The earliest record of Chinese Fried Rice is found in the Sui dynasty (589–618 CE). Though the stir-frying technique used for Chinese Fried Rice was recorded in a much earlier period, it was only in the late Ming dynasty (1368–1644 CE) that the technique became widely popular.
Fried rice is believed to have started as a way to accommodate leftovers. Traditionally, Southern Chinese prefer their rice polished and plain, as a base staple to eat with meat and vegetables. The vegetables, meat and rice leftovers from the day before—which have passed their prime but are still good to consume, and too good to be fed to animals—are seasoned with soy sauce, lard and garlic, and stir-fried, making a hot meal.
The basic elements of fried rice include rice, meat and vegetables, soy sauce and garlic. A number of fried rice recipes have been developed in China, such as Yangzhou and Sichuan fried rice. Leftover cooked rice among the Cantonese is commonly made into fried rice, prepared with chopped vegetables and meat. It is believed that the basic stir-fried technique to cook fried rice, which required Chinese wok, spread from Southern China to other rice farming cultures in East and Southeast Asia.