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Dec 3, 2004 08:01 AM

fried rice like a pro

  • y

I love Japanese t.v. This morning there was a 45 minute program dedicated to how to make fried rice like a professional. As there has been some postings recently about "chahan" (fried rice), I thought I would pass on the following helpful hints.

Use cold rice. A night in the fridge usually is sufficient.
Before you start cooking, break up the chilled rice with your chopsticks.
Using dried shiitake mushrooms that have been rehydrated will give you 10 more times umami (umami seibun) than fresh shiitake.
Combining the aforementioned shiitake with ham makes a dynamic combo and provides for even more umami.
The pro suggested using lard. However, suggested that you could use a combo of vegetable oil and butter in lieu. (I have tried lard but was disgusted by this coating in my mouth afterwards.)
Here was his KEY POINT. In a well greased hot wok, add your scrambled eggs and just as it has started to set (about half-way cooked) throw in your rice. The secret to good chahan is trying to cover each grain of rice with some of the scrambled egg. The end result was rice that was neither clumpy nor chewy, rather light and fluffy.
After mixing together the rice into the scrambled eggs, you can now add your remaining ingredients. Meat, vegies and seasoning.
He suggested salt, pepper, soy sauce and a bit of oyster sauce.
At the VERY END, add some minced green onions, for "kaori" or for the aroma.

Cheers and Happy Eating!

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  1. very helpful tips - thanks for the post!

    1. Thank you for these tips. What is umami?

      8 Replies
      1. re: Buttercup

        It's the "fifth" flavor. Your tongue has receptors for basic flavors - everything else is smell. So you basically can taste sweet, salt, sour, and bitter. There is a fifth taste that the Japanese have had in their vocabularly forever but has never been in ours, hence the use of the Japanese word, umami.

        It's often translated as savory. It has to do with glutamate receptors - so MSG (which occurs naturally in many foods) is a prime example. It's a mouth-filling sensation - the richness or fullness of a broth, for example.

        The Japanese feel that this is a totally separate taste experience from the other 4 basic tastes, and deserves its own word. It's somewhat controversial, but accepted more and more. In fact, physiologically, there are other receptor combinations in our tongues, as well, including "metallic" and "soapy" - but these aren't typically found in food.

        1. re: applehome
          Yukari Pratt

          I am still trying to sort it out. However, "umami seibun" is something that can actually be measured. Parmsesan, tomatoes and konbu (a type of seaweed) are rich in umami.

          Just read recently about a 6th, "kokumi", and that is an even bigger mystery.


          1. re: Yukari Pratt

            Yukari-san, I remember a phrase about umami from my childhood, but don't remember it in Japanese, only in English translation - it says something about your "cheeks falling off". Do you know what this refers to in Japanese?

            Your chahan sounds good - I learned a long time ago that the egg and butter were critical.

            1. re: applehome
              Yukari Pratt

              will check with my gourmet friend. He always makes that action, where he puts his hand up to his cheek and dramatizes it falling off. This must be it...

              1. re: applehome
                Yukari Pratt

                "Hoppe ga ochiru" I believe is the expression. Your cheeks fall off...

            2. re: applehome

              A long time ago I lived in Korea for a couple of years. I seem to remember that at a "formal" meal there were supposed to be 7 flavors on the table. Just can't seem to remember what they were. Any comments? Is this a different topic?

              1. re: KaimukiMan

                In Korea the five basic tastes hot(spicy), sour, sweet, bitter, and salty had the two temperature sensations added, Hot and cold, giving seven "sensations"

          2. Thanks for sharing. Just made some for lunch, it was delicious, now I know what I have been doing wrong.

            BTW, I think my mom watches that show.

            1 Reply
            1. re: Jen in MP
              Yukari Pratt

              Glad to hear that, this is what this website is all about! The program is on NHK weekday mornings, after the news, around 8:30 a.m.

              Happy Eating!

            2. I think this recipe/method is particular to Japanese style fried rice. The best versions of fried rice I've had from Cantonese restaurants is made differently. First off, they use hot or warm rice that's been coated with egg, or egg yolk. The best fried rice I've had was coated with the egg yolk, and the egg whites were scrambled in the fried rice. I really love dried scallops as an ingredient in fried rice. Also love crab meat. A little XO sauce goes a long way to give fried rice a nice flavor. The scallions at the end is great, but I've also had versions that was sprinkled with fried garlic that was awesome.

              1. c
                Carolyn Blount Brodersen

                Excellent suggestions--thank you! With chahan, there are as many ways to make it as there are cooks with a love for fried rice. It's like stew--everyone has a style. For me, after living five years in Japan, I fell in love with the flavor of chahan that has grated ginger (about a teaspoon) added at the last minute. Also, I was taught to fry the egg(s) lightly in toasted sesame oil (sesame oil gives it that unique Japanese flavor) AND THEN REMOVE IT from the pan--that way it doesn't coat the rice grains.

                Fry up the onions first (green onions are delightful in this)--so that they will get a bit soft, adding ham and/or shrimp. Stir fry the veggies (especially peas) till softened slightly and then add in the cold rice--adding sesame oil as needed (go easy--it's rich) . THEN--toss in a couple of tablespoons of soy sauce. Add back in the scrambled eggs, using chopsticks to separate the little egg bits so that they don't clump together and get evenly distributed. Add pepper to taste and LASTLY--that grated ginger--so that it doesn't cook much. My chahan cooked in this way gets RAVE REVIEWS from all. The sesame oil and the ginger are the two secrets that no one would guess! Enjoy! \(*o*)/