Give a man a fish, and he'll eat for a day. Teach him how to fish and he'll eat forever.
- Old Saying
Lets us make the old saying above true - let's learn to make some delicious fried rice today so that you do not have to buy Chinese takeouts.
A few months back, I learnt the secret to restaurant style fried rice when we had dinner at a hibachi grill in my quaint little town. Once we had placed our orders at the restaurant, the chef walked in with a cart full of goodies which was soon to get converted into our dinner that evening. The best part of the evening, according to the four over-enthusiastic kids in our group, was when the chef cut string cheese into pieces and threw the pieces at us to catch in the mouth. Well, that game sent the kids into an uproar. As a foot note, let me tell you that only the kids managed to get the cheese bits in their mouth. I guess, the adults were a little embarrassed to go hither-thither catching the flying cheese pieces.
According to your's truly, the best part of the evening was the conversations we had and of course learning how to make fried rice, restaurant style 🙂 .
High Heat/ Hot Wok
If you have noticed, the wok used in Chinese food joints, they are hot, very very very (I hope you get the idea) hot. Do not worry even if you do not have a wok. I do not own a wok, but that does not stop me from making fried rice at home. What I have at my disposal is a big skillet. I have put in the request to my team mates - my husband and Sonshine, but looks like the request will be granted by the team only after a few photography equipment (all in the name of this blog) and Yuh-gi-oh! trading cards (again, I am guaranteed by Sonshine that it is for this blog, ). I am waiting. So for now, I use my skillet.
Because of the high heat that is used in preparing fried rice, you should use an oil that has high smoking point. I have a big collection of oils to use depending on their intended use, but to make fried rice, I use peanut oil . If you are allergic to peanuts, then you can use any oil that has high smoking point.
I use the fragrant Jasmine rice to make fried rice. It is perfect - short grain, sticky and very fragrant. Now, the catch here is that you cannot make fried rice immediately after you cook rice. The key to a good fried rice is cooked rice that has cooled down.
A little planning goes a long way... You can make the rice well in advance, let it cool down completely and then use it to prepare the fried rice. And here is a trick you can try if you are in a hurry - Once the rice is cooked, spread it evenly and thinly on a big flat tray to cool it off faster. The reason behind cooling the rice before making fried rice is to avoid the heat, steam and sticky rice from making a "steamed rice" instead of fried rice. Having steamed rice instead of fried rice kind of beats the whole purpose, ain't it?
When I was reading up on the history and origin of fried rice, I learnt that fried rice was actually "invented" to use up left over rice.
I like to use fresh vegetables like carrots, green bell pepper, green onions, fresh or frozen corn, green peas etc. in the fried rice. They not only make the dish extremely colorful, but also impart a nice taste. You can decide the vegetables that you want to add, but try to keep them simple and finely chopped. Egg Lovers? You can scramble some eggs and you use it along with the vegetables.
If you have a preferred brand of soy sauce, do not hesitate to use that. I buy whatever catches my fancy when I visit the Asian grocery store.
I have found recipes that use oyster sauce while preparing fried rice. But my family does not care for the taste, so I do not use it.
In some recipes for fried rice, sesame oil is drizzled at the end to add additional flavor.
Now the Secret Ingredient...
Lets talk about the secret I learnt from the chef at that Hibachi restaurant. Along with the rice, he mixed softened butter! Butter?? That was not something I had thought of as an ingredient while preparing fried rice. My family craves fried rice almost every other week and I am very careful about the butter that we consume. If you are feeling particularly bold or are among the lucky ones that do not have to count the calories, please feel free to use more butter than I have mentioned in the recipe. But please note that you have to at least use the quantity I have mentioned below - that is like a bare minimum.
One more secret....
Since we are still sharing secrets, here is one more for you. Once you have added the veggies, and flavorings, let the rice cook for an additional minute or two after cranking up the heat. When you see the rice grains are kind of well heated and they look like they are trying to jump off the wok/skillet, then you know you fried rice is ready.
A few more links that you can explore to learn more about this wonderful dish.
- 2 Cups Jasmine Rice/ White rice/Brown Rice
- 1 Carrot; medium sized
- ½ Bell pepper
- 4-5 Baby corn; canned
- 1-2 Green Onions/Spring Onions
- 2-3 cloves Garlic
- 1-2 tsp Peanut Oil
- 1.5-2 Tablespoon Butter softened
- 3-4 tbsp Soy Sauce; or to taste
- Salt to taste optional
- Sauce pan
- Measuring cups
- Measuring spoons If you can eye ball the measurements, no need for these
- Chopping board and Knives
- Can Opener if you are using canned baby corns.
- Cook rice according to package directions. See recipe notes to see how I cook jasmine rice.
- Prepare the vegetables - Wash the vegetables. Peel and dice the carrots. Dice the bell pepper and the canned baby corns. Slice the green onions thinly. Finely chop the garlic.
- Heat peanut oil in a wok/skillet over medium high heat, add chopped garlic and saute it for a minute.
- Add the rice (previously cooked and cooled) and the softened butter to the wok/skillet. Give it a quick mix.
- Once the butter is incorporated into the rice, add the chopped vegetables and mix it well.
- Pour the soy sauce to the rice and vegetable mix.
- Taste and adjust the seasonings if required.
- Crank up the heat and leave the rice in the skillet for another 2-3 minutes till the rice is well fried.
- Serve hot.