Have you ever replicate the restaurant style Chinese fried rice, but still fall short of the result you want after trying all the methods on the internet, YouTube and recipe books? This article is aimed to provide the final piece of the missing puzzle that you are searching for.
I am referring to the simple Chinese fried rice with only eggs, garlic, scallions, soy sauce, and a pinch of salt.
These simple ingredients deliver a delicate balance of flavor and texture, which appeals to almost every palate.
If you are serious about cooking Chinese fried rice that will make everyone yearning for more, read the following sections before attempting the recipe. There is a lot more information which is not able to include in the recipe itself.
This fried rice recipe is adapted from the fried rice served in our restaurant. In my opinion, it is hard to define the best fried rice because every palate is unique. However, since this method is easy to replicate and required just a few ingredients, we hope it is useful for anyone who intends to replicate it at home.
The simplest Chinese fried rice turns out to be the most difficult one!
Why? Because there is no meat, chicken, shrimps, and spices to enhance the flavor.
It is all about technique to create the aroma, the desired texture, and flavor.
This is like showing off your vocal talent by performing acapella instead of jamming with a heavy metal band.
I will show you section by section, explaining each technique/ingredient in detail. That means this article is not for you if you are looking for a quick fix.
In contrast, once you have perfected your skill to cook this simple Chinese fried rice, you will be able to handle all other more ‘sophisticated ‘ fried rice recipes with ease.
Let’s dive in!
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1. Is it really better to fry with leftover rice?
In my opinion, leftover rice is not the best way to prepare fried rice, although this is common in many Chinese restaurants.
There is a sound reason to use it in the restaurant. First, they will not waste any rice which is left the day before, which will turn stale on the following day. Secondly, leftover rice is drier and less sticky. Therefore it is easier to fry and will not stick onto the wok.
You will read the method of how to make the freshly cooked rice completely not sticky, just like leftover rice. So be patient.
Here is the method if you use leftover rice:
- Keep the cooked rice in a container and cover it.
- Place the rice in the refrigerator.
- Remove the rice from the refrigerator the next day. Steam the rice in a steamer or heat it up in the microwave oven (a much convenient way) until the rice is hot and soft. Now it is ready for frying.
Leftover rice tends to be drier than fresh rice. It will easily turn hard and dry if you stir-fried it for too long.
If you decide to use freshly cooked rice, rinse the uncooked rice as usual. Drain away the water and cook with 1.7x of the weight of the washed, drained rice. For example, for 1kg of dry rice, I will rinse it with water twice, removed the water with a wire mesh strainer, and then cooked with 1700 ml of water.
Cooking with stock
If the rice is cooked solely for fried rice, you have the luxury to use chicken broth instead of plain water to cook the rice.
Cooking with stock (preferably homemade chicken stock with neutral flavor) enhanced the flavor of the fried rice. By doing so, you do not need to add too many ingredients to fry the rice to make it tasty.
It is an open secret that many Chinese restaurants add either MSG or chicken powder (the powder form of chicken bouillon) to Chinese fried rice. Using your homemade chicken stock is the healthier alternative.
In fact, we use our homemade chicken broth (We always have chicken broth in our restaurant) to cook our Chinese fried rice at any time. However, if you intend to use part of the rice for frying, then you may just want to cook with water. For your convenience, the rice in this recipe is cooked with just water. You need to reduce the amount of salt if you use chicken stock that already seasoned with salt.
We use just water in the following recipe. You need to reduce the amount of salt if you use chicken stock that already seasoned with salt.
The benefit of using fresh rice to prepare fried rice
Chinese fried rice prepared with freshly cooked rice has a softer texture, yet you can make the outer surface dryer by frying briefly with high heat. The rice is delicate inside and aromatic outside. This texture is what I perceive a good fried rice suppose to be.
Remove the rice to let it cool down for half an hour before start frying. If you intend to fry it immediately, you can spread the rice on a large tray and blow it under the fan for five to ten minutes. Both methods help to dry the surface and make it less sticky during stir-frying. The inner part of the rice grain remains soft and tender.
2. What is the best way to add the eggs to the rice?
There are three common ways to add the eggs to the fried rice:
- Coat the rice with egg liquid as in the recipe at the end of this article.
- Fried an egg and serve together with the rice.
- Cook the egg like an omelet, then cut it into smaller pieces and mix with the rice.
I used all these methods, and settle with coating the rice with eggs which provides the best result.
The eggs that coat the rice grains form a barrier on the surface once it is cooked. Since each grain is now coated with a thin layer of omelet, the rice will not stick to the wok,
Furthermore, the inner part of the rice is soft, This result is loosely analogous to the standard breading method of flying schnitzel, in which the breadcrumbs form a protective shield to prevent direct heat onto the meat.
Once the egg liquid layer is set/cook, you can turn to high heat to start to generate the ‘wok-hei’ without having the problem of the rice sticking to the wok surface.
3. The right way to fry the garlic until it turns golden brown
I learned the trick how to prepare the fried garlic from my partner in the restaurant.
This method is used to prepare Japanese teppanyaki garlic fried rice. It is crispy, and infuse the oil with a strong garlicky flavor. We use it in our Chinese fried rice with great success.
- Chopped the garlic.
- Heat up the vegetable oil in the wok, add the minced garlic into it.
- Saute the garlic over low heat until it just turns to light brown and crispy.
- Remove the garlic from the wok, and leave the garlicky oil in the wok for frying the rice.
The key is to saute the garlic over low heat and slowly. By doing so, there is sufficient time to enable the garlic flavor to diffuse into the oil. This concept is similar to prepare the agleo e oleo pasta , in which garlic is first sauteed in oil over low heat. Fried rice that is wonderfully flavored with garlic oil makes every bite blissful.
The crispy fried garlic is added back to the wok and stir-fried with the rice after the egg forms a solid coating over the rice. The combination of eggs and garlic significantly enhanced the flavor the fried rice.
4. Scallion- the perfect combination with garlic and egg
Scallion is essential for Chinese fried rice. In fact, you will find scallion in most of the Chinese and Japanese fried rice recipes.
We use scallion to stir-fry the rice for the aroma and crunchiness.
Cut two-thirds of the scallion into the short strips, about half cm length for frying the rice.
Cut the remaining one-third into thin rings. Soak the scallions in cold water for ten minutes and drain. This effect is familiar to soaking the lettuce in cold water to make it crunchy. The same principle applies here. The scallion will become very crunchy which is perfect to be used as the topping for the fried rice.
5. A dash of salt and pepper is all you need to season the rice
I like to season with salt at the last stage of stir-frying. This process is my preference, and I find that it gives me a better control over the saltiness of the rice.
How much salt is required? I will start with a half teaspoon (2.5g) of fine salt for every 500g of cooked rice.
As for the pepper, use the ground white pepper, not black pepper. There is a significant difference in taste between them. Most people in Asia use white pepper for general cooking, which will make the Chinese fried rice taste authentic.
6. Premium soy sauce- our secret weapon for the best result
The eggs, scallions, and garlic should have provided sufficient flavor to the fried rice. In fact, if you just stop at this stage, you will get the Chinese fried rice with a pleasant looking bright yellow.
However, it is worth to add some good quality light soy sauce for the final touch.
The quality of soy sauce is important because we are relying on just a few simple ingredients, and the soy sauce will amplify the flavor to the next level.
A common grade soy sauce is only suitable if there are plenty ingredients in the rice. In this case, the flavor of these ingredients will take over the soy sauce.
The ideal amount of soy sauce is a tablespoon (15ml) for every 500g of fried rice. The color of the rice will become too dark if you use more than this amount.
Six tips to produce the best Chinese fried rice at home
There is a misconception even among the kitchen staff that it takes roaring heat to produce the signature aroma (wok-hei) for Chinese fried rice.
In reality, you need to start with a smaller flame. But before you start stir-frying, you should get everything ready to keep things flowing throughout the entire stir-frying process. If you need to stop halfway, reduce the heat to the minimum and get whatever ingredients that are not within reach. Stir-frying is a continuous process that should not be interrupted.
Stir-frying the rice over high heat throughout will produce dry and hard fried rice, although it will have a strong aroma.
So what is the best way to ensure the rice is soft inside and yet with plenty of wok-hei?
- Mix the egg liquids with the rice in a container. Some people like to add the egg liquid directly to the rice in the wok. While this is convenient, I find that mixing the egg liquid and the cooked rice prior adding to the wok works better. In this way, each grain of rice will encase fully by a thin layer of egg liquid.
- Pour the wet rice into the garlic oil over low heat. If you turn up the heat now, the rice will contact the surface of the wok and stick on it.
- Stir fry the rice over low heat until the egg liquid is set and form a thin layer of omelet that encases every grain.
- Since the rice grains are covered with cooked egg, it will not stick to the wok even your are now frying it over a towering inferno. (Trust me. Try it!)
- Turn to high heat and stir-fry briefly and get the aroma of the wok (wok-hei). Make sure you do not be overly ambitious and stir-fry it for too long, as the rice will become hard and dry.
- Fried in small batches if you do not have a high power wok stove. I use 500 g of rice in the following recipe, which I think is the maximum you should cook if you are using a standard gas stove or induction stove at home. It is about the balance of demand and supply. High power stove can generate more heat to fry a large amount of rice. You can get the same result with a smaller stove by cooking in small batches.
Now you have the clear picture of how to deal with each ingredient, and the secret behind a good Chinese fried rice, you are ready to replicate one of our favorite recipe in our restaurant.
Check out this article I posted earlier for more information about cooking fried rice – “How to cook the best restaurant-style fried rice“.
The Chinese Fried Rice Recipe
- Cut the scallion into thin rings. Soak a quarter of it in cold water for ten minutes, Remove and drained. Use the other three-quarters for frying the rice.
- Mix the beaten eggs with the cooked rice.
- Heat up the vegetable oil over low heat in the wok.
- Saute the chopped garlic slowly. Once it starts to turn sticky and become light brown, remove it immediately from the oil. Set aside. Leave the garlic oil in the wok.
- Add the rice to the oil. Stir-fry the rice over low heat slowly until the egg is cooked and form a thin layer on each grain of rice.
- Add the fried garlic, the unsoaked scallions, salt, and pepper to the rice, stir-fry over high heat for about one minute.
- Change to low heat, add the premium soy sauce, mix well and dish out.
- Sprinkle the soaked, drained scallion on the fried rice. Serve.
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- Lodge 14 Inch Cast Iron Wok. Pre-Seasoned Wok with Flattened Bottom for Asian Stir Fry and Sautees
- Lee Kum Kee Premium Light Soy Sauce - 150ml (5.27 fl oz)
- McCormick White Pepper, Ground, 1 OZ
- KOVOT Asian Cuisine Ceramic Serving Bowl Set - Includes (4) 20-Ounce Bowls, (4) Oriental Spoons, (4) Sets Of Chopsticks
Serving Size:2 servings
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 619 Total Fat: 27g Saturated Fat: 4g Trans Fat: 1g Unsaturated Fat: 22g Cholesterol: 246mg Sodium: 1172mg Carbohydrates: 75g Fiber: 1g Sugar: 1g Protein: 16g