The first attempt at fried rice is always the most memorable. It’s also the one where you’re most likely to mess up. So it’s only natural to want to know exactly what kind of rice you need, what spices to add, and how to cook it just right.
Well today we’re going to take a look at what kind of rice you need for fried rice, and answer some common related questions.
What rice is used for fried rice ?
The best rice for fried rice is jasmine rice (Thai), as it has a firm body and holds its shape very well. It’s sticky enough so the grains will come together when using chopsticks, but not mushy.
In truth you can use any long-grain rice since it will behave very similarly to actual jasmine rice. What jasmine rice has over everything else is a slightly sweet, nutty flavor that is going to provide a nice background for all the other ingredients.
You can easily find jasmine rice in most supermarkets, not just in Asian stores or markets.
Is medium grain good for fried rice ?
If all you have at home is medium grain rice know that you can use that for fried rice too, but you need to be careful. It may not cook as well as jasmine when steamed. If you’re looking at medium grain go for sushi rice. It’s the traditional Japanese rice used in every Japanese dish. It’s sticky enough, just like jasmine, and will still keep separate.
It’s missing that nutty flavor, but you can easily substitute with a bit of sesame oil.
Is basmati rice used for fried rice ?
You can try using basmati for fried rice, though it may crumble faster than jasmine. You see jasmine is a little sturdier than basmati, because it cooks differently. Jasmine rice gets bigger as a whole, basmati mostly gets longer when it cooks.
Read also: Why Is My Fried Rice Mushy ?
However it’s got a very nice, nutty flavor that surpasses jasmine. When frying it will break apart quicker than other types, and it’s not as sticky as other rice types.
This may work in your favor if you don’t have day-old rice and have to use fresh rice. Just make sure it’s completely cold when adding it to the wok.
Should you use fresh or day-old rice for fried rice ?
The best rice for fried rice is day-old rice. This means the rice is completely cooked through, but has had a chance to dry out and separate a little.
If you’re steaming rice for tomorrow’s fried rice, remember to fluff it up after it’s done. If you leave it as-is, it will solidify into a single block, and you’ll end up breaking the rice grains.
If you use fresh rice, your end up with a mushy texture. There’s simply too much moisture left in the rice after it’s been cooked, even if you let it cool down completely. And keep in mind that when making fried rice you will need to add some extra liquid like soy sauce, and some ingredients may have water like mushrooms.
This is a surefire way of getting mushy fried rice. Plan ahead, use day-old rice that’s been in the fridge.
How do you get a smoky flavor in fried rice ?
Some fried rice is good, and some is downright excellent. A slightly smoky flavor is easily going to transport fried rice to flavor town. So, how do you get a smoky flavor ?
Well there are several factors or ingredient or ways, however you want to call them. It’s usually a combination of several of these, so let’s take a look.
- A restaurant wok is screaming hot, hotter than any pan your stove can heat up. This sears the food to perfection
- A dash of smoked paprika can really help with the smoky flavor
- Liquid smoke is a common cheat in some places
- Jasmine rice’s nutty profile can turn a little smoky under high heat
- A dash of sesame oil is easy to confuse with a smoky flavor
You can use any of these, even down to the wok. And as an aside, a wok is always going to give you better fried rice than a wide, shallow pan. It’s simply made to distribute heat evenly and can get much hotter than any pan ever.
Why does restaurant fried rice taste better ?
Whenever you’re at a restaurant or takeout place and order fried rice you’re bound to get something really delicious. After all, it’s what they do, right ?
But what do they do to that fried rice to make it so tasty ? We’re not talking about MSG here, we’re talking about technique, spices, some extra magic. Let’s take a look.
A wok helps, but you need high heat
As stated before a wok is essential to getting the perfect fried rice. It’s easy to fry the rice and do it quickly, you can get a crispy edge on anything, and it’s a hoooooot pan. No real cook would try frying rice in a plain pan.
But that’s not all. Your stove at home can only get so hot. After all, it’s not meant for trained professionals, it’s just for home use. A kitchen is always equipped with incredibly hot burners, some of them propane-based.
So it’s very likely that the perfect fried rice you ordered was cooked in incredibly hot wok over a flame that no stove could manage.
A restaurant has a wide array of spices to use
Another important point is how easy it is for restaurant to have a wide and varied selection of spices and herbs and dips and sauces, oh my ! It makes sense to have all of them, and plenty, because they use them every day for various dishes.
On the other hand you can’t possibly use up all of the spices you keep at home. Your spice cabinet is likely to expire before you go through all of it, unless you cook often and with a specific flavor profile to use up all of them.
A restaurant kitchen will go through soy sauce and Chinese 5 spice like there’s no tomorrow. And most often, not all the spices are listed on the ingredient list on the menu. Even if it says just ‘rice, oil, veggies, egg, soy sauce’ it may have a dash of smoked paprika, oyster sauce, and shiitake mushroom broth. You might never pick up on those notes when eating the rice, but they could be there.
So in short, you’d be hard pressed to match a restaurant’s ability to season and flavor.
The chefs really know what they’re doing
Aside form all this, skill comes on top. No matter what the kitchen is stocked with, a good chef will know just what to cook and how to cook it. It’s their job, after all. And most of them are very passionate about it, so this will translate in a willingness to learn new techniques and put out the best fried rice they can muster.
If you’re an aspiring chef as well you may notice their skill in the presented dish. You may notice that they decided to fry the rice just a bit longer, or added less water when steaming the rice, or used low sodium soy sauce paired with sesame oil to get a better flavor. And so on.
A good chef has creative license and will be very hard to emulate at home. We home you can make the perfect fried rice for your taste at home. There’s something so satisfying about nailing a recipe that makes it some much better.
Part of that is using the right rice, so try using jasmine next time you’re making it at home. If you’ve got any other food curiosities be sure to check the related articles below, we’re always adding more food facts to make your life that much easier.