Garlic Fried Rice (Chahan) 1.000

Renee Comet for The Washington Post; styling by Bonnie S. Benwick

Plate Lab Dec 21, 2014

Izakaya Seki chef Hiroshi Seki makes fried rice look simple, but the combination and quality of the ingredients are crucial. The result is pure comfort food, sublime as a late-night snack but satisfying anytime.

Make Ahead: The cooked rice needs to be completely cooled in the refrigerator, preferably overnight. It can be refrigerated for up to 1 week or frozen for up to 6 months. Defrost before making the fried rice.

Where to Buy: Shiso (a Japanese herb in the mint family), mirin and nori (dried seaweed sheets) can be found at Asian markets; nori can also be found in many larger supermarkets and health-food stores.

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When you scale a recipe, keep in mind that cooking times and temperatures, pan sizes and seasonings may be affected, so adjust accordingly. Also, amounts listed in the directions will not reflect the changes made to ingredient amounts.

Tested size: 1-2 servings

  • 1/2 cup plus 2 teaspoons canola oil (may substitute sunflower oil or cottonseed oil)
  • 4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • 1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
  • 1 1/2 cups cooked, cooled Japanese short-grain rice (see NOTE)
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 tablespoon sake
  • 1 tablespoon mirin (Japanese rice wine, optional; see headnote)
  • 1 teaspoon low-sodium soy sauce, plus more to taste
  • 1 tablespoon thinly sliced shiso leaves (see headnote; may substitute scallions)
  • 1 tablespoon thinly sliced nori (see headnote)


Line a plate with a few layers of paper towels.

Combine 1/2 cup of the canola oil and the garlic in a small saucepan over medium heat. Let the oil slowly heat up; fry the garlic slices until they are deep golden brown, about 3 to 4 minutes from the time the oil is hot. Use a slotted spoon to transfer them to the paper-towel-lined plate. (Reserve the flavored oil for salad dressings and other uses.)

Crush the sliced garlic into small pieces; reserve 1 tablespoon for the rice. (Reserve the remaining fried garlic to garnish soups and salads, or for more fried rice another time.)

Pour the remaining 2 teaspoons canola oil and the sesame oil into a medium nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Swirl to coat, then add the rice, using a wooden spoon or paddle to break it up. Stir-fry it until the rice is coated in the oil and warmed through, a few minutes, shaking the pan to keep the rice moving.

Sprinkle with the salt and sugar; pour the sake and mirin, if using, around the edges of the pan, then stir them in. Sprinkle in the soy sauce, stir-frying briefly, just until the rice is coated. Add the tablespoon of reserved garlic pieces and shiso; continue stir-frying another minute or two, until the rice is glossy but dry. Taste, and add a little more soy sauce, if desired.

Scrape the fried rice onto a plate, sprinkle it with nori, and serve hot.

NOTE: Follow the package directions for cooking the rice or use a rice cooker, if possible. If not, use these guidelines for most Japanese short-grain rices on the stove top: The rice will triple in volume as it swells, so for 1 1/2 cups cooked rice, start with 1/2 cup rice. Wash it in a strainer several times, until the water runs mostly clear. Transfer it to a small saucepan and add water in a 1:1 ratio (1/2 cup water for 1/2 cup rice). Let the rice soak for 30 minutes, then turn the heat to medium, bring the water to a boil, lower the heat until the water is barely bubbling, cover, and cook for 25 minutes, until the water is absorbed. Turn off the heat and let the rice sit, covered, for 15 minutes, then uncover and fluff with a fork. Let it cool completely (preferably at least overnight) before making fried rice.

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Recipe Source

Adapted from a recipe by Hiroshi Seki, chef-owner of Izakaya Seki in Northwest Washington.

Tested by Joe Yonan.

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