Ever wanted to know the secret to cooking takeaway-style fried rice that is not clumpy ? Here we go !
How do I make authentic, Chinese takeaway-style fried rice? Mine always clumps together, and I can never quite get the flavours right.
Rob, Barrow, Cumbria
Dont beat yourself up, Rob, weve all had a stir-fry disaster or six. More often than not, its the pan thats to blame, says Andrew Wong, chef/owner of A Wong and Kyms, both in London. You 100% need a proper wok, otherwise youll have a hard time getting it hot enough. Extreme heat, he says, is the key to all good stir-fry, and a western frying pan, no matter how flash or expensive, just wont cut it (in an ideal world, Wong adds, wed all have a cooker fitted with a wok burner, too, which is admittedly a bit more of a stretch).
The other major cause of botched stir-fried rice is the star ingredient itself. It needs to be cooked, cooled and chilled first, Wong says. Steam or boil your rice a day ahead, leave it to cool, then put it in a covered bowl or plastic container in the fridge. If you try to stir-fry just-cooked hot rice, he explains, it will simply carry on cooking and end up turning into a porridge-like mush. The type of rice matters, too: Many Chinese cooks add some American long-grain to traditional jasmine, which helps prevent clumping, because jasmines so starchy in comparison. (He recommends a ratio of a third long-grain to two-thirds jasmine.)
Wong may have a Michelin star to his name, but he knows the takeaway trade like the back of his hand: he was brought up in a Chinese restaurant of the kind found on just about every high street in the UK (Kyms is named after his parents restaurant, which previously occupied the A Wong site). He adds a couple of teaspoons of vegetable oil to the rice cooking water, to encourage the grains to stay apart, and seasons the water, too, much as you might a paella. At the very least, it will save time and possible grief later. Whenever you stir-fry, he says, you must concentrate solely on that, so never leave the rice to sit and stew in the hot wok while you do something else, even if its as seemingly harmless as fetching the salt and pepper. The secret to all stir-fry is prep: get everything ready and lined up for action before you even think of starting.
Here is a Quick and Simple Recipe. Master chef John shows you how to cook the perfect fried rice at home. It’s quick and easy to make, customizable with any of your favorite mix-ins, from any vegetables to shrimp, and so irresistibly delicious. Enjoy the Music too 🙂
Fuchsia Dunlop, an award-winning writer and authority on Chinese cuisine, adds that a nonstick wok surface is vital, too: Season your wok every time you use it, she advises. This takes next to no time, and makes an enormous difference to the quality of your stir-fry. Get the wok very hot, add a tablespoon or two of oil, then swirl it around the entire cooking surface. Once its smoking, pour off the hot oil, add fresh oil and only then start to stir-fry. (Theres no need to do this if yours is a nonstick wok, obvs.)
Dunlop agrees with Wong that the rice should be cooked and cooled in advance. And it shouldnt be wet, either: it should be plump, but not waterlogged. She advises breaking up the rice as much as possible before it goes anywhere near the wok, too, so its easier to toss. Stir-fry in a little oil Not too much, or itll be greasy until the grains are separated and the rice is piping hot: its ready when it makes sizzling, popping sounds around the edges of the pan. And dont try to stir-fry too much rice at once that way, clumpy disaster lies.
As far as Dunlop is concerned, the plainer the stir-fried rice, the better, but if you want other ingredients vegetables, meat, prawns, etc she advises cooking them first, before tossing them into the rice to warm through. That applies to egg, too: lob that raw into hot rice in a scalding wok, and youll end up with scrambled egg, which, quite apart from anything else, will act like glue on the grains. Make a simple thin omelette, and break it up into the rice while its stir-frying.
Dunlop seasons her fried rice with just salt or light soy sauce, and adds a handful of sliced spring onion greens at the end: They make everything more delicious. For a final flourish, stir in a teaspoon or two of Chinese pure toasted sesame oil to bring it all together, but in a good way.
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