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I've been living in California for about 14 years and really miss the Chinese fried rice I would get at Chinese restaurants on the East Coast (Boston in specific).

The fried rice I get at Chinese restaurants in California is much lighter in color and flavor. I thought adding more soy sauce would do the trick. There's definitely something else in the mix. The rice that I'm trying to emulate has more of a malty, savory taste to it.

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9 Answers

My fried rice started getting closer to east coast restaurant style when I started doing a couple of new things:

  • Use Chinese 5 Spice Powder - Like Indian Garam Masala, this is a spice mixture that is so common in Chinese cooking that it's sold pre-mixed. I've started using it in a lot of my chinese cooking. It makes a big difference.
  • Add a bit more soy sauce - This seems to be where most of your coloring comes from, so judge by look.
  • Use some sesame oil - I find sesame oil provides a nice flavor element in asian dishes.
  • Use more oil while frying the rice - I use a mix of sesame and vegetable or canola. This makes it quite a lot greasier than I was making it, but it's closer to restaurant style.
  • Let the rice sit while frying - Once the rice is in the wok, I don't stir it too much. This lets some of the rice on the bottom get a bit more fried than if you stir frequently.

Hope one of those helps.

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I have a feeling the 5 spice powder might just be what I'm looking for. Also, do you know anything about thick soy sauce? Could this be something that is used in fried rice as well? –  raji Aug 26 '10 at 21:05
    
Thick or dark soy sauce is often pretty sweet because it contains molasses (often sold as kecap manis in Thai markets). It might be really nice in fried rice, but be aware of the sweetness before you start. –  bikeboy389 Dec 14 '10 at 18:36
    
Does the 5 spice powder give it a smoky kind of flavor? Or perhaps that's from the heat? –  milesmeow Dec 2 '12 at 21:28
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A basic ingredient of Chinese fried rice which nobody seems to be aware of is stock. That's right, you heard me right. Chinese fried rice is made with stock.

I kid you not. You should consider it an indispensable ingredient.

You can make a simple stock out of a stock cube and some hot water. You add the stock after you put the rice in the frying pan/wok.

Another basic ingredient is scrambled eggs. You should fry these separately from the rest of the ingredients and add them at the end of the cooking.

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1+ although don't you mean stock rather than soup? –  Willbill Aug 26 '10 at 10:55
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Can you elaborate? Approximately how much stock-to-rice? Do you add it immediately, or after the rice has fried for a while? –  Bob Aug 26 '10 at 14:55
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What you're missing is monosodium glutamate (a.k.a. MSG, Accent, or flavour enhancer). Trust me: my girlfriend is from Hong Kong. Using stock, as The Galloping Gourmet suggested, is right on the money as most commercial stock contains MSG.

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It's molasses, not more soy sauce, that you're after.

Use day-old rice and start with 1 teaspoon of molasses (less if the amount of rice is small), and add more to taste. You can always add more molasses but not take away, so be careful.

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Does molasses give it the slight smoky flavor? That is one thing that I've noticed about restaurant fried rice. I could never get that nuance at home. Or perhaps my burners are not hot enough. –  milesmeow Dec 2 '12 at 21:29
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They use DARK soy sauce. One tablespoon per 3 cups rice is ideal. Stores like Whole Foods and Central Market carry it.It makes the rice much darker. Also, add large pieces of onion (1-inch by 1-inch) crispy tender. Some people add peas. Stir in scrambled eggs.

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It is molasses. I was told this by my fav chinese restaurant owner in Taunton Massachusetts (where I am from). My father likes it extra dark so he adds more molasses. It gives a sweeter flavor and dark brown. And they use pork rib meat with asso sauce (not spelling that right I am sure).

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Welcome to Seasoned Advice, Shelley. Your answer appears substantially identical to the one from rozzygirl, which was posted almost a year ago. If all you're trying to do is agree with her, the way to do that here is by voting up her answer. If you feel your answer is different/better, perhaps you could add more information to clarify? –  Marti Nov 5 '12 at 18:07
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Not sure about East Coast but I know as a Chinese-Canadian that Oyster Sauce is a traditional ingredient in most fried rice dishes. That would shortly explain the darker color and savouriness.

Source: My parents from southern China

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First, use whole grain par boiled rice. It is somewhat oval in shape. Do not use fluffy rice. I use garlic oil, good soy sauce, some oyster sauce and some MOLASSES, that is the secret ingredient. Add it all to the rice. fry up diced fatty pork then on a very hot wok add all the ingredients. Stir frequently for a minute or so. Add diced scallion.


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Try Maggi Asian Seasoning or Golden Mountain Seasoning.

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I don't know who originally did -1 on this suggestion but I've tried this too and it also very savoury. :) –  Pdxd Mar 24 at 13:51
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