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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.

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  1. 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.

    1 Reply
    1. - Use day-old rice straight from the fridge.

      - Use a wok and make sure it's screaming hot.

      Those are the 2 basic non-negotiable rules.

      More details here: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/317549

      3 Replies
      1. re: ipsedixit

        Yup - cold rice and hot wok.

        I also wonder if people in China have been making fried rice "for centuries" if at all...

        1. re: Sushiqueen36

          They have, but not the way we generally make it now.

          It was really a way to use up old rice.

        2. re: ipsedixit

          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.

        3. 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
          1-3T oil
          1-3 slices bacon, cut into 1" squares
          1 egg, slightly beaten, seasoned with 1/2 t shoyu, dash of white pepper.
          S&P
          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.

          1. 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.

            1. 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.