I think it’s safe to say that everybody loves fried rice. It’s one of the most popular items on Chinese menus from both Chinese and non-Chinese people alike. It’s versatile, hearty, and can be so delicious…if made the right way.
Oftentimes friends of mine will tell me that they really love Chinese fried rice but can’t seem to recreate their restaurant favorite in their own kitchen. While I wouldn’t dare self-proclaim myself as the supreme king of fried rice, I do think my credentials of having eaten and cooked the dish almost all of my life make me a somewhat expert on the matter. With that being said, I want to offer up some tips on how to make some great fried rice and hopefully debunk some rumors that you might have otherwise heard.
1. Never used freshly cooked rice. I understand why this might be difficult for some people to stick to because usually you cook what you want, when you want. People don’t usually associate making fried rice as an elaborate event that you need to prepare for days ahead. But, if you don’t have any rice that’s been cooked already on hand, cook your plain rice and save making the fried rice for the next day. Freshly cooked rice is warm and soft. Stir frying it with eggs and vegetables and soy sauce will make it even more soft and oftentimes really mushy. No one likes a mushy fried rice. The best fried rice is made with refrigerated rice that had been cooked a day or two ahead of time. If you’re looking for that restaurant quality, separate grains and great textured fried rice, take your freshly cooked rice and spread it out on a pan. Let that pan air dry and when the rice has cooled, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for the next day. The rice will be perfect and ready to soak up all of the flavors of the other components to make a perfect fried rice.
Tip: if you are really craving fried rice but don’t have any rice on hand, try getting some precooked rice or “quick rice” bags from the grocery store. They’re inexpensive and really convenient. Don’t preheat the rice, just add it in like you would normally and mix it well so that any clumps will break apart. When it comes to brown rice (which I don’t even know how to cook in a rice cooker), this shortcut is perfect.
2. Cook your eggs first, and separately. So technically you don’t have to cook your eggs first, but it’s just easier on you so you don’t have to wash your pan between cooking the rice and the egg. Cooking your eggs separately is extremely key. People often say that they don’t like that the egg in their fried rice gets dry or overcooked. To ensure fluffy and tasty eggs in your fried rice, cook and scramble your eggs in the wok or pan first. Let the egg get slightly golden or at least solidify, and then set them aside in a separate bowl. You can sauté your meat and then your vegetables in the same pan. Then add soy sauce and whatever other seasonings you’d like and then the rice. The last step should be to add your egg and mix. Not only will the eggs retain their moisture from not being overcooked, they’ll also retain their golden yellow color, which will add color and presentation points, if you are planning on making this for guests.
Tip: People are oftentimes confused about the egg to rice ratio. I personally like bigger chunks of egg and a hearty ratio with the rice so I usually follow 1-2 eggs per 1 cup of cooked rice. If the eggs are larger, it’ll be 1:1. I’ve found that this ratio works really well for most fried rice lovers.
3. The basic steps to making fried rice are: scramble eggs, cook meat, then vegetables, then rice. All of you recipe followers should already have this down but in case you don’t, remember this. Getting the steps mixed up could result in some disastrous end products. If you are using raw meat, make sure your meat is mostly cooked through before adding your vegetables and definitely before adding in your rice.
4. Be careful of over salting your fried rice. It surprises me how common this problem is for people. I think people get mixed up with the soy sauce, what I consider to be the only ingredient that should add salt to the dish. As a rule of thumb for those who don’t use soy sauce often, don’t add salt to your fried rice. I think people tend to over salt because they add salt to their eggs and then add some salt to their meat and or vegetables. The salt content in everything ends up compounding and things just get way too salty. If you’re not following a recipe, be aware of over salting. Add a bit of the total dishes’ soy sauce when sautéing the meat and or vegetables and then the rest after adding in the rice. It’s hard to correct and over salted fried rice, so be careful.
And there you have it folks. Some of my basic tips for making some bomb fried rice. Hope you enjoy and let me know your thoughts on Twitter or email me!