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Red Vietnamese Fried Rice

30 mins Cook
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Presenting the fried rice rendition of the classic Vietnamese red rice – a simple tomato-infused rice traditionally prepared through steaming in a pot. To transform it into a swift and convenient meal, I introduced ham, peas, and eggs. The inclusion of garlic while stir-frying the tomato rice further enriches the flavor profile, hitting the mark perfectly!

Fried Rice Red Vietnamese Fried Rice

Red Vietnamese Fried Rice

Crafting a satisfying fried rice that qualifies as a hearty dinner rather than just a side dish hinges on the art of skillfully incorporating an array of ingredients. Today, we’re delving into the realm of convenience with effortlessly integrated frozen peas, pre-chopped ham, and eggs – all requiring zero effort and preparation. The outcome is a delectable creation I’ve dubbed “Red Vietnamese Fried Rice.”

Let me clarify right from the start: this isn’t a recipe rooted in authentic Vietnamese culinary tradition, at least as far as my knowledge extends. It draws inspiration from the concept of Vietnamese Red Rice, a tomato-infused rice typically accompanied by various meats and mains – reminiscent of Mexican Red Rice. Captivated by its flavor, I aspired to amplify its substance, transforming Vietnamese Red Rice into a standalone feast. The ingenious twist? A metamorphosis into a fried rice medley, resulting in the culinary marvel before you!

What you need

Let’s assemble the essentials for crafting this speedy meal:

1. Day-Old Cooked Rice: It’s crucial to employ refrigerated overnight or thawed frozen cooked rice for optimal texture in all fried rice endeavors. The moisture content of freshly cooked rice could lead to clumping and stickiness. Remember this tip: Maintaining a stash of frozen cooked rice in the freezer proves invaluable for such occasions. I’m almost jittery when I run out!

Emergency Scenario: If you’re faced with a rice shortage, cook your chosen rice, spread it on a tray to swiftly cool on the counter, and then refrigerate it until adequately chilled.

2. Rice Variety: I’ve utilized jasmine rice, a staple in Vietnamese cuisine. However, any variety of plain cooked rice will suffice (white, brown, basmati).

3. Tomato Paste: This imparts the tomato essence and vibrant red hue to the dish.

4. Ham (or Bacon): For ease and to impart robustness to the dish, I’ve chosen pre-chopped ham bits, which possess a more substantial texture compared to thinly sliced deli ham.

5. Fish Sauce: Often deemed the Vietnamese equivalent of soy sauce, fish sauce boasts a profound and intricate flavor profile. Though its aroma might be overpowering on its own, once cooked, it leaves behind a delectable and unparalleled umami note. However, using solely fish sauce for seasoning can be a tad too fishy, even for my palate. Thus, I’ve combined equal parts fish sauce and soy sauce.

6. Soy Sauce: As mentioned earlier, a fusion of fish sauce and soy sauce harmonizes splendidly in this preparation. Opt for light soy sauce or all-purpose soy sauce, steering clear of dark soy sauce, which could overwhelm the dish with its intense flavor.

7. Butter: My preferred fat of choice, as it introduces an extra layer of flavor compared to regular oil. And if you’re wondering whether butter qualifies as an authentic Asian ingredient, remember that Vietnam has a historical connection with France, renowned for its butter-infused cuisine. (Banh Mi is another delightful legacy of this French influence.)

8. Garlic: It’s doubtful you’ll come across a fried rice recipe on my platform that omits garlic!

9. Eggs: To augment the protein content of the dish and to introduce the enticing visual and gustatory appeal of softly golden scrambled egg curds interspersed within the red rice.

10. Frozen Peas: Adding a touch of vibrancy and vegetable goodness to the ensemble. Don’t hesitate to substitute with your preferred chopped vegetables (such as carrots, corn, zucchini) or even a handful of quick-cooking leafy greens (baby spinach, kale, cabbage).

How to make Red Vietnamese Fried Rice

Opt for a generously sized pan to grant yourself ample room for exuberant rice tossing. This spaciousness facilitates achieving a delectable caramelization on the rice. Furthermore, it simplifies the maneuver of shifting the rice to one side, creating a void for seamlessly scrambling the eggs without hindrance.

Commence with the aromatic elements and ham – Begin by melting the butter, allowing the garlic to sauté for a mere 10 seconds to infuse the butter with its essence, ensuring not to let the garlic turn golden just yet. Next, introduce the ham and sauté for approximately 30 seconds. Following suit, incorporate the peas, even if they’re still frozen; another 30 seconds on the heat. Around this juncture, anticipate the garlic to have acquired a gentle golden hue, and the ham to be gradually taking on an inviting coloration.

Transition to the rice and tomato – Introduce the tomato paste and rice, granting them a 2-minute cooking interval to mitigate the raw notes from the tomato paste. Meanwhile, the ham will have acquired a delightful bronzed tint.

Infuse with seasonings – Add the fish sauce, soy sauce, and sugar, and allow them to intermingle for an additional minute. This stage bestows a charming caramelization upon the rice. Don’t truncate this step – caramelization is synonymous with amplified flavor!

Embark on egg scrambling – Nudge the rice to the periphery of the pan, creating an empty space. Infuse a touch of extra butter (a mere teaspoon will suffice) into this vacant area, and pour in the eggs, initiating the scrambling process. Owing to the pan’s residual heat, this endeavor will conclude in just about 1 minute.

Incorporate the scrambled eggs into the rice mixture.

Voilà! There you have it – you’re done. It’s time to indulge in your creation!

Serve as a meal – or a side

I’ve been whipping up this delightful creation for myself as a swift lunch option, although it effortlessly doubles as an excellent side dish to complement a Vietnamese or Asian-themed spread. Occasionally, I amplify the vegetable medley with a handful of bean sprouts and thinly sliced cabbage, infusing a burst of freshness and augmenting the veggie content in my bowl. This dish is inherently adaptable in this respect, but caution is advised not to go overboard and risk diluting the intricate flavors. We certainly wouldn’t want that to occur!

I sincerely encourage you to give it a shot. Should you decide to embark on this culinary journey, do share your thoughts with me! Also, let’s not forget the tip of the day: maintain a stash of cooked plain rice in your freezer. This invaluable resource ensures you’re always prepared to serve it alongside your assortment of stir-fries or, as apt for today’s recipe, to promptly conjure a delectable fried rice whenever the craving arises – whether it’s this Vietnamese rendition or any of my other creative renditions!

Red Vietnamese Fried Rice

Red Vietnamese Fried Rice

Presenting the fried rice rendition of the classic Vietnamese red rice – a simple tomato-infused rice traditionally prepared through steaming in a pot. To transform it into a swift and convenient meal, I introduced ham, peas, and eggs. The inclusion of garlic while stir-frying the tomato rice further enriches the flavor profile, hitting the mark perfectly!
prep time
10 mins
cooking time
30 mins
total time
40 mins



  • 30g / 2 tbsp unsalted butter

  • 3 garlic cloves , finely minced

  • 1/2 cup diced ham (I use pre-chopped, Note 1)

  • 1 cup frozen peas

  • 2 1/2 cups day-old cooked jasmine rice (Note 2)

  • 2 tbsp tomato paste

  • 2 tsp fish sauce (Note 3)

  • 2 tsp soy sauce (all purpose or light, not dark soy, Note 4)

  • 1/4 tsp white sugar

  • 2 eggs , whisked


Begin by melting most of the butter in a generously sized non-stick skillet set over high heat, reserving a small amount for the egg scrambling later.
Garlic Phase: Introduce the garlic into the sizzling butter and allow it to infuse for a brief 10 seconds.
Ham Encounter: Incorporate the ham, stirring it into the mix for a span of about 30 seconds.
Pea and Delight: Follow suit by adding the peas, gently stirring them in for another half a minute.
Rice and Tomato Dance: Introduce the rice and tomato paste into the ensemble, granting them approximately 2 minutes of cooking time.
Flavor Fusion with Sauces: Now, infuse the dish with a trifecta of fish sauce, soy sauce, and sugar. This amalgamation benefits from a minute of cooking to bestow a delectable touch of caramelization onto the tomato-infused rice.
Scrambling Artistry: Nudge the rice to one side of the pan, crafting a vacant area. Here, employ the reserved butter, allowing it to melt before introducing the beaten egg. Swiftly scramble the egg until it attains a delicate setting, a process that usually takes around a minute due to the pan's residual heat.
Culmination and Presentation: Mingle the scrambled egg with the rice, ensuring even distribution. Your creation is now ready to be savored!


Ham: I opt for readily available store-bought pre-chopped ham, a convenience that streamlines the process. However, if you're inclined, any ham you've personally chopped also works splendidly (preferably thick-cut, if attainable). Should you desire a twist, bacon is a viable alternative. Rice: While any variety of rice is suitable (white, brown, basmati), jasmine rice holds particular popularity in Vietnamese cuisine. For optimal texture, it's recommended to employ overnight refrigerated or thawed frozen cooked rice in fried rice recipes. Freshly cooked rice retains excessive moisture, causing the fried rice to clump and become excessively sticky. The flavor remains unaffected, yet the texture falls short. In a fried rice predicament (it's not unheard of...), prepare your chosen rice, spread it on a tray for rapid cooling, and subsequently refrigerate it until adequately chilled. {P.S.: Personally, I always keep bags of frozen cooked rice in my freezer. I tend to experience a slight tremor if I find myself without any.} Fish Sauce: A cornerstone of Vietnamese gastronomy, fish sauce contributes an extra layer of flavor. Rest assured, any fishiness is extinguished through cooking. If necessary, you can substitute it with a greater quantity of soy sauce, but omitting it would veer away from the authentic Vietnamese essence. (Just a friendly nudge!) soy Sauce: Opt for light or all-purpose soy sauce. The intense character of dark soy sauce is too overpowering for this context!
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