Top Tips for Easy Fried Rice
Admittedly, I have always sucked at frying rice. My fried rice usually turns out too mushy, or too dry, or too salty. It's only on the rare occasions that I get fried rice that is just passable. My ineptness at cooking fried rice never really bothered me, until I met the husband who counts fried rice as one of his all-time favourite foods - Yikes. Despite this, I rarely cooked fried rice and as such we hardly ate fried rice at home, until recently when the husband himself mastered the art of cooking perfect fried rice. I am thrilled to share these fried rice hacks with you, all it takes is a few easy steps to take note of, and you will be cooking fried rice ALL the time, trust me.
Of course, the texture of fried rice is up to individual preferences but here in Singapore (and most other asian countries), usually when we have fried rice at a restaurant or food court, it is dry and oily and deliciously spicy. That is the kind of texture that is more difficult to attain as the stoves that the professional chefs have at their disposal in restaurants are way stronger than our home kitchen ones, and the powerful heat from these stronger stoves are able to cook and dry out the rice more quickly. At home, with heat that is less powerful, we would leave the rice in the wok for a longer time as it takes longer for everything to cook through and the longer the rice sits in the wok with the other ingredients, the wetter it gets. So here's the trick to prevent the rice from getting mushy - (1) Smacking and tossing the fried rice in the wok will remove any moisture and leave you with lovely perfectly-oiled and dry rice
Typically, cold, overnight cooked rice is used when frying rice as a night spent in the refrigerator will dry out the rice, making it easier to attain the perfect texture of fried rice. But when you smack, flatten and toss the rice over and over in the wok while cooking it, you can easily use rice that has been cooked on the same day or even just half an hour before you cook it.
Another tip to prevent the fried rice from getting too wet is to (2) cook the egg first before adding the rice into the wok with the other ingredients. Beat the egg and add it in with your choice of vegetables and protein and cook it through. Some recipes call for the beaten raw egg to be added onto the rice to coat it, but that will add another layer of moisture to the rice, softening it even more.
As for seasoning, when you add it into the wok is something to take note of. (3) If you intend to use wet seasoning such as soy sauce, tomato sauce, chilli sauce, sriracha, barbecue sauce, add it towards the end of cooking, ie after you are done with the smacking and tossing of the rice. When using paste-type of seasoning such as sambal, chilli paste, tomato paste, tom yum paste, add it before cooking the egg.
(4) The ultimate trick to cooking fried rice to perfection is a well-oiled wok and high heat. I'm sorry but the only way to have a 'healthier' version of fried rice is to use a healthier type of oil such as grapeseed oil, olive oil or coconut oil. Using less oil to fry rice will result in the rice sticking to the wok, and we definitely do not want that. So before cooking anything in the wok, heat it up first with 2-3 tablespoons of your chosen cooking oil and coat thoroughly. After cooking the vegetables, if it looks like most of the oil has been used up (some vegetables absorb oil more easily), add another tablespoon of oil before cooking the egg and rice.
It doesn't require much for you to cook the perfect fried rice if you follow these few tips. In this recipe, I won't specify the vegetables or protein to use, but in the photos seen here I have used carrots, cabbage, and red pepper for a vegetarian fried rice. You can use/replace with peas, corn, broccoli, long beans, bok choy, chicken strips, prawns, squid, sliced fish, beef. It really depends on what your tummy calls out for or what you have in your pantry.
I hope this guide has been useful, and here's to woks-full of perfect fried rice in your future! Happy Wokking!
Prep your ingredients by having the garlic cloves minced, slicing the onion and the other vegetables that you intend to use. I julienned the carrots, sliced the red pepper, and roughly chopped the cabbage.
Season the cooked rice by pouring the oyster sauce and white pepper on it (there's no need to mix it up).
Heat up a large wok and pour in 2 tablespoons of oil, when the oil is bubbling
(this means it is smokin' hot!), tilt the wok to coat the sides evenly and then gently add the garlic and onion. Take note that your fire should be on high heat the entire time, from the time you start cooking to the finish. Sauté the garlic and onions for about 30 seconds, adding in the medley of vegetables and sautéing those further for another minute or two, depending on what vegetables you have used - some take longer to cook than others, do remember to add the ones that take longer to cook first (eg. broccoli, red pepper, long beans). **If you want to use any paste-like seasoning like sambal belacan, tomato paste, tom yum paste, add that in now and combine thoroughly. Next, make a well in the middle of the mountain of veggies and pour the beaten egg mixture in. Scramble the eggs until it cooks through.
Time to add the star of the dish in - Add the cooked rice and toss to mix all the ingredients together. Smack and flatten the rice onto the wok and when you hear a slight crackling sound, toss it a couple of times, smack and flatten the rice again until the crackling sound is heard, toss it again - repeat this process until the rice has become dry, the number of times this action will be needed to be executed will depend on the original moisture level of the cooked rice (the wetter the rice is, the more times you will need to do this, the drier, the less).
Lastly, before you turn the fire off, season with either salt or a tablespoon of soy sauce, or any other sauces such as tomato sauce, barbecue sauce, chilli sauce, to taste. Throw in a dash of white pepper as well.
Serve with some chopped spring onions as garnish and sliced red chillies for a fiery bite. Hope you find this useful and that concludes my Top Tips for Easy Fried Rice post!