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fried rice like a pro

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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*)/

                1. I'd like to duplicate as close as possible to the fried brown rice with shitake mushrooms I sampled at Trader Joe's (and which they sell in a vacuum sealed package mixed with other flavors and ingredients such as soy sauce, soybean oil, sesame oil, and onions).
                  The rice was short grain brown rice.

                  I quality of the oils used was unknown and I'd like to make this on my own. Using dried shitake was something I hadn't thought of - the package of shitake sold at Trader Joe's was just too much for my initial use. Buying dried would allow me to rehydrate only as much as I needed initially and save the rest for later.

                  I wanted to use brown basmati rice. Your suggestion was to cook it first, then chill it overnight. Not having done this before, my guess is that after finely dicing some onions, and rehydrating a small amount of shitake mushrooms, to add them to heated sesame oil in a wok, and then add the basmati rice, stir for a minute, then add some tamari.

                  I would use this with Trader Joe's "Tuna in a Green Curry Sauce", so I don't think adding sugar or more salt would be necessary.

                  Am I leaving anything out here? (The package of brown rice at Trader Joe's just said soybean oil and sesame oil. It was made in China. Do you think the reference to sesame oil referred to toasted sesame oil? I rarely use that, and wonder if that added ingredient gave the dish its special very pleasant flavor. I know that the taste of shitake mushrooms was present. The rice package wasn't cheap considering that one could make it from scratch probably for half the cost, but the convenience factor might make it worth the purchase. The packaging doesn't allow the user to just take out a small amount per use - it's all or nothing, cook, and then refrigerate the unused portion for later.)

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: FelafelBoy

                    As far as Japanese Chahan goes, standard white short/medium grain Japanese rice (Japonica), is used. Basmati is a long grain rice that has a distinct flavor and is not nearly as starchy as Japonica. The egg, and how it coats the rice, is really key to a good chahan. Without any egg and with Basmati, yours will certainly be different from the Chahan that is typically served in Japanese homes and Izakaya's (Chahan or Ramen typically wind up a night of hard drinking and eating at an Izakaya).

                    But it's been a few weeks since your post (a few years since the original) - how did it go?

                  2. Wonderful-Thanks for posting I am trying tomorrrow!
                    Never used butter before but will give your're directions a try. You're so right, rehydrated shitakes are the way to go they do lend a bit of smokiness to the rice.
                    Scallions absolutely.

                    1. The stew analogy is good--everyone makes it differently.

                      I make it Thai-style with crab paste and cold leftover jasmine rice, plus eggs, some chopped seafood, fish sauce, palm sugar, lime juice, and lots of sliced green onions thrown in just after the heat is off. If I've remembered to chop bird peppers and let them sit in fish sauce for an hour or so, it gets spooned over liberally on my plate.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: Louise

                        like stew.... whatever is leftover in the refrigerator animal or vegetable

                      2. 31 weeks later, a few comments:

                        1) Long grain rice gets pretty hard when refrigerated due to its higher level of amylose. It will soften when reheated, but will need to absorb some moisture doing so.
                        2) I use butter and/or toasted sesame oil -- I also do not like lard.
                        3) The Japanese chef I trained under added a little cumin at the end -- I don't think it's Japanese, but it's delicious.
                        4) You can add lightness and a toasty flavor by "pan-roasting" the dry rice until hot and adding it to boiling water or stock. It will foam up so make sure the pot is deep enough.
                        5) Another way to add egg is to cook very thin omlettes, then roll them up and slice thinly. (Like a chiffonade.)
                        6) To add heat use whatever you like -- thai chili paste, Sriracha, etc.
                        7) Add any soy sauce at the very end -- toss quickly and plate. I often chiffonade a little shiso leaf and mix in as well.
                        8) Sprinkling on toasted sesame seeds before serving is great.

                        1. I like to fry my rice first, then make a well in the center for the beaten egg. As the egg begins to set, I stir in larger circles, blending and coating the rice surrounding the egg as I go.

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: BarbDwyer

                            I like the rice itself pretty well fried (browned), for me the egg is about the last thing I put in - after the meat and vegetables (which often go in frozen straight from the bag - gasp) I will have to try the well technique. Usually I pour the scrambled egg over the top of the rice and as it starts to cook stir it into the rice mixture underneath. After that it is just the shoyu and maybe some pepper or other spices if it doesn't have the right aroma. Not an authentic technique I'm sure.

                            Is there a differnce between how Japanese, Chinese, Korean or others prepare fried rice. Always seemed to me Chinese was more fried, Japanese less so.

                            1. re: KaimukiMan

                              A pretty common method for Korean fried rice
                              Break up the cold rice as described.
                              Preheat wok/stir fry pan, using a sesame/soy blended cooking oil.
                              Add your meat (not seafood) ingredients first, stir fry until lightly browned.
                              Add chopped or diced vegetable ingredients, stir fry for two to three minutes.
                              If using seafood add after veggies and stir fry for one minute.
                              Add rice and seasonings, (not soy sauce), and stir fry for about two to three minutes.
                              Scoot rice to the side and crack egg into the empty side, crack the yolk and stir two or three times, spreading streamers of yolk throughout the white. Rock the pan slightly to thin and spread the egg over the empty side.
                              When the egg has nearly cooked through (less than a minute) bring the rice back over the egg, add the soy sauce, and stir fry about four more minutes.