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How does one make really good fried rice?

  • f

I miss authentic chinese food but have access to a chinese grocery. Any hints on how to recreate a good fried rice?

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  1. Ah, you asked my favorite question. The #1 rule is to start with good rice that's been chilled. You can't make fried rice with warm rice. Other than that, the steps are as follows, cut and pasted from my website:

    Fried rice is the default dish we make when we have cold rice, eggs, onions, and some other things to get rid of. Don't try it without those three ingredients, though, because they are key. Below is what I made with roughly three cups of cooked rice, one cup of vegetables, and four eggs. You can decide what ratio you like, or just use whatever you have on hand. Remember to salt at each step, not all at the end.

    Step 1: scramble the eggs until they are fluffy but still quite runny. Remember to salt the eggs. Set aside and get your wok to hot hot hot!

    Step 2: stir fry diced onions, carrots, peas, and whatever other vegetables you're using. Remember to add a pinch of salt.

    Step 3: when the vegetables are soft, throw in any meat you want. I usually have some Chinese sausage in the freezer, but Chinese BBQ, ham, Spam, cooked fish, ground meat, and shredded meat all work. You shouldn't need more salt at this point.

    Step 4: add in cold rice. You'll want to use wet fingers to break up all the rice before you do this, so that you can just pour the cold loose rice into the wok. Toss the rice with the vegetables so that all the rice is evenly coated in oil. Sprinkle in about a teaspoon of soy sauce and toss immediately so that the soy sauce evenly coats the rice. If a little rice sticks to the bottom, don't stress it. After you turn off your stove and leave it awhile, the rice will loosen up. It might or might not be a be a bit crunchy, which I actually like.

    Taste, and adjust for seasoning. At this point I usually add salt and not soy sauce, because I don't like my rice to get very dark (it's ugly!). A dash of hondashi is nice if you have fish in your fried rice, and a drizzle of sesame oil is always nice.

    photos: http://www.chezpei.com/2006/04/turkey...

    9 Replies
    1. re: Pei

      If you DO happen to like your fried rice bronze colored (more New York style) (I think the fried rice looks a little pallid here in SF!) I add Soy Sauce Paste which is a thick soy sauce...I have a bottle of it here..brand is Tah An Kong Yen Food from Taiwan...

      1. re: ChowFun_derek

        Dark soy sauce in fried rice!...no no no no. The best is made without any soy. Maybe just a touch of shrimp paste when the wok is hot.

        1. re: PBSF

          Not dark soy sauce, Soy Sauce Paste...don't know if it added more flavor or more color...a little dab'll do ya! and It's definitely NOT a no no if you grew up in the NY area... fried rice had a lovely mahogany hue and had a deeper (richer?) flavor than the fried rice out here...I enjoy the fried rice in SF only if there is a DISTINCT "Flavor of the Wok" (Wok Hai).....childhood flavor memories are hard to break, or replicate!

          1. re: ChowFun_derek

            Try a little shrimp paste. It will give you plenty of wok hay and great depth of flavor. You will never go back to soy sauce paste again. Is Soy Sauce Paste the same as Indonesian sweet soy, kecap manis?

            1. re: PBSF

              hahaha cold rice is not must. my mom cooks with warm rice and it comes out perfect. it is matter of quality of rice. so yeah, if you are using japonica rice that is not good quality or cooked right, it will be all mushy when you cook it. If that is the case, cook rice little bit undone than you normally would. Soy sauce, is big no no??? you don't even know!! just pour little bit from the side and it gives nice flavor. Don't use too much of it tho.

          2. re: PBSF

            PBSF, do you add this paste to some hot oil in the pan?

          3. re: ChowFun_derek

            do not ONLY add just shoyu (soy sauce for you "mainland" guys...)..... you can also add a little oyster sauce to taste. my mother taught me this, and fried rice comes out DELICIOUS with a bit of oyster sauce. don't get heavy handed though - you do not want mushy or overly salty fried rice... taste as you go.

            i also recommend Wadakan shoyu - its tasty, and its REAL, not like La Choy... stay away from that La Choy stuff - its chemically made shoyu = gross.

          4. re: Pei

            Did you mean to add the eggs back into the rice at some point?

            1. re: Pei

              +1 on cold rice. I cook my rice the day before I make fried rice and let it chill overnight. I take it out of the fridge and break it up before adding to Tananarive incredibly hot pan/wok.. Make sure all meat, eggs, etc are cooked before you put the rice in the pan/wok. Add soy in small batches until it reaches your optimum flavor..you can always add but not remove. At touch of sugar adds dimension to the flavor.

            2. Cold rice is an absolute must. Warm rice will get mushy and sticky.

              3 Replies
              1. re: Candy

                Long grain rice is much much better to use than short grain.

                1. re: Offal Lover

                  well i grew up eating short grain rice and would much prefer short grain to long grain in my fried rice. i agree that it must be cold.

                  also i've never used regular onions, but green onions are very good in fried rice.

                  i saw an episode of yan can cook once where he used egg not to scramble, but instead to lightly coat all the rice grains. the fried rice ended up yellow. it looked interesting but it didn't come out as good when i tried it.

                  1. re: cornflower55

                    +1 on green onions. I add a full bunch.

              2. Yep, cold (typically leftover) rice, and a crazyhot wok. Ingredients to your liking.

                3 Replies
                1. re: ricepad

                  Crazyhot wok is most important. You may want to even do the rice in batches. Your home range will probably not have enough btu's to generate the "wok hei" found at restaurants.

                  1. re: KTinNYC

                    Actually our new apartment's electric stove is DANGED hot.

                    This, and the use of a cast iron pan, instead of a wok, has been making the tastiest fried rice from an electric cooktop I've ever had.

                    1. re: SizzlingJoe

                      Wow! An apartment stove that cranks?! Nice. You certainly live in a better place than I do. What brand is the stove?

                2. I use a method similar to the one posted above, but I partially cook the beaten eggs before adding the rice to the wok.

                  1. A nice flavor combo for flesh-based condiments, as it were, is chopped Chinese sausage and dried scallops (both should be available at a Chinese market).

                    3 Replies
                    1. re: Karl S

                      Do you rehydrate them before adding?

                      1. re: Sharuf

                        Bring 1 cup water to a boil in a 1-quart heavy saucepan and add dried scallops (scallops should be completely submerged). Remove from heat and soak 15 minutes. Return pan to heat and simmer over low heat until scallops are soft and pale, about 15 minutes, then remove from heat and cool in cooking liquid. Transfer scallops to a bowl with a slotted spoon (you can reserve the cooking liquid for later use as a flavoring broth). Shred scallops into "threads" with a fork or your fingers, discarding abductor muscle (abductor will remain solid but scallop meat shreds easily).

                        1. re: Karl S

                          Dried scallops...this makes an expensive and classy fried rice.

                    2. OK, this is my (Chinese) mother's "famous" fried rice. Seriously. Growing up, all our friends wanted it. Then their parents wanted it. It's the first dish all three of us kids learned to make (heck, I got a Girl Scout badge from it). Now all of our spouses (and my niece and nephew) request it regularly. It's very simple, but the end result is so much better than anything I've ever had at a restaurant.


                      - green onions (1 - 2 bunches, depending on how much rice you have)
                      - 3 to 4 eggs, lightly beaten
                      - bacon (yep, bacon!), chopped and cooked
                      - rice (cold, as all the other hounds mention)
                      - soy sauce

                      Chop up the green onions, separating the whites from the rest. Heat oil in a large wok/pan. When very hot, add the whites from the green onions (as far as I can tell, this is the key to the dish). Stir fry for a minute, then add rice, breaking up the clumps as needed. Add soy to taste. Stir fry for a couple of minutes until the soy gets absorbed and the rice looks dry again. Move the rice to the sides of the wok/pan. Add the eggs to the pan and lightly scramble. At this point you can choose to cook the eggs completely so that there are visible chunks of eggs in the final product, or you can move the rice back into the cooking area and mix it into the eggs (this latter technique is good for kids who don't like eggs). After the eggs are cooked, add the rest of the chopped green onions and bacon in and stir fry until heated through.

                      The bacon adds enough salt that you don't need a ton of soy sauce. Or you can use low-sodium soy instead.

                      Of course, you can totally play with the ingredients, as long as you start with the whites of the green onions in the oil. I've made it with leftover pork and even hot italian sausage to great success. I definitely add extra veggies when this is a one-dish meal -- bean sprouts, asparagus, broccoli, etc.

                      If you try and like it, tell 'em it's Betty's recipe. :)

                      1. thanks all. i will definitely try the cold rice, cooking the egg separately and bacon.
                        it's amazing how bacon can be substituted for all manner of other pork products!

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: fara

                          If your Chinese grocery has char siu (barbecued pork) try this instead of the bacon. It has such wonderful flavor.

                        2. I agree with cooking with cold, longer grain rice. Flavor with what you like. And if you want to go old school... dare I say use MSG. Oh will the replies start coming now!

                          I don't typically use it. But I do have to keep a jar of the stuff in my pantry for my aunt when she visits and cooks. And she always says, 'just a little for flavor'.

                          1. Good thread. I've always wanted to know as well.


                            1. Great thread, I agree; this dish qualifies for a VERY cheap meal, too...a little bacon goes a long way in so many dishes where it's used mostly for flavor rather than a main ingredient.

                              1. besides chilled rice, eggs, and green onions the other secret is a high btu.

                                the hotter the better, fried rice no matter how well the intentions are just doesn't come out correct on electric coils.

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: wchane

                                  Couldn't agree more.

                                  Two keys to good fried rice: (1) cold rice and a (2) hot wok.

                                2. I love this Kylie Kwong recipe, and the chiding you get at the beginning not to throw in everything but the kitchen sink.
                                  I skip the Maggi Seasoning and S & P to taste.

                                  Agree with everyone - day old cold rice and a hot hot wok

                                  Delicious fried rice

                                  Fried rice is one of those lovely comforting foods that everyone in the world seems to like — no one is intimidated by fried rice. Somehow all these rogue ingredients have crept into restaurant versions over the years, such as corn, peas, ham and the like. I find the trick with fried rice is to keep it really simple and traditional — just some really fresh and fluffy eggs, onion, bacon or Chinese sausage, ginger and some spring onions.

                                  Serves: supper for 2-4; part of a banquet for 6

                                  1/3 cup peanut oil
                                  4 large free-range eggs, beaten
                                  1 tablespoon peanut oil, extra
                                  11/2 tablespoons finely chopped ginger
                                  4 garlic cloves, diced
                                  1 medium-sized brown onion, finely diced
                                  1/2 cup roughly chopped rindless bacon rashers or Chinese sausage
                                  1 teaspoon white sugar
                                  2 tablespoons Shao Hsing wine
                                  5 cups cooked medium-grain white rice
                                  1 tablespoon oyster sauce
                                  1 cup finely sliced spring onions (scallions)
                                  3 teaspoons Maggi seasoning
                                  1/4 teaspoon sesame oil
                                  2 spring onions (scallions), finely sliced on the diagonal
                                  1/4 cup light soy sauce
                                  1/2 large red chilli, finely sliced on the diagonal

                                  Heat oil in a hot wok until the surface seems to shimmer slightly. Pour beaten eggs into wok and cook for about 1 minute, lightly scrambling them and rotating the wok to ensure even cooking. When almost cooked through, carefully remove omelette from wok with a fish slice and drain on kitchen paper. Set aside.

                                  Wipe out wok with kitchen paper, add extra oil and stir-fry ginger and garlic for 1 minute, or until very aromatic. Add onion and stir-fry for 2 minutes, or until lightly browned and tender. Add bacon and stir-fry for a further minute, or until lightly browned. Stir in sugar and wine, then stir-fry for 30 seconds.

                                  Finally, add rice, reserved omelette, oyster sauce, spring onions, Maggi seasoning and sesame oil. Stir-fry for 3 minutes, or until rice is heated through. Roughly chop omelette into smaller pieces as you stir.

                                  Divide rice between individual bowls and garnish with extra spring onions. Combine soy sauce and chilli in a small bowl and serve on the side.

                                  1. I don't know how authentic it is (I don't actually care either) but America's Test Kitchen version of fried rice has been our favorite way to make fried rice at home for a lot of years now.


                                    1. As you've probably realized from the plethora of answers here, "really good fried rice" is a personal thing. You're not going to get any answer that suits you until you find what defines YOUR "really good fried rice". And that may take many experimentations, but I bet they'll all be delicious. :)

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: Breezychow

                                        Yeah, BC, it's a matter of preference -just like everything else. But how would I know unless I ask what others consider good?

                                      2. The rule I learned is "hot pan, cold oil" and then "hot oil, cold rice." In other words, get your pan really hot and then add oil. Once the oil is heated, add the rice. I don't have a wok, but getting a seasoned cast-iron skillet made a HUGE difference in the quality of my fried rice. After the rice has been cooking for a minute or two, I add carrots, peas and green onions, plus a bunch of soy sauce. After it's off the heat I finish it with a bit of sesame oil, and some salt to taste.

                                        1 Reply
                                        1. re: GEC

                                          No kidding! I will have to try that technique! I always put the oil in first. Thank you GEC!

                                        2. IMO, what FR needs to look and taste right - and is frequently missing - is peas and carrots. Dice raw carrots into the same size and quantity as the peas. Stir-fry carrots in a little oil until done. They will have a wonderful flavor and add a necessary hit of color, along with their companion peas, to the fried rice.