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Easy Beef Fried Rice (牛肉炒饭)

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This easy beef fried rice uses a bold seasoning of chili and cumin. It requires very little prep and only takes 10 minutes to cook. A one-pan dish that’s satisfying enough to serve as a main for dinner, or packed into your lunch box for meal-prep, or served as a fancy side for your Chinese dinner party. {Gluten-Free adaptable}

Having grown up in China, I have a special bond with fried rice. It is something I can and want to eat at any time of day. I’ve lost count but I think I have more than 10 fried rice recipes on my blog. And it’s still not enough! From simple recipes such as 3-Ingredient Egg Fried Rice and Soy Sauce Fried Rice, to fancier Pineapple Fried Rice and Yang Zhou Fried Rice. I keep making them and finding new ways to create delicious flavors. 

For me, there’s one common element in all of my fried rice dishes. That is, the recipe has to be simple and very easy to make. Because the goal of fried rice is to use leftovers and whatever you have on hand to make a quick and satisfying meal. 

Today I want to share my favorite beef fried rice recipe. It uses a flavor combo that’s commonly used in Xinjiang cuisine – cumin and chili pepper – with a touch of soy sauce. You’d be surprised how these simple ingredients can create such a bold aroma.

Beef fried rice ingredients

Why I prefer ground beef 

Sliced or diced beef might seem like a great option for beef fried rice. And yes, it does give the dish a more appetizing look. But when it comes to fried rice, I always use ground meat. The advantages of ground meat are:

It doesn’t require any prep. No slicing or marinating needed.

You won’t overcook it by leaving it in the pan. Unlike sliced beef, which usually needs to be removed from the pan during the cooking to prevent overcooking.

It tastes amazing with cheap ingredients. Because ground meat releases more flavor into the dish than sliced meat, it adds tons of umami to your rice.

My trick for cooking ground beef is to keep some bigger bits intact without separating the meat into tiny flakes. It adds amazing texture to the dish and it almost feels like you’re eating a burger when you bite into the bigger pieces.

What is the proper rice for fried rice

The best rice for beef fried rice is jasmine rice or medium grain rice.

You probably often see fried rice recipes call for leftover rice or “overnight rice”. It means you should use cooked rice that has been stored in the fridge for a day or two to make fried rice. 

The reason for this requirement is, once the rice has been chilled and stored in a cold environment for a while, it becomes less starchy and a bit drier. So the rice will separate during cooking without sticking together. It yields a better texture and mouthfeel when made into fried rice. 

On the other hand, it does not mean that you cannot use fresh rice to cook this dish. It happens to me often, that I crave some fried rice but I don’t have any leftover rice on hand. 

In this case, you can simply make steamed rice. It’s even better if your rice cooker comes with a “hard” texture setting. Once the rice is done, spread it onto a plate so it will cool off faster. Then transfer the rice into the fridge and let it sit there until you’re ready to cook. The rice will still be a bit starchy, but you won’t notice a big difference. 

Mise en place

When you’re ready to cook, your table should have:

Beaten eggs

Seasonings (cumin, chili flakes, salt)

Ground beef

Vegetables (frozen veggie mix and chopped pepper)

Green onions

White rice

A word on cookware

I’ve discussed the best ways to set up your home stir-fry station. Long story short, the most convenient setup is to use your electric stove (or a typical home gas stove) with a large pan, such as the 12” OXO nonstick fry pan or 12” Debuyer Carbon Steel Pan. Both provide enough surface area against the heating element to heat up your pan well, while they’re also deep enough to hold the ingredients during cooking. 

The benefit of using a nonstick pan is that you can use less oil without the food sticking to the pan. That happens a lot when you cook starchy foods such as fried rice. On the other hand, I do prefer my heavier carbon steel pan when it comes to fried rice, to give the rice a better char. Like a cast iron pan, a carbon steel pan becomes quite nonstick once it’s well seasoned. However, in this case, you will need to add a bit more oil to prevent the rice from sticking.

How to make beef fried rice

Make scrambled eggs then remove them from the pan

Brown the beef 

Briefly cook the green onion

Toast the rice

Add the seasonings to the rice

Cook the veggies

Add back the cooked eggs

Mix everything together

That’s all! You will get a big pot of beef rice that has crispy rice, tender eggs, flavorful beef pieces and crunchy veggies.

How to make better fried rice

Believe it or not, the trick to making better fried rice is to stir it less. It seems contradictory to the concept of a stir-fried dish, doesn’t it? The truth is, when you make fried rice, you should let the rice sit on the hot pan long enough to create a crispy char. This is even truer when using a nonstick pan. Always use high heat and make sure the pan is hot (without burning the food) when frying rice. It makes a big difference.

How to serve and store beef fried rice

You can serve the beef fried rice as a one-pot meal, or serve it as a side with some other main dishes.

Beef fried rice keeps well in the fridge. I love to make it in advance and save it for later. It’s a great dish to make for meal-prep and dinner parties because it reheats well.

That’s it! I hope you enjoy this beef fried rice recipe as much as I do. Happy cooking!

More fried rice recipes

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Easy Beef Fried Rice (牛肉炒饭)

This easy beef fried rice uses a bold seasoning of chili and cumin. It requires very little prep and only takes 10 minutes to cook. A one-pan dish that’s satisfying enough to serve as a main for dinner, or packed into your lunch box for meal-prep, or served as a fancy side for your Chinese dinner party. {Gluten-Free adaptable}

To make the dish gluten-free, use tamari or coconut aminos to replace soy sauce.

Author: Maggie Zhu
Course: Main, SideCuisine: ChineseKeyword: homestyle

Prep Time: 12 minutes minutesCook Time: 8 minutes minutesTotal Time: 20 minutes minutes

Ingredients2 1/2 tablespoons peanut oil (or vegetable oil)1/2 lb (225 g) ground beef3 eggs , beaten with a pinch of salt1/4 teaspoon salt (or to taste)1 teaspoon cumin powder1/2 teaspoon chili flakes2 tablespoons soy sauce , separated4 green onions , chopped4 cups cooked jasmine rice (or other medium grain rice) , chilled1 cup frozen veggies (carrot, corn, and/or peas)1 green , diced (or red bell pepper) (I used a mix of both)
InstructionsHeat 1/2 tablespoon of oil in a large nonstick (or carbon steel pan) over medium-high heat until hot. Add the beaten eggs. Let cook until the bottom is set, then gently scramble until just cooked. Transfer to a plate.Add 1/2 tablespoon of oil and the ground beef. Spread the beef across the pan with your spatula to form a thin layer. Let the bottom cook until browned, 2 to 3 minutes. Sprinkle with a pinch of salt, plus half of the cumin powder and chili flakes. Drizzle with 1 tablespoon of soy sauce. Flip the beef and chop it into smaller pieces with your spatula. Cook until the beef is browned.Add the green onion. Stir a few times to release the fragrance.Add the rice and pour 1 tablespoon of oil over the rice. Toss a few times to coat with the oil. Pour the remaining 1 tablespoon of soy sauce over the rice. Sprinkle the rest of the cumin powder and chili flakes. Stir and cook until evenly mixed, 2 to 3 minutes.Move the rice to one side of the pan. Add the remaining 1/2 tablespoon of the oil to the other side, along with the frozen veggies and bell pepper. Stir and cook for a minute to quickly saute the vegetables. Then mix everything together.Add back the cooked eggs. Stir everything together while cutting the eggs into smaller pieces. Transfer everything to a plate and serve hot as a main or side dish.

NutritionServing: 1serving, Calories: 426kcal, Carbohydrates: 61.7g, Protein: 13.6g, Fat: 13.4g, Saturated Fat: 2.9g, Cholesterol: 147mg, Sodium: 664mg, Potassium: 331mg, Fiber: 2.7g, Sugar: 2.9g, Calcium: 65mg, Iron: 6mg

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