You’d be hard pushed to find another Asian dish that suits Western tastes better than fried rice, thus it may not be the best fit for your thirst for adventure and exotic foods. However, sometimes when you have had a large dose of Vietnamese exotic food, you might just be craving some familiar grub.

Although in other parts of the world, people tend to hoof down fried rice as a side dish, here in Vietnam, it serves as a full sit down meal for lunch or dinner. Take a large dish of fried rice with beef and pickles and a cup of tra da (iced tea) and you have the perfect lunch combination that just shouts out Vietnamese.

The rice

The rice. Via: avlxyz on Visual Hunt / CC BY-NC

       The consensus is that fried rice should taste a bit dry on the outside but still moist on the inside. So it’s more the matter of the cook’s experience to find the middle ground between the two states: not too dry to make diners feel like they are chewing straw, but not too moist so that the grains stick together.

The most common way to ensure this is to dry the cooked rice in advance. Then when cooking, add eggs to the mix to provide more protein, richness, and also to hydrate it. Eggs also make the whole dish richly golden all the way through to tickle the taste buds.

The toppings and spices

As the Vietnamese adore contrasting flavors and texture, crispy fried rice is often paired with stir-fried beef and pickles, where the savory taste of the beef is neutralized by the sourness of the pickles. The whole thing is then washed down by a large bowl of hot soup served on one side. Fish sauce and soy sauce are the other two magic ingredients when it comes to fried rice. These two add the deeply savory flavor that is quintessential to Vietnamese cooking.