Have you ever tried to replicate takeout fried rice at home? It can be pretty tricky if you’re looking for that delicious umami flavor and perfect texture on a whim. I’ve practiced making fried rice at home for years. Mostly just as a last minute dinner idea when I wanted something quick and comforting.
But it never quite turned out how I pictured it.
Usually a little too soft, way under salted and most of the flavor came from the veggies than the seasonings. It was still yummy, but just not the same.
So I was left wondering, what is the secret to restaurant fried rice? Years later here I am and finally decided to prep ahead of time to try and make restaurant fried rice and I actually got pretty close!
Here’s my fried rice method!
Type of Rice
Some restaurants use a blend of long grain and Jasmine rice, some use medium grain and many Japanese restaurants may even use short grain sushi rice.
Sushi rice is what I always go for. I love the mouth feel and stickiness of the sushi rice. It’s what gave me my almost perfect takeout fried rice!
How to Prep Your Rice
If you’re planning fried rice for dinner this week you’ll want to make your rice at least a day in advance. An essential key to takeout fried rice is using day (or days) old fried rice. This gives the rice grains a chance to firm up which makes it easier for the rice grains to separate when you fry them.
If you were to fry them rice after boiling your rice you would likely end up with mushy rice.
I like to make mine at least 3 days in advance just so that its guaranteed to be hard and cold.
The general rule of thumb for any rice dish is to always rinse your rice first. Rinsing it helps to wash away any extra starch. Especially with sushi rice. The extra starch could make your rice gummy while its cooking and sushi rice is already sticky in texture once cooked. So rinsing it just gives you the extra security of perfectly cooked rice.
For my sushi rice, I always use my rice cooker. You could make it on the stove, but a rice cooker is a lot easier. Just press the start button and let it do its thing. The Aroma Professional Rice Cooker is the one I have. If you want to learn more about it, click here for an article I wrote!
Once your rice is done, let it cool and then transfer it to a container to sit in your fridge until you are ready to fry it up.
When making fried rice the most popular kitchen accessory use is a wok. It’s what I always cook my rice in it never fails. But there’s a traditional method of magical art and science that professional chefs use to achieve that perfect every-time fried rice.
And its because they can achieve wok hei.
Wok hei is the science of high heat cooking, the art of knowing when to add your ingredients to that high heat and the magical moment when caramelization, the maillard reaction and a beautiful smokiness of the oil come together for a perfect stir fry.
At home, its pretty hard to achieve wok hei. Many professionals use actual flames in their wok to achieve this method of cooking but that can be pretty dangerous for a home cook. Instead, what we can do is make sure we have a proper wok and its accessories and a good high heat oil.
What Type of Wok to Buy
If you don’t already have a wok at home its a really great addition to your kitchen. Especially if you find yourself wanting fried rice or stir frys often.
I personally prefer either cast iron or carbon steel. For a cast iron wok, check out this Lodge wok that is built with a flat base so that you wouldn’t need to buy a stand. Cast iron anything is always a trust worthy choice. Its material remains non-stick as long as you keep it nice and seasoned and it can quickly get up to high heat temps and retain it.
Carbon steel is what I use at home. It’s also a loyal choice of material but with this Craft Wok you would need to buy a stand for it. Here is one for a gas stove! The only downfall is this wok isn’t suitable for electric and glass top stoves.
Alright, so depending on which cultural fried rice you’re making your flavors will be different but I’m sticking with the basics. I always grab butter, coconut oil, salt, pepper, garlic and onion seasoning, soy sauce or coconut aminos, fish sauce or oyster sauce and sesame oil.
I use coconut oil because it can withstand really high heat and I always have it in my kitchen. You can also use canola oil which is what most restaurants use. If you choose to use coconut oil just make sure its refined so that the coconut flavor isn’t overpowering.
Soy Sauce vs Coconut Aminos
We typically don’t use soy sauce in my kitchen because of gluten sensitivity so we are big on coconut aminos. Different brands can be incredibly salty and some more sweet. Bragg is a really popular brand which has a much saltier flavor but then you have Kroger brand Simple Truth which has an odd sweetness to it. I actually like to use a blend of these to achieve a good balance of flavor. However, if you’re sensitive to salt don’t follow the 1:1 ratio that Google gives you for soy sauce to coconut aminos. The best thing you can do is use 0.5:1 and taste as you go to achieve a flavor that you love.
Now I couldn’t tell you if restaurants use garlic or onion powder in their fried rice but I have a hard time cooking anything without these two seasonings. I LOVE the flavor of garlic and sometimes I even through minced garlic in my fried rice and I think the onion powder helps give a rich flavor without overcrowding the fried rice with actual onions.
One of my worst pet peeves is order fried rice takeout and it being packed to the brim with huge chunks of onions. It’s a big turn off for me. So when I’m making it at home, I opt for onion powder instead.
Fish Sauce and Oyster Sauce
There’s a certain umami flavor to fried rice and fish sauce plays a big role in that. You can also use oyster sauce, I just usually have fish sauce at home. If you’ve never cooked with this ingredient before, I’ll give you a heads up, its pretty stinky but don’t let that steer you away from it. It’s super good in most Asian dishes. The way it comes together with all the other flavors is pure magic.
At the very end once I’ve turned the heat off I like to drizzle a bit of sesame oil just to enhance the toasted flavor of the fried rice. It’s not required, but I enjoy it!
Tricks for Yellow Rice
Now if you’re more familiar with Chinese takeout rice you might notice its more yellow than other fried rice you’ve had. To achieve this is actually super simple. Before putting the rice in your wok, transfer it to a mixing bowl with two egg yolks and mix it then immediately transfer it to the hot wok and voila! You’ve got yellow fried rice.
Hot, Quick Fried Rice
Now remember, at home you may not be able to achieve wok hei, but you do have a high heat setting on your stove. Once your rice is a day or more old and you’re ready to fry it up pull out your wok and set the stove to high heat.
The trick to creating that perfect caramelized flavor of fried rice is letting your wok heat up all the way before adding your oil. This is unusual because most recipes instruct to heat the oil up, but trust me on this one.
Because this is a quick process, I like to have a bowl with my dry seasonings mixed together and a bowl with my wet ingredients mixed together minus the sesame oil.
Once your wok is hot add your oil and let it heat and then immediately add your fried rice. Give it a toss and then add your wet ingredients. Give those a toss and then add your seasonings.
Adding veggies or meat?
I like to cook these separately then add them in right before your wet ingredients.
Toss your right continuously and season with salt and pepper to taste.
Adding scrambled eggs?
Once you’ve tossed your fried rice where everything is combined push it up on the side of the wok and place 1-2 tbsp of butter on the top of your rice pile.
In the empty space of your wok, add a teeny bit more oil and your whisked eggs. These will cook fast so fold them quickly to scramble them. Once your eggs are cooked, turn the heat off and push your fried rice pile back down. Mix the butter, rice and eggs until combined.
At the end if you want to add sesame oil, now is the time!
I also like to top mine with furikake, sesame seeds or green onion. If you like yum-yum sauce you can make that at home and eel sauce is also super delicious on fried rice!
Want even more egg? Top it with a fried egg to go all out.
And those are my tips and tricks on how to achieve takeout fried rice! Does it taste just like the professionals? Almost! And it’s pretty damn close.
If you ever make fried rice at home what are your go-to ingredients?
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Remember to be brave in trying new things and always cook with a dash of love!
Until next time,
Haley | Creator of Haley’s Kitchen