The perfect fried rice?
I've tried and tried to make 'perfect' fried rice only to be disappointed. What is 'perfect'? Light fluffy not mushy slightly browned (not by using soy sauce). It always seems to stick to the fry pan. I've used day old refrigerated rice put into a hot pan. Is the trick to add cold oil to the pan at the same time as the cold rice or should I heat the oil until it's "smoking hot" then add the cold rice. Should the rice be at room temperature first. I'm assuming people making fried rice in China for centuries didn't have fridges so the precooked rice from the day before or whenever had to be room temperature. I'm missing something pretty basic. Company is coming and they want 'stir fry'. Any basic advice is greatly appreciated.
This is my method, which mainly aims to reduce (not eliminate, just reduce!) the amount of oil used. I dislike greasy fried rice.
In a nonstick pan pan heated to medium, I add whatever vegetables I am using in a stepwise process (e.g. longer-cooking ones 1st, shorter-cooking ones later- all except the scallions) with a thin slick of neutral-tasting oil, and depending on the degree of cooking needed, and bit of water and/or intermittent use of a lid to steam through the vegetables. Apologies for the vagueness, but the main thing is that I get them about 75% to crisp-tender (I like vegetables crisp-tender vegetables in my end-product fried rice.)
Next, I will add cold, de-clumped leftover cooked rice (usually jasmine or basmati) over the mostly-cooked vegetables, and drizzle over some soy sauce. Next, I'll all my sliced scallions (and any pre-cooked vegetables/meat I might have had), drizzle over some dark sesame oil, and then toss everything so it is uniformly distributed. Finally, I will make a "hole" in the center of the rice in the pan, crack in an egg, scramble it in that center well, and then fold the just-cooked egg curds through the rice (which has now just barely caramelized as it's been sitting undisturbed in the pan while the egg has been cooked...the vegetables should ahve cooked the other 25% to desired doneness at this point as well.).
This is not replicating take-out fried rice at all. No wok hei. No oily residue. It is just a tasty way to make something great out of a lot of odds and ends in my fridge, and is delicious hot and cold.
Start with the RIGHT KIND of rice: long grain from Asian market, not minute rice, not sticky. For frying, rice must not be overcooked, i.e. not soggy and lumpy. A little on the dry side would work better, hence leftovers or overnight.
I use a seasoned wok or a non-stick pan, medium heat, no excessive oil. Any sticky rice (should be some but little) is scraped up during stir frying using a metal Chinese spatula that is meant for a wok. The tiny burned bits are a good thing, as Martha would say.
Chinese restaurants use left over rice, at room temperature typically. Their recipe, more or less:
- Prepare other ingredients (meat, shrimp, vege, etc.) as usual (except eggs, to follow), i.e. as if without fried rice. Set aside.
- Heat oil. Loosen pre-cooked rice lumps the best you can before adding to oil. Add salt/pepper to taste, and a dash (and I mean ONLY a dash) of good brand oyster sauce (secret weapon), stir fry. Optional, add a bit of water and cover briefly to steam. When done, there should be very little lumps of rice (each grain is separated), stuck rice should be scraped up, and there should be no water left.
- Add scrambled eggs, finely diced scallions over rice, stir fry. When done, eggs should be fully cooked, uniformly coating the rice, and anything stuck should be scraped up. You are done if not using other ingredients.
- Add other ingredients and stir fry.
For my own favorite recipe, a bacon kimchi fried rice, I keep a couple of things constant::
The rice must always be cold; I like jasmine rice since it stays separate, sticky rice is not as ideal.
I use a non stick but it is coated in bacon fat, but I use medium high heat
If I use my ci pan, it's high heat
Sauté aromatics first: scallion, ginger, garlic, chile
Add rice, let brown a bit
Add seasoning like oyster sauce or soy
Make a well, add a bit more bacon grease and pour in beaten egg; scramble
Start to ncorporate egg into rice; add kimchi & fried bacon; add green scallion, serve.
I use a nonstick pan. I start with toasted sesame oil. I stir fry my veggies (usually onion and ginger paste first, then add snow peas, carrots, whatever floats your boat). Let the veggies cook just a bit, then push to the side, another dab of sesame oil, and do the egg (or eggs)
I let the egg cook until nearly done, then flip it (oh yeah, I start with beaten egg, just break it up with a fork you don't have to make it frothy), let the other side set up, break it up and stir it all together.
Then dump it out, splash in some more sesame oil. Let that heat up, then dump in my day-old-or-older rice (break up the clumps). Stir that around well until it's well coated. Pour in however much soy (I usually use some dark and some light), sometimes I add a splash of mirin or sake. I stir in the veggies - if I'm using bean sprouts they go in now. Turn off the heat and serve it up.
If you don't like a lot of soy sauce, don't use a lot. For me, fried rice ought to be simple and easy, and this has been. I don't have to heat the pan up smoking hot - in fact the sesame oil will burn if I try to do that. This isn't how we made fried rice in the Chinese restaurant I worked in but the results are just as good, as long as you don't get too heavy handed with the soy sauce.
I like to eat fried rice for breakfast. I use cold day old Japanese rice, aka sushi rice.
Amounts are approximate, 1 large or 2 regular servings.
2-3 cups rice
1-3 slices bacon, cut into 1" squares
1 egg, slightly beaten, seasoned with 1/2 t shoyu, dash of white pepper.
2T shoyu aka soy sauce
1-2 green onions chopped, or similar amount of chopped yellow onion
small handful of frozen peas
Cook bacon in "dry pan", remove bacon and drain some of the bacon fat (health reasons), add ~1/2 T of oil, cook egg , add back bacon, mix well, add 1-2T of oil, heat, add rice, "chop" rice with spatula to break it up, add shoyu, stir frequently, until rice is heated, add frozen peas and green onion, (if using yellow onion, cook in bacon fat before cooking egg.
I also like to add ketchup, ~4 T, probably not "traditional". Oyster sauce adds a lot of flavor, sometimes I add ~1-2T of oyster sauce diluted with shoyu or water. I dilute the oyster sauce so it covers more rice, doesn't concentrate the oyster sauce in one/two areas.
I cook the egg similar to a pancake, then cut it up with a spatula (while in the pan).
If you want this for dinner, use chicken/shrimp/etc., add more veggies: celery, carrots, bigger slices of onion. Note, stir fry the veggies before adding rice.
I don't use non stick because I want to use higher heat, I use cast iron or stainless steel. SS requires more oil.
I use room temperature rice. NOT cold. I don't like refrigerated rice and don't like it for making fried rice either. (I normally leave my rice out (covered) at room temperature overnight, even for 2-3 days)** The more important thing IMO is what biondanonima said upthread about the rice.
Hot pan works fine, wok not imperative. Use enough oil; but excessive oil will give you oil-logged fried rice. ("more is better" --> NOT)
Ingredients (e.g. veggies) tossed in with the mixture should NOT exude too much water when cooked, especially if you are not using 20,000BTU heat to really drive off the excess moisture generated.
Often I find it useful to cover the rice in the pan at the end for a *short* period to allow the mixture to "steam" briefly --> it helps with fluffing the rice and getting any "sticking stuff" at the bottom to loosen up. I very much prefer to not use a non-stick pan.
** Please desist from arguments here about "leaving rice out". There are enough rants elsewhere on other threads on CH about this.
I use a non-stick skillet or a cast-iron skillet. Don't skimp on the oil (although you can get away with a lot less in a non-stick). Don't crowd the pan - if you have a 12" skillet I would do no more than 2-3 cups of cooked rice at one time. The light, fluffy texture also comes from starting with perfectly cooked rice - if your cooked rice is waterlogged or mushy, nothing will make your fried rice turn out well.