what's the secret to making great fried rice
i love fried rice at thai and chinese restaurants, but can't seem to make it right at home -- either too mushy (too much moisture) or burned on the bottom (if not enough moisture). need help:
- anyone have a great fried rice recipe?
- what kind of wok should i buy? i currently have the thin carbon steel type that's clumsy for me (moves around too much if i don't hold it w/ one hand and bottom burns easily), so am considering purchasing le creuset cast iron or all-clad stainless w/ aluminum core. any thoughts?
the following ingredients produce good flavor (but if only i could get the moisture/texture right):
cold, at least day-old cooked rice
scrambled egg (or substitute)
shrimp, char siu (pork), chicken, or duck (or vegan substitute)
sugar snap or snow peas
chili pepper flakes
toss in at the end: chopped fresh green onion, cilantro, chives
Without a 140,000 BTU Commercial wok burner it will be difficult at best to make a great restaurant style fried rice. Home burners probably aren't heating up much more than 8 inches or so of the bottom of that wok and once you add any of the cold ingredients it takes far too long for the temperature to recover therefore leaving you with the texture you are not happy with.
I have had success (granted with small amounts/probably enough to feed four) by lighting a wood fire in my grill with coals deep enough to spread out and then cover 2/3 the surface area(of the bottom) of my wok. I'm guessing I can have hardwood charcoal surface temps of somewhere in the neighborhood of 700 degrees F. for around 10-15 minutes...it's a pain in the ass but it was as close to anything good as I was going to get without installing a commercial wok burner on my porch :) Which still hasn't been totally written out of the picture.
I have very good results with a big cast-iron skillet using the slightly oversize burner on my cheapo GE stove. I use, of course, the Joy of Cooking recipe. Plenty of peanut oil -- i use organic cold-pressed because when you open the bottle it makes the whole kitchen smell like roasted peanuts -- scramble the eggs hard first, then remove them and heat up the cold leftover rice, 50/50 brown and white, for about three minutes, stirring. Then add the eggs and maybe a little fresh ginger except the wife won't eat ginger, plus any neat or veg, then scallions in thin diagonal slices. A little soy sauce, and serve. Great every time.
Here are the ingredients to my mom's fried rice, which I think is better than any restaurant's. (also, she makes it in any kind of pan)
oil for the pan
day old rice
dark soy sauce for color
light soy sauce for flavor
chopped fresh green onions at the end.
You have most of the process just right. But if you are not using long grain rice then that may be a problem. Long grain rice is not sticky when cold and is the type used by the Chinese. Also you will need to cook small batches since you stove at home does not have same heat as Chinese restaurants.
Also you should get the wok really hot before adding the ingredients so that so the wok will not lose it as much heat during the cooking process. Use peanut oil since it has a higher temperature before it starts to smoke. Also expect for the rice the other ingredients could be at room temperature if not warmed.
Lastly if you have a gas burner on your stove that will help. Electric stoves in the most part are not good for stir frying.
To this non-asian cook, the essentials (in addition to yesterday's cooked rice) are: green peas, and raw carrot - diced approximately pea-sized; one or two eggs, each scrambled raw and quickly cooked like a crepe and rolled up for cutting into shreds; and of course green onion stirred in at the end.
I saute the carrot in a little oil and it ends up with a marvelous taste. Then add the peas for a quick stir. Remove and continue by sauteeing the meat. If I'm using leftover pork or chicken, I give the little pieces a quick bath of asian BBQ sauce (whatever I have) before sauteeing. Then I add more oil, dump in the rice and the peas and carrots and stir away. If it needs some moisture, I add it near the end. Can be gravy, broth, or some kind of soy-based dipping sauce. The egg and onion get stirred in at the end.
I think the peas and carrots are the best veggie option for fried rice. They are an appropriate size and shape, tasty, and they add a good color hit.
BTW, I have a flat-bottom wok since it's the only kind that works on electric burners.
For what it's worth, I get pretty good results making fried rice without a wok. I use a heavy, cast iron skillet, heated sizzling hot, with a coating of peanut oil in the bottom.
Your ingredients list sounds just right.