Bacon and Shiso Fried Rice


This is not ordinary fried rice, but a delightful example of the Japanese excellence in simplicity. Few humble ingredients, quick and easy preparation, subtle seasoning and a sensational result. Even though I have prepared it at least a dozen times this summer, each time I take a first bite I am astounded by the flavours’ complexity and perfect choice of ingredients. I have found this wonderful recipe on Humble Bean blog, a source of refined, but unpretentious Japanese dishes, where I have also discovered the unequaled Tomato and Shiso Salad, my staple during the whole tomato season. Thank you, Azusa, for another extraordinary shiso dish idea.

Shiso (紫蘇) or perilla is a herb widely used in both Korean and Japanese cuisines. I am addicted to its herbaceous, slightly bitter flavour and its strong aroma and apart from the above mentioned salad, you might have seen here some other delicious ways to use it. I know some of you either don’t know shiso or have difficulties in finding it, or both. For those who don’t have nearby Japanese or Korean grocers, I have good news: shiso can also be found in Vietnamese shops (the one I buy is imported from Thailand). Those who cannot find a Vietnamese grocer either, can prepare this simple, but surprisingly flavourful meal using any other herb which supports well warm dishes and which is strong enough to face the powerful scent and flavour of smoked bacon. I haven’t tried it yet, but I have some replacement ideas if anyone is interested.

I have modified the original recipe, stripping this dish of the scrambled egg (after numerous meals, I realised I preferred it either “pure” or with a fried egg on top with a runny yolk) and slightly modifying the proportions. Click here to see Azusa’s recipe.

Talking about bacon… I wanted to share with you something I never get tired of (and believe me, I have watched it more than once),  with a special dedication for all the bacon fans:

Now you know one of my biggest secrets: Ron Swanson is my idol and role model.

TIPS: One day old rice gives here the best results (or even two days’ old according to Azusa), but definitely not freshly cooked rice. If you don’t have one day old rice, cook eat several hours beforehand, leave it to cool down and refrigerate for at least one-two hours.

Very cold rice might be difficult to break into grains, so I always microwave it just before adding to the wok. Warm rice is easier to incorporate.

Azusa says this dish is particularly good with brown rice. Since I’m not a big fan of it, I haven’t tried this version yet, but if you like brown rice, it’s worth remembering.

 Preparation: 15-20 minutes

Ingredients (serves one):

150 g (about 4 oz) cooked rice (the best one is leftover from the day before, but it has to be at least cooked several hours beforehand and refrigerated)

1/2 small onion

2 thin strips of smoked bacon

5 big shiso leaves

1/3 teaspoon finely chopped fresh ginger

1 teaspoon sake

1 teaspoon soy sauce (or more if using low-salt soy sauce)

freshly ground pepper

1 teaspoon sesame oil (to add at the end)


(1 egg)

Cut up the bacon into bite-sized pieces.

Fry it until crispy.

Put aside on paper towels.

Slice the onion and fry it with ginger until the onion softens.

Warm the rice in a microwave (it will help to separate the grains).

Add the rice to the onion and stir-fry, separating the grains  for about 30 seconds.

Add the bacon, the sake, the soy sauce and stir-fry until everything is hot.

(If the bacon is not very salty, you might need to add salt. Do not exaggerate with soy sauce, which might destroy the balance of flavours).

Finally add the shiso cut into thin strips, sprinkle with ground pepper, pour some sesame oil, stir well everything until shiso warms up and serve.

You can fry an egg and serve it on top or incorporate it in the middle of frying process (see Azusa’s instructions).