Chahan with Pickled Ginger, King Oyster Mushroom and Pork Belly / チャーハン (Japanese Fried Rice)

During Covid-19 related lockdowns and quarantines, many local restaurants converted into takeaway establishments and thus Athens’ Birdman, a Japanese style pub + grill, became Ekiben, a takeaway and delivery service inspired by Japanese railway lunches and bento. One day I ordered their ‘pork katsu sando’ and their ‘rib eye don’, two different dishes that were both so amazing I announced on Instagram (@highsnackspectations where I do food reviews) that I was going to cry from sheer happiness. A bit dramatic, perhaps, but there was some truth to it. The rib eye was delectable, naturally, but the ‘chahan’, it was served with was out of this world (again a bit dramatic, but true). This Japanese fried rice was made with fluffy seasoned Japanese short grain rice, pieces of king oyster mushroom, charred corn, pickled ginger (yes, the kind you usually get with sushi) and spring onion – at least, these are the ingredients I believe I could identify. It was SO delicious I wanted to eat it again a few days later, but unfortunately discovered it had been discontinued on their takeaway menu… Devastating, really. What was a girl to do? Spoiler: I made my own version and you can find the recipe below.



Chahan (チャーハン), sometimes referred to as yakimeshi (焼き飯), is a staple food in Japanese homes and restaurants. The popular fried rice dish was likely introduced to Japan by Chinese immigrants near the end of the nineteenth century, with ‘chahan‘ being a transliteration of chǎo fàn (炒飯), the Chinese symbol used to refer to the family of fried rice dishes originating from different regions in China. In fact, you can even find it written with those same symbols in Japan as well. While chahan is indeed a style of fried rice obviously influenced by those different types of Chinese chǎo fàn, you can often find it made with Japanese short-grain rice rather than the usual long-grain used in other countries and you may find it flavoured according to ‘Japanese tastes’ with the use of ingredients such as katsuoboshi, dashi, mirin, shiso, nori, gari, or beni shōga.

Both gari and beni shōga – two types of tsukemono (meaning ‘pickled things’) made with ginger – are generally served on top or on the side as a garnish, as shown, for example, by the chef from what is still one of my favourite YouTube channels after over a decade of watching and where I probably heard about chahan for the first time: Cooking with Dog (Video here ).

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My Chahan (This is Just a Tribute!)

Now, I don’t know the exact recipe for the previously-mentioned restaurant’s fried rice, neither is my intention to blatantly copy someone else’s work (not that I’d be able to do so as a simple home cook), but let’s just say that my fried rice recipe below was heavily inspired by my meal that day and slightly influenced by my near two-decades-long love for Japanese cuisine and culture. If I were a bit more confident, I’d say it’s a tribute.

My chahan is also made with leftover Japanese short-grain rice, finely chopped king oyster mushroom (but regular oyster mushroom or shiitake would be good too), gari (leftovers from a sushi dinner a few days ago) and fresh spring onions. While I’ve just noted that gari and beni shoga are usually served as an edible garnish, in both Ekiben’s dish (still: just guessing) and mine below, the pickled ginger is very finely chopped and mixed through the rice so that each bite is infused with that delicious gingery heat. Of course, you can still serve some extra gari or beni shoga on the side if you want to.
As for some differences: Ekiben’s delicious rib-eye is a tad too luxurious – heavenly, but luxurious – for a regular weekday meal and an entire pork katsu sandwich wouldn’t be fitting here, so I’ve added some juicy tiny cubes of pork belly into the mix instead, which fits amazingly well with the gingery rice. I omitted the charred corn that was part of the restaurant’s dish as well because I don’t have a hibachi grill on hand and don’t want this fried rice recipe to be too fussy. I did add egg, which is not at all similar besides the colour, but it works. Of course, should you have some leftover corn or other vegetables that need to be used up, do add them. After all, the joy of any fried rice dish is to be able to add whatever you like or have leftover!


Note: Serves 4 as a side served with other dishes, or 2 – 3 as a main.


Chahan with Pickled Ginger, King Oyster Mushroom and Pork Belly /チャーハン (Japanese Fried Rice)

0.0 rating
  • GF
  • DF
Japanese style fried rice dish with pickled ginger (gari), king oyster mushrooms pieces and juicy pork belly
  • Difficulty:Easy
  • Prep Time:10 mins
  • Cook Time:10 mins
  • Serves:4
  • Freezable:Yes

Nutrition per portion

  • 450g cooked and chilled Japanese short-grain white rice
  • Sunflower oil
  • 1 shallot
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 200g boneless pork belly
  • 120g king oyster mushroom (or other)
  • 2 large eggs
  • 35g pickled ginger (gari, "sushi ginger"), or more to taste
  • Splash of light soy sauce, to taste
  • 1 tablespoon mirin
  • ½ teaspoon Aji-no-moto / MSG
  • Pinch of ground white pepper
  • 1 spring onion
  1. Prep: dice the pork into 1 - 2cm pieces and finely dice the mushrooms. Very finely chop the pickled ginger, shallot and garlic. Cut spring onion into thin rings. Beat the eggs.
  2. Coat the inside of a wok with sunflower oil and place over high heat. Once the wok begins to smoke a little, add the chopped shallot and garlic and sauté until fragrant. Add the diced pork and sauté until it’s almost fully cooked, then add the mushroom and sauté until tender.
  3. Once fully cooked, push aside the ingredients in the wok a little and pour in the egg. Cook until halfway cooked then break up into pieces with a spatula.
  4. Add chilled white rice and the chopped pickled ginger and sauté until ingredients are mixed through.
  5. Season rice with the soy sauce, mirin, Aji-no-moto (MSG), and white pepper. Toss and stir until well combined.
  6. Once the rice is heated through, add chopped spring onion and remove from heat. Serve hot.

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