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Dec 8, 2011 09:09 PM

Fried Rice Question (moved from L.A. board)

I prefer fried rice when it's pretty white looking. There's a place on Pico called Century Dragon that does it perfectly. (I'm not crazy about their other offerings.)

I also cook fried rice at home with some regularity. But, I can never get the white kind right. This has been stifling me for years. I'm hoping someone here might be able to answer my question.

When fried rice is white like at Century Dragon... where is the flavor coming from? Is it broth plus salt? Is there chicken powder?

I'm not asking about Japanese fried rice, though I'd love how that's done also. I'm talking about plain ol' Chinese fried rice. It's generally either brown, from soy... or pretty white. How is the white rice done?

If anyone knows with certainty, I'll be most grateful. Thanks!

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  1. I just use salt. You want to make sure it's evenly mixed in, so stir it around a lot.

    11 Replies
    1. re: Pandora

      Hey Pandora,

      Thanks for your response. What do you do for moisture... just water? Also, is this what's called Yangzhou fried rice? Thanks.

      1. re: mikeinla10

        I actually don't use anything for moisture....I've always understood that you want your rice and wok to be pretty dry in fact. So I have always used dried out day old rice right from the refrigerator. That way it won't clump and will come apart in fluffy bits. The only moisture is from oil and I tend not to use much, just enough so it won't stick to the wok. I'll stir fry the rice alone for awhile to warm it up and make sure the kernels are completely separated and then add in salt. Then scrambled eggs, green onions and other ingredients.

        Not sure about the Yang Chow fried rice thing...I think the BBQ pork makes rice Yang Chow style, but I am not really an authority on that. Fried rice for me is something to do with leftovers for lunch and not a dish that you would have at dinner or anything.

        1. re: Pandora

          Hey Pandora,

          Thanks again.

          Hmmm... I wonder if the problem is that I'm not doing dry enough rice. What I'll do is prepare rice in a cooker with very little water. But then, when I go to fry it, it definitely sticks to the pan and I have to start using water, broth, or soy to prevent sticking. I guess it could be the pan I use, but I think it's more likely the moisture.

          I'll try what you're saying. Dumb question: How do you dry the rice? Do you leave it out for awhile and <i>then</i> throw it into the frig?


          1. re: mikeinla10

            "What I'll do is prepare rice in a cooker with very little water"

            That certainly help.

            "But then, when I go to fry it, it definitely sticks to the pan and I have to start using water, broth, or soy to prevent sticking"

            That is not the proper way to do fried rice. This is one of the major problems of people using the wrong tools for the wrong food. For fried rice, you should use either a carbon steel wok or a thin cast iron wok..... maybe a nonstick wok if you lower your expectation, but definitely do not use stainless steel surface wok or aluminum surface wok... You won't able to do it, and you will be stuck in your situation of adding water to the fried rice, which I am sure is not really how it should be done.

            1. re: mikeinla10

              Make sure you are using long grain rice for Chinese fried rice. Wash the rice until the water is clear to get rid of excess starch before cooking it. Then cook it and put it in the fridge. You must use day old rice to make fried rice.

              When frying, you might need more oil than you think you do, and get it hot. Keep moving the rice around nonstop in the wok when frying it. It helps if you have a wok spatula/ladle in each hand if your wok is stable enough.

              1. re: mikeinla10

                Rice, even washed long grain, has enough starch to stick unless -
                you use a well seasoned steel wok or a nonstick pan. Lots of oil, and very hot wok may compensate for less than perfect seasoning.

                1. re: paulj

                  Yep, the wok and high heat are key. This is why it's almost impossible to cook restaurant style Chinese food using typical home burners.

                  1. re: paulj

                    zfalcon and Paulj,

                    We probably should tell the original poster how much oil he needs. I think "lots of oil" sounds scary. This is about how much I use. For rice which is cooked from 1 cup of raw rice (2 cup of cooked rice?), I use about 5 tablespoons of oil -- I think. Oh yes, I stir fried in two batches. A common mistake is that people try to stir fried too much rice in one shot. Not a good idea.

                  2. re: mikeinla10

                    I prepare the rice mine usual way, and eat it with dinner. I put it In the fridge after dinner overnight. I don't think it matters hugely whether it sits out for a while before sitting in the fridge. I will only make fried rice after the rice has been in the fridge overnight. It needs to be hard.

                    I don't think I use as much oil as the rest of the posters do, but I will add if it seems to be sticking. And I do make sure the pan is well coated - maybe 2-3 Tablespoons?

                    And I do scramble the egg first, although I take it out and then cook the rice. When the rice is ready, after it has gotten salted a but, I'll put the egg back in.

                    I sometimes put a touch of soy sauce, but never enough for the color to get dark. If you use soy sauce, it's important to make sure it is fully incorporated color-wise. You don't want bits stained or spotty.

                    1. re: Pandora

                      One of the Iron Chefs (Japan) coats the rice with egg before cooking.

                      1. re: Pandora

                        "maybe 2-3 Tablespoons"

                        Yes, 2-3 tablespoons for how much rice though? For 1 cup of cooked rice or 3 cups?

                        In my case, I usually use about 4-5 tablespoons of oil for two batches of rice. I have to stir fry it in two batches or there will be (a) overwhelm the heat source and (b) difficult to toss in a wok.

              2. Ok, half of the Chinese fried rice recipes do not use soy sauce. Some do, but many do not. I have never been to that LA restaurants, but can you tell us what fried rice are we talking about? Salted fish and chick fried rice? Yang Zhou fried rice? I am pretty sure that the fried rice you are talking about did not include soy sauce.

                Most for your question about broth, most Chinese fried rice does not rely on broth. The only exception is "raw fried raw fried glutinous rice" or better known as "stir fried raw fried glutinous rice", but many people do not count it as fried rice.

                Salt is almost always a must.

                In term of favor, the basic fried rice flavor comes from salt, egg, and green onion. The egg favor is infused in the fried rice by stir fried the egg AHEAD of the rice. This a major difference compared to the typical Japanese fried rice.

                Here is a video and you can see the order of ingredients going into the wok: egg has to go in early. It is important to move the rice fast to avoid the rice sticking to each other and the wok, also it is necessary to produce fluffy fried rice (the oppose of rice sticking together):


                3 Replies
                1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                  I read someplace that if you want the dark color favored by some Americans, you need to use a thicker sauce like oyster sauce. Trying to get the color with just soy sauce makes the rice too salty and wet.

                  On the other hand if you don't want it dark, remember that soy sauce mainly provides salt and umami. So plain salt, and a pinch of MSG (or a mushroom based alternative) will go long way towards giving you the same flavor.

                  1. re: paulj

                    Oh, if you actually want the dark color fried rice, then yes, it is probably better to use the dark soy sauce. Oyster sauce is actually not as dark as the dark soy sauce. When I make my Chinese BBQ pork bun.


                    I have to be more concern about how much soy sauce I add because even a small amount can over darken my BBQ pork making less red. I don't worry about oyster sauce because it is actually pretty light in color.

                  2. re: Chemicalkinetics

                    Here is Chen Kenichi with his famous last-5-minutes fried rice
                    Battle spinach part 4, starting at 2 min mark.

                  3. Salt, scrambled eggs, scallions, cubed veggies (optional), and salt and pepper to taste. Hot wok and generous amounts of hot oil.

                    That's all you need.

                    1. Thank you everyone so much for your responses. I think I see now how much of a role the egg plays in the flavor. I've been frying that up first, setting it aside, and then bringing it back at the end. Now I know that it should flavor the rice from the getgo.

                      I'm still a little confused and curious though. In the video that was linked to by ChemKinetics, you'll notice that a liquid is added around the 2:40 mark. Does anyone have a guess as to what that would be? Water? Soy? Broth?

                      What do you guys think the liquid is? It looks clear.


                      (And by the way, I have been using plenty of oil so that hasn't been the problem.)

                      5 Replies
                        1. re: mikeinla10

                          "What do you guys think the liquid is? It looks clear."

                          Paul is probably correct. There are two possible things to add at that point. One is sesame oil, and the other is rice wine. I am actually guessing it is rice wine just because it seems he poured a lot of liquid out, and it would be too much for sesame oil, but I cannot be sure.

                          It is unlikely to be water or soy sauce at that point.

                          "(And by the way, I have been using plenty of oil so that hasn't been the problem.)"

                          But I thought you said that the rice stick to your cookware? What do you mean by "that" hasn't been the problem?

                          1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                            Hey Chem,

                            A lot of the advice on here was along the lines of, "Be sure to use a lot of oil." I do that, but there's still some sticking. I think it's because my rice has moisture. It could be the pan I'm using also. I think I'm going to get one of those black, steel woks.

                            1. re: mikeinla10

                              Best way to get dry rice for making fried rice is to leave the rice in the fridge overnight.

                              1. re: mikeinla10

                                "I think it's because my rice has moisture. It could be the pan I'm using also. I think I'm going to get one of those black, steel woks."

                                The water definitely can be the problem, but my guess is that your cookware is the bigger problem -- based on the little things you have hinted. What is your cookware, may I ask? Yes, a black steel wok is a good idea. You should know however that carbon steel woks are often shiny sliver color when new. It is only after usage that they turn into black color.