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Fried Rice as a Main Dish for 30 People

I have been tasked with cooking a fried rice dinner for about 30 people (give or take). This will be my first time cooking for this many people. Oh, and I'll be cooking up this feast at a dry campsite. (!) I'll have a nice camp kitchen available along with a small crew of 5 people to lend a hand.

I'll probably cook rice the night before or earlier the same day since leftover rice is better for making fried rice. I have given some thought to making the rice at home and bringing it in bags to keep in the cooler, but I imagine rice for 30 would take up more room than I have.

The fried rice I make will be the only course and the organizers of the event have asked that I provide enough food for everyone to have seconds if they wish. I have a recipe in mind and I know how to scale it up, but I'm not sure how much to make.

Here are my questions: How much rice should I prepare per person so that each person can get two helpings? How much is a single-course serving (in cups)? Do you have any thoughts on bringing prepared rice vs cooking it on the spot?


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  1. depends how much other stuff you'll have in there (pork, veggies, etc.) but if this is to be the only meal component i'd plan on at least 1 cup cooked rice per serving. not everybody will have seconds, but rice is so cheap, i''d make plenty extra.

    you're right, cooked rice will take up lots of space, so just pack the dry, and cook it ahead as far as possible.

    1. The times I've seen fried rice prepared on cooking shows, the methods have been contradictory.
      Some insist that the cooked rice be spread on a sheet pan and left out until needed for fried rice. Other cooks claim cooked rice becomes tainted if left out, and insist on it being refrigerated overnight. I imagine that in Asia, most leftover rice is left at room temp.

      I would think you'd be safe to cook the rice at home, get it cold, then bring it unrefrigerated to the camp if you'll be making the fried rice the next day. If you allow a pint of cooked rice per person, that will be ample. So, that would be 30 cups of dry rice. That should be 15 pounds dry.

      I'd suggest adding some nuts to the fried rice, so it sticks to the ribs more.

      1 Reply
      1. re: greygarious

        so many people now have food issues, i wouldn't add nuts to this -- especially since traditionally it is nut-free.

      2. 20 cups dry is more than enough.

        Rice triples in volume. 1 cup generally equal 3 cups cooked.

        Factor in that you'll have other fixins in your fried rice (e.g. veggies, meat, eggs, etc.), you'll have plenty to go around and probably some leftovers with 20 cups of uncooked rice.

        1. If this is for thirty adults who have presumably been hiking or doing other camping activities all day, and it's the only food that will be served at the dinner, I would DEFINITELY err on the side of generosity with the portions. A regular chinese food container of rice is two cups of cooked rice - when I make fried rice for myself and Mr. Bionda I use two containers and we never have a problem finishing it, even as a side dish. What types of add-ins will you be using? Is there going to be a generous portion of meat, egg and vegetables added, or is it going to be mostly rice? If the recipe involves minimal other ingredients, I would go with 3 cups of cooked rice per person or 30 cups of dry.

          2 Replies
          1. re: biondanonima

            I would go with 3 cups of cooked rice per person or 30 cups of dry.

            1 cup of dry = 3 cups of cooked.

            1. re: ipsedixit

              Yes, exactly. 30 cups of dry = 90 cups of cooked or 3 cups of cooked per person for 30 people.

          2. " I'll have a nice camp kitchen available along with a small crew of 5 people to lend a hand. "
            Camp kitchens aren't all the same. Some are actually kitchens inside an enclosed building, others can be as crude as a few propane fired burners alongside folding tables.
            If you have a large flat iron grill you're in good shape. If you're going to be limited to large wok style pots over a propane burner it's an entirely different thing.
            I agree with the 3 cups of cooked rice per person plan. Some people don't even like rice in any form so you may have a few left overs. Pack a dozen bread rolls and some butter just in case.

            1. I'd suggest making sure the rice is properly cooked and then held at a safe temperature.

              Improperly handled cooked rice can give you a very nasty case of food poisoning.

              1. Thanks very much for the replies so far. All have been very helpful!

                Here's the details since you guys have been asking:

                I plan on preparing the main dish vegan and adding components to certain batches. The following veggies will in the base dish:

                yellow or white onion
                bean sprouts
                canned water chestnuts
                MAYBE mushrooms (since there are a fair amount of people who hate them)
                no nuts - can't risk allergic reactions where we'll be. it's remote.

                Vegans and vegetarians will be able to add chunks of fried tofu. Ovo-lacto vegetarians, and those with religious restrictions can add fried egg. Carnivores will get to add some BBQ pork that we are purchasing from KauKau in Seattle (which is commonly regarded as the best Chinese BBQ Pork in our city.)

                I'm still polling people on how many eat pork. Once I get that number I need to figure out how much pork to allow for each person. I'd like to allow generous portions of it since it's so ridiculously good, but I need to figure out the budget first.

                As for a kitchen set up we will have a 12' x 15' kitchen area (walled & covered) with a stainless steel sink, and several tables to prep. We will have lots of pots/pans and a grill to go on top of the (2) 2-burner stoves. It's a nice setup.

                Most of those camping are foodies and have a lot of experience feasting in the wilderness. We have strict rules we follow regarding protections against food borne illness. (I had the unfortunate experience of being served a camp feast served by some different folks who didn't know what they were doing. They managed to sicken about 45 people, myself included. Not pretty!)

                4 Replies
                1. re: peacockdreams

                  Do all the campers know ahead of time what the menu will be? I mention this because I see that while you are giving careful consideration to the needs of vegetarians, vegans, etc., if any of the campers happens to be diabetic, he or she will be in trouble. A dinner of fried rice, even with some egg and meat add-ins, would be a nightmare for my diabetic spouse. We'd have to leave.

                  1. re: bitchincook

                    Thanks for mentioning this. It's a good point. I have asked everyone to submit their allergies and special dietary needs. We have also posted the meal plan to all the attendees. So far no one has mentioned any concerns other than what I listed.

                    Because we are tasked with feeding so many people in a remote place, folks who have medical conditions and special dietary needs other than those mentioned have been asked to bring food for themselves. This is perhaps why I have not heard from anyone regarding diabetes. We only feed folks for breakfast and dinner. Lunches will not be provided so everyone is expected to have their own stash of food for lunch, snacks, and any meal they cannot or do not want to eat.

                  2. re: peacockdreams

                    Keep in mind when portioning tofu, eggs, and pork for each type of diet that these add-ins aren't exclusive of each other. As an omnivore, I would love to add pork, egg, AND tofu to my fried rice. So unless you clearly tell each guest to pick only one item, count on providing more tofu and egg than there are vegetarians.

                    1. re: seamunky

                      oh, absolutely!!! as an omnivore i plan on enjoying all of them! :D i wouldn't deny that to anybody else.