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What's fried rice to you?

Just bought a plate of fried rice and I got to wondering how many different kinds are represented on Chowhound. The one I just bought was cooked on a street cart in Beijing, with a good inch of oil in the bottom of the wok. It has finely chopped egg and carrot, shredded cabbage, cucumber, and scallion. Other seasonings are chili oil, soy sauce, salt, sugar, and some brown powder which I *think* is 5-spice. The whole thing ends up being a toasty brown-orange color and the flavor comes more from the wok hei and hot oil than from any of the ingredients.

Our family Taiwanese fried rice is very different because it's made in a skillet on a home stove. The rice is fried separately from the egg, carrot, scallions, peas, and char siu pork and everything is combined at the end so you get larger chunks of scrambled egg and more distinct ingredient flavors. Also we never use any seasonings but salt and pepper; soy sauce never touches it so stays pretty white.

So just for fun describe your typical fried rice and where it comes from.

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  1. Sorry to say this, but the Beijing street cart version of fried rice sounded disgusting. I usually liked all kinds of fried rice, and your family recipe sounded close to the Yangzhou fried rice which I absolutely adore.

    My personal fave recipe was from Thailand - the main ingredients are eggs, very fresh de-shelled shrimps, spring onions, shallots and fresh crabmeat (optional).
    First, you scramble-fry some eggs in vegetable oil in a hot skillet. Remove the eggs, then fry the shrimps before removing & setting aside for later. Add more oil to the skillet (to supplement the flavored/scented oil used earlier), then fry the rice. Season with salt & pepper - just like you, I NEVER add any soysauce. A bit of sugar is also added. Finally, add finely-chopped spring onions, and the cooked eggs & shrimps. Steamed de-shelled fresh crabmeat and be added lastly. A good fried rice, IMO, should never be oily, and should be fluffy, with a nice subtle fragrance.

    The Thais also use a similar recipe for fried rice with pork, where you subsititute the shrimps with thinly-sliced pork, and slices of fresh tomatoes to be fried with the rice,

    3 Replies
    1. re: klyeoh

      Yeah the street cart rice is not my favorite. They have good wok technique but the ingredients are sometimes... questionable.

      Your Thai version sounds pretty great. Can you share the Yangzhou recipe?

      1. re: RealMenJulienne

        The Yangzhou fried rtice recipe I used is almost exactly like your family Taiwanese family, except that I don't use carrots, and shrimps plus soysauce are also added.

        1. re: RealMenJulienne

          Yangzhou fried rice is the standard of all standard fried rice. Search it online and you will see. It is actually invented in Canton not Yangzhou.

      2. All that's technically needed for fried rice to be fried rice is...rice stir-fried in oil. The rest is just personal preference or ingredient availability for me.

        I almost always put these three ingredients in my fried rice: garlic, soy sauce, egg, ground white pepper, sesame oil, onion, at least one other vegetable, some sort of meat.

        Sometimes I splash a bit of shaoxing wine near the end along with the sesame oil. Gives it a nice depth of flavor. My mother likes splashing a bit of fish sauce at the end. Meat is basically anything I have available (including Spam), but I prefer chicken of any kind. Vegetables...peas are a favorite.

        Just a basic fried rice, not from any region of China, really. Very peasant-based, I guess you can say? In the sense that I'm usually just trying to use up a few ingredients/leftovers and not actively shopping and planning on making it most of the time.

        1. This may sound strange, but the best fried rice I have ever eaten was at a Chinese buffet on the outskirts of Pamplona in Spain.

          It was made with Spanish rice, Spanish ham, peas, carrots & onions all fried in good Spanish olive oil. It was so, so, so good. The best of 2 worlds. Once I discovered it I totally ignored the rest of the buffet and regretted all the other things I had already eaten because they left less room for the fried rice. I want to go back to Spain just to eat this again.

          7 Replies
            1. re: Ferdzy

              Eating at a Chinese buffet in Spain? I like your style.

              1. re: RealMenJulienne

                Sounds risky to me. The WORST Chinese food I have ever had in my entire life was in Liverpool, England. A much raved about (by the locals) Chinese restaurant where every vegetable was boiled for an hour before reaching your plate. Caveat emptor indeed!

                1. re: Caroline1

                  Couldn't have been as bad as the Chinee food I once had in Silver City, New Mexico. Boy, that was BAD.

                  1. re: Caroline1

                    Well, we were desperate. The Spanish are not great at serving green vegetables in restaurants, and so we thought, "Chinese food? The Chinese do green vegetables. We could get some!" But just as you found that the Liverpool restaurant had adapted their vegetable cookery to the local taste, so had the Pamplona restaurant adapted their cookery to the local taste. For example, they served zucchini but it had all been carefully peeled to be devoid of the slightest hint of green. Most of the buffet consisted of big heaps of nicely grilled pork products.

                    Later on in our trip we found a health food store and it had BROCCOLI! We took it back to the kitchen in our hostel, and when I pulled it out of the bag everyonr in the room inhaled... I thought for a moment I was going to be mugged for my broccoli, but then people remembered they were supposed to be pilgrims and decorum prevailed.

                    1. re: Ferdzy

                      Ha ha ha. That is a good story. I didn't know greens are not popular in Spanish restaurants.

                      1. re: Ferdzy

                        The food items from home that you can develop wild craving for while abroad can be puzzling and amazing. When I lived in Turkey, I developed a serious need for glazed donuts. When I lived in Greece, it was a cheapie Happy Meal McDonald's hamburger with the little diced onions. When I got back to the U.S. one glazed donut was the perfect cure. And I went to McDonald's and bought a BAG of those little burgers. Taking them home and freezing them was all I needed for that cure. Now I'm thinking if I ever go to Spain, a couple of small cans of spinach or green peas in the corner of my suitcase might not be a bad idea... '-)

                2. Your Taiwanese fried rice sounds close to what I like in an ideal fried rice: large chunks of vegetables, eggs and char siu and a balance between salty, smokey and sweet. Of course more typically I make Filipino fried rice by sauteeing leftover jasmine rice in hot oil with garlic and eggs, occassionally augmenting it with soy sauce, vegetables, scallions, leftover meat and sesame oil.

                  Your topic was also the source of much conversation earlier this year: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/7324...

                  1. I don't usually like restaurant fried rice- it's always too oily for me. I make it at home with leftover white or brown rice and a teaspoon or two of vegetable oil. I use frozen shelled edamame or peas, soy sauce, ginger, and garlic. Sometimes I add in shredded carrots or scallions.