to break any rice clumps. After separating all the rice clumps, increase the heat back to medium-high. Stir and toss for a few minutes to evenly mix the rice with the cabbage, bacon, and garlic.
- Grind about 1 teaspoon of black peppercorns onto the fried rice. Then add the 1 teaspoon of kosher salt (or ½ teaspoon of table salt), mixing well. Add more salt and pepper to taste.
- When it comes to fried rice, make sure you use cooked rice that has been left in the refrigerator overnight. If you are short on time, at least let the rice cool completely. You can use any type of rice, short grain, medium grain, or long grain rice, just not sweet (sticky) rice.
- Make sure to exclude the tough white cabbage core.
- I usually use 1 bacon strip per person.