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How to make Fried Rice like a Chinese Restaurant

How to make Fried Rice like a Chinese Restaurant
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  • How to make Fried Rice like a Chinese Restaurant

    Post #1 - October 19th, 2011, 9:49 am
    Post #1 - October 19th, 2011, 9:49 am Post #1 - October 19th, 2011, 9:49 am
    I have been researching this and have not really found the "secret" to it. One thing I know for sure is use day old cooked rice. There are many recipes on the internet but still none seem like they would do it. I am looking to make the brown colored delicious fried rice you used to be able to get at chinese takeouts. It was addictive and had rice, scrambled eggs, green onions, small pieces of meat, sometimes pork or beef, and bean sprouts in it, as well as soy sauce. After that I don' t know. Oyster sauce??? A finish with sesame oil? Stock?? Five spice powder??? Recipes vary on the internet. Some say it can not be duplicated at home due to the high heat needed for the wok but that does not make sense to me. A lot of places now make it and it does not taste like it used to. They take rice and throw in some peas and carrots, onions and soy and call it a day. So please advise if you have any insights or have worked in an old school chinese place and know the secret.
    Toria

    "I like this place and willingly could waste my time in it" - As You Like It,
    W. Shakespeare
  • Post #2 - October 19th, 2011, 10:04 am
    Post #2 - October 19th, 2011, 10:04 am Post #2 - October 19th, 2011, 10:04 am
    I really like the duck fried rice at Sun Wah. Maybe Kelly or Laura can be persuaded to share their secret (other than, you know, adding delicious duck). I also add their chile oil to it, which makes it extra-special good.

    I vote for oyster sauce and for cooking the rice a bit, separately, in the wok.
    Leek

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  • Post #3 - October 19th, 2011, 10:46 am
    Post #3 - October 19th, 2011, 10:46 am Post #3 - October 19th, 2011, 10:46 am
    Very timely!
    I just made some fried rice last night and it was somehow off. I think my mistake was salting as I went - a little in the eggs, a bit in the chicken, etc. and when I finally added the soy sauce and oyster sauce it just got overwhelmed.
    I'm anxious to see others thoughts.
  • Post #4 - October 19th, 2011, 11:28 am
    Post #4 - October 19th, 2011, 11:28 am Post #4 - October 19th, 2011, 11:28 am
    I think soy and oyster sauce could be kind of salty themselves. Maybe add salt later to taste or as you are eating. You can also put salt in the rice when you are cooking it and then maybe not add it later. The problem I have had is that there is that missing "old school chinese restaurant taste" that is lacking now. Its not even in home made fried rice its also at most chinese places too. Could it have been lard?
    Toria

    "I like this place and willingly could waste my time in it" - As You Like It,
    W. Shakespeare
  • Post #5 - October 19th, 2011, 11:30 am
    Post #5 - October 19th, 2011, 11:30 am Post #5 - October 19th, 2011, 11:30 am
    My first thought was MSG, but I have no basis for that other than that's probably what was in the fried rice I grew up eating.
    -Mary
  • Post #6 - October 19th, 2011, 11:34 am
    Post #6 - October 19th, 2011, 11:34 am Post #6 - October 19th, 2011, 11:34 am
    I think you need a seasoned wok and a strong enough burner to create really good fried rice. I remember eating the fried rice recently at 7 Treasures in Chinatown, and although it doesn't have the dark brown color you get at some americanized Chinese take out places, it does have the great essense of wok hay which really adds to the flavor. I don't know of any way to impart this flavor at home unless you use a propane tank hooked up to a turkey fryer burner and use a traditional wok.
  • Post #7 - October 19th, 2011, 11:48 am
    Post #7 - October 19th, 2011, 11:48 am Post #7 - October 19th, 2011, 11:48 am
    I've been pretty pleased with my results at home, but I was also shooting for a more traditional, lighter type. Though I also dig that deep, almost caramelized Americanized version, any time I've tried that, I've been unable to keep the seasonings from getting totally overpowering.
    Dominic Armato
    Dining Critic
    The Arizona Republic and azcentral.com
  • Post #8 - October 19th, 2011, 11:51 am
    Post #8 - October 19th, 2011, 11:51 am Post #8 - October 19th, 2011, 11:51 am
    Could it have been lard?


    I doubt it would be lard, but I wouldn't be surprised if it relies on more oil than most people would think of using these days.
  • Post #9 - October 19th, 2011, 12:54 pm
    Post #9 - October 19th, 2011, 12:54 pm Post #9 - October 19th, 2011, 12:54 pm
    Oil and a commercially seasoned wok :P
    "Knowledge is knowing a tomato is a fruit; wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad." Miles Kington
  • Post #10 - October 19th, 2011, 1:44 pm
    Post #10 - October 19th, 2011, 1:44 pm Post #10 - October 19th, 2011, 1:44 pm
    I have had success with the recipe from Bittman's book "How to Cook Everything Vegetarian". The one thing I remember is to use a combination of soy sauce and vinegar, rather than just soy sauce.
  • Post #11 - October 19th, 2011, 1:51 pm
    Post #11 - October 19th, 2011, 1:51 pm Post #11 - October 19th, 2011, 1:51 pm
    rickster wrote:
    Could it have been lard?


    I doubt it would be lard, but I wouldn't be surprised if it relies on more oil than most people would think of using these days.


    I think this is part of the key; you d'wanna know what's really in that takeout fried rice.

    It's funny, I've been successful at home once or twice, and then the same recipe failed later on. I used my cast-iron skillet as I don't have room (or a burner) for a wok - and I preheat that sucker until it smokes. I'm guessing I got fainthearted at the amount of oil.

    I would suggest: make sure you're using both ginger and garlic as seasoning, and toss in some sesame oil along with your soy - I think this is the standard "takeout chinese" seasoning. The texture is where I run into trouble - cold rice is critical, but I've also failed with it, so that's not the only variable (I have had some minor success using brown rice just because the bran protects it a bit from mushiness.)
  • Post #12 - October 19th, 2011, 3:51 pm
    Post #12 - October 19th, 2011, 3:51 pm Post #12 - October 19th, 2011, 3:51 pm
    I also think green onions are key. supposedly add the sesame oil right at the end as it burns easy. I looked at a couple of you tube videos of chinese cooks making fried rice and they did not seem to add anything remarkable. I have not worked with oyster sauce so I dont know if this is key in addition to the soy sauce. I have rice vinegar so I could add that. Sometimes left over meat is used but I think you can use small pieces of fresh beef or pork too. I bet the duck fried rice is made from those hanging ducks that are or were in the window at sun wah.
    Toria

    "I like this place and willingly could waste my time in it" - As You Like It,
    W. Shakespeare
  • Post #13 - October 19th, 2011, 5:19 pm
    Post #13 - October 19th, 2011, 5:19 pm Post #13 - October 19th, 2011, 5:19 pm
    Some tips:

    1.) I use Chinese sausage or duck, and put them in the wok first so that the fat renders out. Remove the meat, leaving the fat and supplement if needed with oil.

    2.) Most Chinese restaurants use a large metal soup ladle/stirrer to push down on the rice in the wok. This helps with separating the rice grains. Clumpy rice will not work. Also make sure the rice is not cold. Room temperature rice separates easier.

    When I make fried rice, I add Chinese mushrooms, green onions, eggs, ginger, garlic, shrimp and Chinese sausage. Everything can be found in my freezer or pantry! Seasonings I use light soy, dark soy, sugar, pepper, and sesame oil to finish. Sometimes I add preserved radish strips for some crunch...
  • Post #14 - October 19th, 2011, 5:31 pm
    Post #14 - October 19th, 2011, 5:31 pm Post #14 - October 19th, 2011, 5:31 pm
    Sugar?? How much sugar do you put in?
    Toria

    "I like this place and willingly could waste my time in it" - As You Like It,
    W. Shakespeare
  • Post #15 - October 19th, 2011, 6:08 pm
    Post #15 - October 19th, 2011, 6:08 pm Post #15 - October 19th, 2011, 6:08 pm
    toria wrote:Sugar?? How much sugar do you put in?


    Depends on how much rice there is... Usually a pinch. I grew up with a darker colored fried rice, hence using both dark and light soy, but that much soy sometimes has a tendency to be too salty, so I add a pinch of sugar to round the flavor up. Just something my mom taught me. She only makes 2 things well: chicken wings and fried rice!

    Also I do not use black pepper. When I was growing up, the only pepper we had in the house was white pepper. I think it is the same in most Chinese households back then.
  • Post #16 - October 19th, 2011, 10:22 pm
    Post #16 - October 19th, 2011, 10:22 pm Post #16 - October 19th, 2011, 10:22 pm
    CrazyC wrote:
    toria wrote:Sugar?? How much sugar do you put in?


    Depends on how much rice there is... Usually a pinch. I grew up with a darker colored fried rice, hence using both dark and light soy, but that much soy sometimes has a tendency to be too salty, so I add a pinch of sugar to round the flavor up. Just something my mom taught me. She only makes 2 things well: chicken wings and fried rice!

    Also I do not use black pepper. When I was growing up, the only pepper we had in the house was white pepper. I think it is the same in most Chinese households back then.


    I'd love to see some sort of basic recipe. I agree there are a million recipes on the internet and it seems like when I make it things are never right.

    I'm sure part of it is equipment - something I'll likely never have.

    But I'm sure another major part is ratios when it comes to the rice and the various liquids used.

    Any suggestions pertaining to that, and perhaps the order in which things ought to be added/removed would be welcome, at least for me.
  • Post #17 - October 19th, 2011, 11:14 pm
    Post #17 - October 19th, 2011, 11:14 pm Post #17 - October 19th, 2011, 11:14 pm
    Hi,

    I like Crazy C's idea of warming up the meat and releasing their fat into the pan. I will borrow that idea.

    I begin my heating the pan until it is medium high heat. I add some oil, once warmed up I add the rice. Once the rice is warmed, perhaps with some crisp bits, I make a well in the center. I will add a bit of oil to this well. Once heated through, I add 1-2 beaten eggs. I let them begin to set a little, then begin stirring and break it up. Eventually the scrambled egg is incorporated into the rice.

    I will then add the slivered meat(s), maybe some frozen peas and other vegetables to heat through.

    The influence of my friend Helen, I now stir in oyster sauce to taste. Mushroom sauce would be a good substitute for vegetarians. I skip soy sauce altogether. At least for me, fried rice was much better due to the addition of oyster sauce.

    Just before serving, I fold in very thinly sliced green onions. (If I use larger segments, I might cook them first in oil before adding rice.

    Regards,
    Cathy2

    "You'll be remembered long after you're dead if you make good gravy, mashed potatoes and biscuits." -- Nathalie Dupree
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  • Post #18 - October 20th, 2011, 12:03 am
    Post #18 - October 20th, 2011, 12:03 am Post #18 - October 20th, 2011, 12:03 am
    You know who knows how to make fried rice - Mike Sula. This was the best home-cooked version I've ever had; brown, non-clumpy, and lots of wok hay, just like you're after. Cooked partially in chicken fat. Maybe he'll share the method.
  • Post #19 - October 20th, 2011, 1:00 am
    Post #19 - October 20th, 2011, 1:00 am Post #19 - October 20th, 2011, 1:00 am
    I'd love it if Mike would share. My success ratio (in a cast iron skillet) is about 50/50, and I never figured out what the variables were.
    I've always used just soy sauce for salt, never additional. Garlic, ginger, green onion. Never tried vinegar. Never used oyster sauce. Sometimes it magically worked, other times not so much. Would love to see a genuine recipe.
    "Strange how potent cheap music is."
  • Post #20 - October 20th, 2011, 7:42 am
    Post #20 - October 20th, 2011, 7:42 am Post #20 - October 20th, 2011, 7:42 am
    Leela discusses this very thing in her post on making Pad See Ew - she has a video there, and says:

    In the dialogue, the cook is sharing with me the importance of using high -- very high -- heat in order to get what he calls, "the wok smell." Chinese cooks know this well: you can't make good fried noodles or rice without a well-seasoned wok and high heat. If you ever wonder why the fried rice you make at home, though tasty, doesn't have that familiar toasty fragrance -- the secret smell -- that you get from restaurant fried rice, what is missing is this "wok smell." You'll never get that from using moderate heat. It's even more difficult, if not virtually impossible, to get that desired fragrance when you use a nonstick pan.
    Leek

    SAVING ONE DOG may not change the world,
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  • Post #21 - October 20th, 2011, 7:51 am
    Post #21 - October 20th, 2011, 7:51 am Post #21 - October 20th, 2011, 7:51 am
    Wok Hay = "breath of the wok"... :D

    as others have noted, a well seasoned, roaring hot wok is a necessity. My tips: cold, day old rice, peanut oil, sesame oil, garlic, ginger, 5 spice, white pepper, dark soy sauce, maybe a little chicken stock to deglaze/flavor in necessary. green onion garnish at the end.
  • Post #22 - October 20th, 2011, 7:58 am
    Post #22 - October 20th, 2011, 7:58 am Post #22 - October 20th, 2011, 7:58 am
    Definitely need a high heat... There is a turbo boil setting on my gas burners, used for boiling rapidly. I use it for stirfrying... :)
  • Post #23 - October 20th, 2011, 8:21 am
    Post #23 - October 20th, 2011, 8:21 am Post #23 - October 20th, 2011, 8:21 am
    BTW I find this whole thread to be very entertaining, because I don't think many Chinese people put this much thought into making fried rice! Ask an older Chinese person how they make fried rice, and they will probably give you a very funny look!

    The whole premise of fried rice is to use up leftovers and to make kids eat more rice!

    This is how I do it:

    1.) Prep: Slice chinese sausages, soaked chinese mushrooms, vegetables/protein (if any). Take out frozen peas (optional). Slice roast duck (usually leftovers) and separate the skin/fat from meat.

    2.) Heat up wok on med-high. Add a smidgen of oil (maybe 1 tsp?). Add chinese sausage and duck skin/fat. Wait for the sausage to turn a little brown and crispy. Remove from wok. Leave the grease.

    3.) There should be enough oil to coat the bottom of the wok. If not, add more. Increase heat to turbo (or your highest setting) .Put in the chinese mushrooms, and stir fry for a minute or two.

    4.) If you are using raw meat/seafood, add them now with some garlic and ginger, minced. If you add the garlic and ginger in the beginning, I find that it has a tendency to burn with the super high heat. When it loses its raw color, add the vegetables. Then the roast duck meat and chinese sausage and peas.

    5.) Add the day old rice. You did declump it right? Basically make sure all the grains are separate and not clumped up.

    6.) Stir until heated through. Add seasonings (light and dark soy, sugar, pepper). Taste and adjust.

    7.) Beat 1 or 2 eggs and either create a well and scramble them in the well before incorporating OR dump it on top of the rice and stir like crazy. OR you can also make thin omelets before had and shred with a knife.

    8.) Finish with green onions and sesame oil. Voila!
  • Post #24 - October 20th, 2011, 8:29 am
    Post #24 - October 20th, 2011, 8:29 am Post #24 - October 20th, 2011, 8:29 am
    Hi,

    Here is what I won't do: diced carrots. Peas, yes.

    There is a Chinese take-out in my area that recently changed hands. It is rather distressing, because that 'breath of a wok' element was sorely missing in the new owner's hands.

    When Grace Young was at Culinary Historians last year, she did discuss wok cooking techniques. While a home kitchen will never have the heat in a commercial, she felt people were tossing their food too much. When she added shrimp to her wok (hand carried with her on the plane), she let it sit at least a minute to get some carmelization.

    Her book Stir Frying to the Sky's Edge covers stir frying techniques. In parallel to its publication, she had an article in Saveur outlining five techniques.

    Having good technique will really make your food taste as good or better than most local Chinese restaurants.

    Regards,
    Cathy2

    "You'll be remembered long after you're dead if you make good gravy, mashed potatoes and biscuits." -- Nathalie Dupree
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  • Post #25 - October 20th, 2011, 8:49 am
    Post #25 - October 20th, 2011, 8:49 am Post #25 - October 20th, 2011, 8:49 am
    I do have a high output burner on my stove but its not as hot as what they might have in a chinese restaurant kitchen. My wok is not an authentic one but a "wok like pan" so there won't be the wok hay. I guess you don't need to use peanut oil, regular vegetable oil is okay. I plan on making mine with fresh beef for beef fried rice and I won't be putting the chinese sausage in it. As I recall, the fried rice I loved so much had bean sprouts in it. It did not seem to have much in it except beef, bean sprouts, small pieces of egg, and green onions, besides the condiments and seasonings. I can't remember if there were pieces of water chestnuts but I have not heard anyone mention those. Actually you can put anything you want in fried rice, I'm trying to recreated something from a memory of decades ago.
    Toria

    "I like this place and willingly could waste my time in it" - As You Like It,
    W. Shakespeare
  • Post #26 - October 20th, 2011, 8:52 am
    Post #26 - October 20th, 2011, 8:52 am Post #26 - October 20th, 2011, 8:52 am
    The problem with carrots is if raw they would take too much time to get done. The fried rice I recall did not have carrots, although in this day and age they are found in a lot of chinese dishes, including fried rice. Years ago you could get chinese food with real chinese vegetables, bok choy, bamboo shoots, bean sprouts, black mushrooms, tree ear, lily buds. Now they chop up some green pepper, onions, and carrots drench it in a sweetish soy sauce and that's chinese food. Maybe I'm a victim of "suburban chinese food syndrome" and I need to go to China town.
    Toria

    "I like this place and willingly could waste my time in it" - As You Like It,
    W. Shakespeare
  • Post #27 - October 20th, 2011, 8:55 am
    Post #27 - October 20th, 2011, 8:55 am Post #27 - October 20th, 2011, 8:55 am
    toria,

    If you are going to use bean sprouts, you have to be careful, since bean sprouts release quite a bit of liquid when stir fried. It may make your fried rice too wet depending on when you add them. I would stir fry them first on super high heat.
  • Post #28 - October 20th, 2011, 9:00 am
    Post #28 - October 20th, 2011, 9:00 am Post #28 - October 20th, 2011, 9:00 am
    Okay thanks for all your helpful info.
    Toria

    "I like this place and willingly could waste my time in it" - As You Like It,
    W. Shakespeare
  • Post #29 - October 20th, 2011, 9:22 am
    Post #29 - October 20th, 2011, 9:22 am Post #29 - October 20th, 2011, 9:22 am
    Hi,

    In Chinese restaurants, there are two kinds of fried rice:

    1) Cheap soy slathered stuff which is offered as an alternative to white rice with your main course.

    2) Stand alone menu item made with greater care and far more ingredients.

    I do have a high output burner on my stove but its not as hot as what they might have in a chinese restaurant kitchen.

    Nobody does, but if you let the food sit in the oil and not roll it around so much, you can get a better product. Ask your library for Grace's book, it will offer insight on how to get as good as it gets with a domestic stove.


    My wok is not an authentic one but a "wok like pan" so there won't be the wok hay.


    A wok is nice, but it is not necessary. I have successfully made Chinese food in frying pans and Dutch ovens. A flat bottom wok is fine, because Grace Young's is a 14-inch wok with a flat bottom and sloped edges. Works very well on a domestic stove.

    Regards,
    Cathy2

    "You'll be remembered long after you're dead if you make good gravy, mashed potatoes and biscuits." -- Nathalie Dupree
    Facebook, Twitter, Greater Midwest Foodways, Road Food 2012: Podcast
  • Post #30 - October 20th, 2011, 9:54 am
    Post #30 - October 20th, 2011, 9:54 am Post #30 - October 20th, 2011, 9:54 am
    Toria -
    The fried rice you describe is also the fried rice of my youth which is harder and harder to find these days.

    I make it at home all of time.

    Day old refrigerated rice. Whether it's room temp at the time of prep hasn't mattered for me. I use a heavy metal spatula to break up the lumps - no big deal.

    I use a very well seasoned SCREAMING hot wok. My high burner can spit out some flame - I doubt it's as high as your average Chinese restaurant can produce, but it has an inner and outer ring of fire in the one high output burner, and it will encompass most of my sauce pans in flames if I crank it. I can only crank it to full safely using stock pots or large skillets. In the large wok I use, the flames do creep up the sides, and grease splatters can catch flames. It's kinda neat, but anyway -

    When the wok is almost at screaming, I do the eggs, in a little bit of an oil that can take the heat, and few drops of sesame oil. Remove and set aside.

    Next, the veggies I want to use (except for the green onion, and sprouts.) Stir fry those in a little more oil - do them in batches if you need to - an overcrowded wok defeats the entire purpose of using a wok. Season them with a little garlic, ginger,soy, and sesame oil in the wok. Then I'll do the sprouts by themselves.

    Next, meat. again, little bit of oil, drop of sesame oil, when the meat is done to your liking, remove it, but keep as much of the fat in the wok as you can.

    Now, add your green onion, get it a little bit browned, then swirl the oil around the wok, and start adding rice, break it up in your hand as you add it. If your wok is well seasoned, and hot enough, the rice won't stick badly at all - add oil as / if needed. Splash in some soy sauce & sesame oil, then get some garlic in the bottom of the wok for a few seconds so it will sizzle and release flavor mix it all up. Once your rice looks like you want it, create a well at the bottom of the wok, get a few drops of oyster sauce, and let that sizzle flor a few sec (I also add in some chili garlic sauce for bite - but that is my preference,) fold it into the rice, and when everything is coated, add your veggies and meat. You're done. Once your wok is screaming hot, then this whole thing is just a blur - you need EVERYTHING at the ready - maybe I'll post piks of everything next time I make this. I make it generally at least once every two weeks with leftover meats and veggies. I normally always make extra rice specifically for fried rice. I'm not sure, but I think the screaming hot wok might be more important than you give it credit for. It can probably be done in a different pan on lower heat, but would need to be done in much smaller batches to not crowd the pan or bring the temperature down too much to result in merely sauteeing the food.
    We cannot be friends if you do not know the difference between Mayo and Miracle Whip.

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