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Jan 27, 2014 10:43 PM

Fried rice like the old days

When I was a child Chinese fried rice was delicious. Now I can't find even one Chinese restaurant that produces this dish well. Any suggestions in Manhattan?

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  1. Not really a fried rice authority myself, but I'll offer up this observation: Could it be that your memory of fried rice is more "delicious" than it really is? Maybe your tastes have changed, not the fried rice? But who knows, maybe someone will have an answer for you about some really good, old school fried rice. :)

    4 Replies
    1. re: ttoommyy

      I think there was a distinctive Chinese-American fried rice back when I was growing up. Hard to describe, but browner, saltier. Haven't seen it in decades, and I can understand a craving for it.

      1. re: mwhitmore

        Definitely was not as dry as now.

        1. re: mwhitmore

          "Hard to describe, but browner, saltier."

          Could it have anything to do with the rampant use of MSG back then? Just thinking out loud.

          1. re: mwhitmore

            I think there's a fairly simple explanation: soy sauce. Lots of soy sauce. If you make fried rice at home from the recipe in any reputable Chinese cookbook, you'll get something light-colored and flavored primarily by the "bits," as I think of them--a little leftover roast pork or shrimp, the egg, the vegetables--along with onion and the flavor that comes from contact with the hot wok. Delicious, but not what you remember. But if you imagine taking that preparation and then pouring in a large quantity of soy sauce near the end, you'd get something "brown"..."salty...wetter."

        2. I would guess most of the Cantonese restaurants in Chinatown would meet your criteria.

          Incidentally, I agree with you. Most of the fried rice today is a sad excuse for fried rice. Have you tried making your own? Not difficult.

          4 Replies
          1. re: Stuartmc910

            Have you tried making your own? Not difficult.

            That's right, it is not difficult to make fried rice.

            It is difficult to make good fried rice. Especially at home, where even when using a "wok" or wok-style pan, it's hard to get the necessary wok hei and temp to do a quick flash of the veggies, rice, etc. without overcooking. Plus, something about restaurant grease just makes fried rice in restaurants all that much better.

            And I don't know about the "old days" but even today it's really hard to find good fried rice in restaurants.

            1. re: ipsedixit

              ipsedixit is correct when it comes to cooking, the most important part is the temp. of the wok. My family owned several Chinese-American restaurants. Here's a roast pork fried (or chicken, beef, shrimp) rice recipe. In a hot wok, couple of teaspoons of veggie oil. Add the roast port, chopped Spanish onions, bean sprouts. When the first three ingredients are hoping in the wok, add rice (ideally, day old white rice) then add scramble egg yolk, bit of soy sauce (for color) and green scallions at the end. The roast pork, chicken can be made ahead of time, as well as the scramble egg yolk.

                1. re: Ttrockwood

                  You can use the entire egg. In the restaurants
                  we used egg whites for egg drop soup. Hence, the yolks in our fried rice dishes.

          2. Try the gomoku chahan at Saburi on Lex. It's a Japanese style Chinese eatery. They use a shorter grain rice and it's not as oily as some Chinese places.

            1 Reply
            1. The chicken and salt fish fried rice at NY Noodletown as well as at Yogee is excellent. In Cantonese it sounds like Ham yu gai lap chow fan. It is written 鹹魚雞粒炒飯.
              strangely enough, Saigon Grill on Amst. had really wonderful vegetable fried rice. I miss it.

              1. As strange as this may sounds, the Fried Rice at Benehana is closest to what I remember fried rice being about 25 years ago. Its much saltier and wetter that what you get in most places these days.

                1 Reply
                1. re: princeofpork3

                  Benihana's chefs add Garlic Butter to the fried rice. Ever wondered why the Garlic Butter tastes so "yummy"? It has MSG.

                  Does old-style fried rice have MSG?