Kitchen Humanities: Vegetable Fried Rice

China and Rice


In this 7th grade humanities lesson, students make Vegetable Fried Rice and connect the surplus of rice during the Song Dynasty to the advancement of Chinese culture.


After this lesson, students will be able to:

  • Connect technological and agricultural advances that lead to the surplus of rice in China, which in turn led to the emergence of art, literature and ideas during the Song dynasty
  • Make connections between the diets of historic cultures and the foods we eat today
  • Cut vegetables at an angle


During this lesson, students will:

  • Accurately name a technological or agricultural development that led to the surplus of rice during the Song Dynasty
  • Recognize rice as a staple crop of the Song Dynasty
  • Cut vegetables in uniform sizes and at an angle


For the Chef Meeting

  • Vegetable Fried Rice recipe
  • Ingredients and tools for demonstration
  • Visual aid


  • Olive oil
  • Garlic
  • Fresh ginger
  • Seasonal vegetables
  • Rice
  • Sesame oil
  • Eggs
  • Soy sauce
  • Salt
  • Pepper


  • Crinkle cutter
  • Wooden spatulas
  • Chef knives
  • Paring knives
  • Cutting boards
  • Measuring cups
  • Measuring spoons
  • Mixing bowls
  • Wok


  • Stove

Before You Begin

  • Collect all the ingredients and tools, and then distribute them to the tables
  • Gather supplies for the Chef Meeting
  • Create the visual aid
  • Copy the Vegetable Fried Rice recipe to hand out
  • Cook and chill the rice


At the Chef Meeting

  1. Welcome students and introduce the Vegetable Fried Rice recipe.
  2. Explain how advances in technology (the chain pump, the harrow) and agriculture (quick-growing rice) combined to create a surplus of rice during the Song Dynasty.
  3. Ask students to define the term surplus.
  4.  Describe how the surplus of rice led to a population increase, along with the emergence of trade, commerce, urbanization, and leisure time. All these things, in turn led to the advancement of Chinese Culture.
  5. Define culture and invite students to share their “personal culture of one” by citing examples of how they spend their free time and money.
  6. Ask students to wash their hands and join their table group.

At the Table

  1. Meet with the table groups to introduce the ingredients, review the recipe and assign jobs.
  2. Demonstrate how to cut vegetables at an angle and explain to students that we are cutting the vegetables at an angle to make it easier to pick up with chopsticks.
  3. Prepare the recipe and set the table (provide chopsticks for students who want to use them).
  4. Eat.
  5. Clean up.

At the Closing Circle

Ask students to name a technological or agricultural advancement that led to the surplus of rice during the Song Dynasty.





Download: China Rice Visual Aid

Download: Vegetable Fried Rice Recipe

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