You start with leftover rice: Cold, cooked rice is actually a better choice here than freshly cooked. Cold grains of rice have had a chance to dry out a bit so that they do not stick together when stir-fried. In fact, make it a habit to order extra takeout rice or cook more than you need for other meals, then refrigerate or freeze the extra so that fried rice is at your fingertips.

Everything cooks in one pan:  The beauty of fried rice is that everything cooks in one pan — you simply build as you go. The shrimp and aromatics cook first, then the veggies, rice, and seasoning are added to heat through. Finally, the eggs get scrambled right in the pan; just push the fried rice to one side and use that empty space to cook the eggs.

Adapt it to your liking:  The beauty of fried rice is that you can swap in ingredients based on what you already have on hand. Because it comes together in a flash — 15 minutes in the pan, to be exact — make sure all of these ingredients are measured and prepped before you turn on the stove.

The protein: This recipe calls for raw shrimp, but if you can only find precooked shrimp, just add it to the pan to heat through when the rice goes in. If it is a side dish, half a pound of shrimp is enough. If it is going to be dinner on its own, go for a full pound.

The rice: You can use brown or white rice here. However, long-grain jasmine rice works best for its texture and fragrance, but choose the rice you like best.

The veggies:  Frozen peas are the easiest way to add sweetness to fried rice, but you can also go for frozen shelled edamame or a pea and carrot blend too. You can also use small-diced zucchini or bell pepper, but they need a little more cooking time, so stir-fry them with the ginger and garlic.

The aromatics: Garlic and ginger add the classic flavors, as does finely chopped onion or shallots instead.

The seasonings:  If you need your fried rice to be gluten-free, use tamari or coconut aminos rather than soy sauce. Do not skip the toasted sesame oil, though, as it adds a nice depth of flavor, especially since it is added in at the end.

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