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Enjoy a fragrant Chinese-Thai fusion in this chicken fried rice recipe
Skip the takeout tonight and make this sweet, spicy, and fragrant chicken fried rice recipe instead. This exotic dish is perfumed with a few squeezes of a navel orange paired with licoricey basil, pungent Asian seasonings, and a little spicy heat.
Plus, it’s perfect for reviving leftover rice if you need to clear out your fridge. It takes a little effort and a hearty list of ingredients, but I promise you that it’s totally worth it!
How to make Orange Basil Chicken Fried Rice
Velvet the chicken to keep it tender and juicy
I bet your thinking, “What does this soft and shiny fabric have to do with my chicken?” Well, the good news is that there is no fabric involved here. However, velveting is a Chinese cooking technique that uses marination and pre-cooking methods to enhance the flavor of the chicken (or meat and seafood) while also giving it a more succulent texture.
The velveting technique is ideal when cooking meat at a high temperature for a brief period, like when sauteeing or stir-frying to ensure the meat does not dry out or become tough. It gives the cook some safety to turn up the heat and still maintain the meat!
Why you should use leftover rice
Normally, when making a stir-fry, I use leftover rice or noodles. The reason is that there is less moisture in leftover rice which helps to prevent it from becoming mushy or breaking apart when cooking it a second time.
In this recipe, I didn’t have any leftovers so I just made some Jasmine rice. I chose Jasmine rice because its aromatic and floral essence beautifully complements orange and basil.
If cooking the rice rather than using leftovers, you can either make it ahead and allow it cool before frying or cook it according to the package instructions using about 2 tablespoons less water. Drier rice makes a better stir-fry.
Season, saute and “stir-fry” the rice
Ready to get your stir-fry on?
Great! If you own a wok, go on witcha bad self! Unfortunately, I don’t have one yet, which is why I said “stir-fry.” So, instead, I used a large well-seasoned cast-iron skillet (paid link). It holds on to high heat longer than other types of metal and its smooth surface provides a great sear to food without too much sticking.
Since there are quite a few ingredients in this chicken fried rice recipe, here’s how you can stay organized and move more quickly:
- Prep the seasonings for the rice. In a small bowl, combine all of the ‘Spice Blend’ ingredients to make a paste. In another small bowl, combine all of the ‘Stir-fry Sauce’ ingredients.
- Saute the veggies and spices. Then, make a well in the middle of the pan and add the ‘Spice Blend.’
- Add the rice and sauce. Stir them together, then pat it down to create caramelization at the bottom. Using a spatula, scrape the bottom of the pan and flip a portion of rice at a time until all of it has been caramelized.
- Add the peas and herbs. It gives the rice a more vibrant color and freshness!
Now, you can enjoy your ‘takeout’ at home! Eat up fam.
Pin this Recipe
- 1 c uncooked Jasmine rice (yields 3 c cooked rice/6 servings)
- 1/2 TB coconut oil
- 1 large chicken breast, sliced thinly
- Juice from the other half of the orange or the remaining 2 TB of orange juice
- 1 TB soy sauce
- 1/4 tsp white pepper
- 1 tsp ginger paste*
- 1 tsp garlic paste*
- 1 tsp cornstarch
- Pinch salt
- 1 tsp coriander
- 1 tsp cumin
- 1/2 tsp paprika
- 1/4 tsp cayenne
- 1/8 tsp five spice
- 1 navel orange, halved or 1/4 c orange juice, divided
- 2 TB soy sauce
- 1 TB mirin*
- 1 tsp fish sauce or anchovy paste
- 2 TB sriracha*
- 1 tsp sugar
- 1 tsp coconut oil
- 4 scallions, chopped, white parts only (save green parts)
- 1/3 c red bell pepper, diced
- 1/2 c onion, diced
- 3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
- 3 dried Thai chilies* (optional)
Peas & Herbs
- 1/4 c frozen peas
- 1/3 c fresh basil, torn
- Green parts of the scallions
- Prep the rice. Prepare the rice according to the instructions on its packaging. Once cooked, remove it from the heat. Keep it covered and allow it to steam. If it is still firm, that is okay since it will be cooked more later.
- Velvet the chicken. Thinly slice the chicken against the grain. Put the pieces in a medium-size bowl and squeeze half of the orange (or 2 TB of orange juice) over the chicken. Next, add the remaining ingredients listed under 'Chicken' except the coconut oil. Gently massage the chicken pieces with your hands to evenly coat them with the seasonings and cornstarch, as well as to tenderize them. In a large skillet on high heat, sear the chicken pieces in the coconut oil until lightly browned and no longer pink. Remove the chicken from the skillet and set aside.
- Prep the seasonings. In a small bowl, combine all of the 'Spice Blend' ingredients to make a paste. In another small bowl, combine all of the 'Stir-fry Sauce' ingredients.
- Saute away. Place the skillet back onto the heat at medium temperature. Saute together all of the ingredients listed under 'Veggies'. Once they have softened, make a well in the middle of the pan and add the 'Spice Blend.' Stir it in the center for about 30 seconds, then mix it in with the veggies.
- Stir-fry the rice. Dump the cooked rice on top of the veggies. Then, pour the 'Stir-fry Sauce' over the rice. Mix everything together and pat it down to create caramelization on the bottom. Using a spatula, scrape the bottom of the pan and flip a portion of rice at a time until all of it has been caramelized. (Be careful not to burn the rice, but just brown it slightly. Depending on the type of skillet you are using, you may have to turn the heat down as you go and stir constantly.)
- Bring it to life! Lastly, turn off the heat and toss in the peas, basil, and green parts of the scallions. Once the peas are warmed through, you're ready to eat. Enjoy!
- Leftover rice works well since the moisture content will be greatly reduced, perfect for stir-frying.
- Brown, black, or wild rice would also work well.
Other Ingredient Substitutes (*)
- Mirin: 1 TB dry sherry, white wine, or rice wine vinegar with 1/2 tsp sugar
- Sriracha: 2 TB ketchup + 2 tsp chili paste/sambal (or 1/2 tsp crushed red pepper)
- Ginger paste: 1/2 tsp ginger powder OR 1 tsp chopped fresh ginger
- Garlic paste: 1/2 tsp garlic powder OR 1 tsp chopped fresh garlic
- Dried Thai chilies: 1/4 tsp red chili flakes
Tips 'n' Tricks
- Using leftover rice is preferable, as it will have evaporated some of its moisture. However, if cooking the rice for this recipe, use about 2 TB less water when boiling the rice so that it is firmer. Then allow it to cool slightly to release its steam and prevent it from becoming mushy when stir-frying.
- Another option is to hard sear the rice in a bit more oil, stirring it constantly so that it's chewier and slightly crispier in texture.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 6 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 138Total Fat: 3gSaturated Fat: 2gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 1gCholesterol: 17mgSodium: 701mgCarbohydrates: 18gFiber: 2gSugar: 6gProtein: 9g
The nutrition information provided is an estimate and will vary based on cooking methods and brands of ingredients used. I am not a doctor, nor a certified nutritionist and make no claims to the contrary. Each individual’s dietary needs and restrictions are unique to the individual. You are ultimately responsible for all decisions pertaining to your health. Please consult your personal physician with any questions you may have regarding your own health and diet.