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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.