Easy to make and packed with flavor and aroma, Tom Yum fried rice is best summed up in one word: Unforgettable. In this simple, easy-to-follow recipe, you’ll learn how to make an all-veggie version from the comfort of your own kitchen. The best part? It takes less than 22 minutes to prepare!
We love the versatility of fried rice. It is one of the best ways to turn leftover rice into a quick and delicious lunch or dinner in no time. So if you love Thai food and are wondering how to make a restaurant-worthy meal out of your leftover rice from the night before, you’ll want to check out our Thai pineapple fried rice and Thai green curry fried rice recipes.
What to expect from this recipe?
This aromatic, palate-awakening stir-fry is brought to life by Tom Yum sauce. Packed with the flavors of lemongrass, kaffir lime leaves, galangal, fresh chilies, and fresh lime juice, it isn’t just a staple food in Thai kitchens but is perhaps one of the most famous Asian recipes. When combined with leftover fried rice, you get a spicy, citrusy, and belly-pleasing dish that will make you crave more after the last bite!
Here’s why you’ll love this Tom Yum fried rice recipe:
- It takes less than 30 minutes to prepare, perfect for those last-minute lunches or dinners.
- The sauce is 100% made from scratch. There is no pre-packaged Tom Yum paste in this recipe!
- It is super aromatic with the perfect blend of citrus and spice.
- It is highly versatile and customizable to your unique taste and preferences.
- This recipe is one of the best things you can do with your leftover rice from the previous night!
Tom Yum sauce contains numerous herbs and spices to give it its savory flavor and aroma. You can find most, if not all, of the ingredients in your local grocery store or Asian specialty supermarkets. However, below we provide several alternatives and substitutes for the ingredients that maybe not be on hand at home:
- Coconut oil → It is best for high-heat frying and has no coconut flavor. However, you can use any vegetable oil.
- Onion (small)
- Jasmine rice → Although long-grain white rice is best for fried rice, we like to use jasmine rice for the added aroma. You can also use basmati rice.
- Soy sauce → Or use tamari to make it gluten-free.
- Sugar → Any sugar will work. However, if you use honey, it will no longer be a vegan dish. Use one of these honey substitutes instead.
- Ginger (minced) → You can also use galangal if available.
- Lemongrass → Fresh lemon or lime zest is also an option.
- Kaffir lime leaves → Bay leaves are also an acceptable substitute.
- Thai chili paste
- Thai red chili flakes
- Lime juice → For the best flavor, use freshly squeezed lime juice.
- Tomatoes → We recommend large deseeded tomatoes, which have more flesh and less water. However, if that is all you have, cherry tomatoes will work just as well.
- Shiitake mushrooms
- Cilantro (freshly chopped)
- Salt and black pepper
🛒 You can find detailed measurements for all ingredients in the printable version of the recipe card at the bottom of this post.
Preparing the ingredients
- Start by peeling and chopping the onion and scallion.
- Then, wash, slice, and deseed the tomatoes.
- Gently clean the shiitake mushrooms with a damp towel, if needed (no need to wash them). Slice them into pieces if they are too large.
- Next, peel and mince the fresh ginger.
- Squeeze the fresh lime juice into a small bowl.
- Measure out the remaining ingredients.
Making Tom Yum fried rice
- Preheat your wok over medium-high heat, then add the coconut oil.
- Add the chopped onion to the wok and saute it for approximately 3 minutes.
- Add the shiitake mushrooms and season them with salt and pepper to your desired taste.
- Next, stir in the sugar, lemongrass (or lemon/lime zest), minced ginger, soy sauce, kaffir lime leaves (or bay leaves), Thai red chili paste, lime juice, and Thai chili flakes. Stir it well and boil it for approximately 2-3 minutes.
- Add the leftover rice and stir it well to mix with the sauce. Fry the mixture for 4-5 minutes.
- Stir in the tomato slices and scallion. Fry the mixture for an additional minute, then remove it from the heat.
- Stir in the freshly chopped cilantro, then serve and enjoy.
- Use day-old rice: One of the best parts about fried rice recipes is that they are ideal for quickly turning leftover rice into a brand-new, delicious dish! Freshly cooked rice turns sticky and soggy when added to a hot wok and is much easier to burn. Therefore, we recommend using cooked and cooled rice from the day of or the day prior.
- High heat is best for fried recipes: When it comes to making fried rice, the higher the heat, the better! The high heat will ensure that your vegetables stay crunchy when finished versus soft. It also speeds up the cooking process, making for a quick lunch or dinner.
- Other types of rice – In this recipe, we use jasmine rice for the aroma. However, you can also use basmati rice or American long-grain white rice. Brown rice is a healthier, lower-calorie alternative. If watching your carbs, consider using cauliflower or broccoli rice instead. Short-grain white rice is also an acceptable alternative.
- Other vegetables – Add or swap out the veggies in the recipes with other crunchy ones such as zucchini, green pepper, peas, carrots, bok choy, chopped celery stalks, or Chinese broccoli. You’ll want to try our broccoli lentil stir-fry for a delicious stir-fry to help you get in your daily dose of veggies.
- Other protein sources – Many popular toppings for tom yum fried rice are not vegan like shrimp, chicken, pork, and eggs. However, you can still have a protein-loaded dish if you add one of the following vegan-friendly alternatives: extra firm tofu like in our teriyaki tofu stir-fry, TVP (texture vegetable protein), or tofu scramble like in our Pad Woon Sen recipe.
- Kid-friendly option – For a more kid-friendly dish, consider using a milder chili paste to cut back on the spice and skip the ginger to reduce the strong aroma.
Several meatless options can take the flavor of your Tom Yum fried rice to the next level! Keep your taste buds guessing by trying toppings such as
- roasted nuts – cashews and peanuts are popular additions to fried rice recipes)
- chopped cucumber
- chili flakes for a kick of heat
- lemon/lime wedges for a tangy drizzle of flavor
- more chopped scallion
- drizzle of sesame oil on top
- Wok – A wok is always recommended for stir-frying recipes because they quickly and evenly generate heat to cook the dish efficiently. Additionally, its oversized shape and tall, sloping sides allow you to quickly and easily move the food around as it cooks without burning or spilling. A wok will also fit more food and require less cooking oil than a regular frying pan.
- Cast-iron skillet – If you don’t have a wok, use a cast-iron skillet or frying pan. We love our skillet from UnoCasa. They are great for cooking dishes that require high heat and retaining that heat during and after the cooking process.
- Garlic press – Garlic presses aren’t only for garlic! You can also use it to mince the ginger and manually juice the lime required in this recipe.
- Fridge – Although a plant-based food, rice is highly susceptible to bacteria and shouldn’t be left out at room temperature for longer than necessary. Once you are finished, immediately store the leftover tom yum fried rice in an airtight refrigerator for up to four days. The rice will dry out over time, so the sooner you use it, the better.
- Reheating – When you’re ready to heat the leftovers, you can do so on the stove, in the oven, or in the microwave. For the best results, add some water before reheating to add moisture to the rice. The rice should be piping hot before you serve it to ensure you kill any surviving bacteria. Only reheat the rice once.
- Freezer – We don’t recommend freezing it since it already uses leftover rice.
The ideal temperature for frying rice is 350-375 °F. If you don’t have a thermometer, you can test the oil by dropping a small amount of the sauce mixture. If the sauce sizzles, the oil is hot enough.
Asian recipes typically try to combine different flavors within one dish. Which means recipes are sweet, savory, and bitter at the same time. You can skip sugar since you don’t need that much, but the taste will slightly alter. You can compensate for it by adding veggies like sweet corn or sweet potatoes.
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Tom Yum Fried Rice
- 1 Tbsp Coconut oil
- 1 Onion small
- 1 Scallion
- 2 cup Jasmine rice measured as cooked
- 3 Tbsp Soy sauce
- 2 tsp Granulated sugar
- 1 tsp Ginger minced
- ½ tsp Lemongrass
- 5 Kaffir lime leaves
- 2 Tbsp Thai chili paste
- ½ tsp Thai red chili flakes
- 4 Tbsp Lime juice
- 2 Tomatoes
- 3.5 oz Shiitake mushrooms
- ¼ cup Freshly chopped cilantro
- ½ tsp Salt
- ⅛ tsp Black pepper
Preparing the ingredients
- Peel and chop the onion and the scallion.
- Wash, slice, and deseed the tomatoes.
- Slice the shiitake mushrooms if they are too large. No need to wash them. Gently clean them with a damp towel if need be.
- Peel and mince fresh ginger.
- Squeeze the lime.
- Measure all other ingredients.
Making Tom Yum fried rice
- Pre-heat wok to medium high heat. Add coconut oil.
- Add chopped onion. Sautee for 3 minutes.
- Add shiitake mushrooms. Season with salt and pepper.
- Add sugar, lemongrass, minced ginger, soy sauce, kaffir lime leaves, Thai red chili paste, lime juice, Thai chili flakes. Stir well. Boil it for 2-3 minutes.
- Add leftover rice. Stir well. Fry for 4-5 minutes.
- Add tomato slices and scallion. Stir well. Fry for 1 minute. Take off heat.
- Add freshly chopped cilantro. Stir well.
- Before serving, take the kaffir lime leaves out. They are similar to bay leaves to provide flavor, but we don’t eat them.
- Day-old rice is better than freshly made – Fried rice recipes are ideal for using leftover rice and making something quick for a weeknight lunch or dinner. If you precook the rice and add it to the wok while it is still hot, it will be sticky and soggy. It is also easier to burn. We recommend using cooled rice made the day of or the day before.
- Frying is about high heat – It is not a sauteed rice recipe but a fried one. The vegetables will stay crunchy at the end rather than soft. It also makes for an easy and quick dish!