Fried rice is a cult classic; it combines a variety of grains, vegetables, and protein to create something delicious. For the most part, you can't go wrong, right? 

Tuna Fried Rice

jules:stonesoup on Flickr

With that being said, fried rice is one of those perfect, throw together meals you can make pretty cheaply in college. Whether you use fresh rice from a rice cooker or Uncle Ben's microwavable rice, all you need is a pan and some creativity. 

For this test, writer and photographer Izzy Tice and I went head to head to see who could make the better fried rice using what we had in our dorms. And what we happened to have, was Pepperoni and Spam.

Izzy Tice

Pepperoni Fried Rice

Ingredients: Rice (1 cup), pepperoni (7 Pieces), corn, carrots, onions, an egg, soy sauce (3 Tbs), sriracha (1 Tsp), rice vinegar (1 Tbs), garlic powder (2 Tbs), red pepper flakes, salt, and pepper to taste. 

*Note that I'm someone who likes to cook by taste and visuals, so add ingredients to your liking. Also, I stole the vegetables from the dining hall so add that as a little life hack in of itself.

Directions: I started out by putting some oil on the pan and scrambling the egg on high heat. Once it was cooked through enough, I added all of the vegetables and a bunch of pepperoni and cooked that for about two minutes. Once that was done, I added in the rice, mixed it around, and added the rest of the seasonings.

The Result: Pepperoni Version

Izzy Tice

My Review: It's edible. It wasn't bad but I didn't realize how strong of a flavor the pepperoni gave off, so when I finished it up the fried rice felt very greasy. I was really hungry at the time so I was able to finish a good portion of it. I've used this fried rice recipe several times in the past, just replacing the proteins and slightly adjusting the proportions and it's worked fine before. For example, if you replaced the pepperoni with chicken or duck, it comes out perfect. Although, this time I was winging it a little bit by additionally adding sriracha and using garlic powder instead of fresh garlic. But honestly, a 5/10 only because of how the pepperoni overwhelmed most of the flavors and didn't taste great with the soy sauce. 

Izzy's Review: "I wasn't really sure what Adam was planning with his ingredients, but I let him do his own thing, and the result was... something? I think that most of the dish worked together really well, but the pepperoni just had too much grease and was too strong of a flavor against the vegetables and the seasonings. Combined with the soy sauce, the meat had an odd taste, and it wasn't necessarily bad, but it was definitely an unexpected flavor. It was a very filling dish, though, because of all of the oil and fat from various ingredients. Overall, I'd probably eat it again, but only if someone else made it for me. 4/10

Spam Fried Rice

Izzy Tice

Ingredients: Rice (1 Cup), Turkey Spam (1/3rd of a Can), an egg, soy sauce (2 Tbs), garlic powder (3 Tbs), ketchup (2 Packets), oil, salt, and pepper to taste.

Directions: Slice up the spam into individual slices, and cook them with a small amount of oil (Preferably three slices, but add more as you please) and sear both sides until crisp. Once they are done, remove from pan and add in the rice. With the rice, add in a lot of garlic (Like, two tablespoons) and soy sauce, then add salt and pepper to taste. 

Once the rice is finished, remove it from the pan and fry an egg to your liking. (Overeasy, sunny side up, scrambled)

To plate, first put the rice in the bowl, add the slices of spam on top, with the egg, and pour some ketchup on the side. Then, when you're ready to eat, mix it all together and enjoy. Salt and pepper to taste.

Izzy Tice

My Review: Considering how extra mine was, I honestly think Izzy's was better for how simple it was. Granted, I'm someone who really enjoys Spam so I loved how well everything came together. Growing up, I made fried rice very differently so I really enjoyed being able to watch a different process and give it a taste. Overall, 8/10 for the simplicity and sticking to the roots of fried rice.

Izzy's Review: "My grandfather always makes this for me and my siblings for breakfast, and though it's a pretty simple recipe, I can never get mine to taste like his. However, it's kind of hard to mess up the combination of rice, soy sauce, and garlic, and you can definitely adjust the amounts of each to your own liking. This dish is easier to make, but the flavor is exactly what you expect, so it's not very adventurous or surprising to the taste. I'll keep making this dish because it's pretty inexpensive, but my version will never taste as good as my grandfather's. 7/10.

Final Thoughts

Izzy Tice

After comparing the two together, I think the clear winner was Izzy's because it took less ingredients to make, and didn't have a protein that took over. Although, I learned a lot from just winging it in the kitchen to feed myself. For example, taking a random meat won't always make good fried rice. Sometimes you just have to experiment with what you have, but you may end up with some fantastic concoctions. 

If you're ever in the mood to make fried rice, here are some ideas for using what's around you:

Restaurant leftovers

Dining hall soy sauce/chicken

Farmer's market vegetables

& plenty more.

Stay creative!