I just made fried rice earlier in a stainless steel frying pan to test the extent as to how much it will stick. I coated the pan with oil and initially placed garlic, then once the garlic was brown and aromatic, I added the rice. The rice sticked to the entire base of the pan and I already knew it was disaster then. Then adding an egg will compound this sticky mess and start to burn as they stick to the base of the pan and will taste like overcooked egg if left for long so I had to transfer the rice to a non-stick pan and just finish off.
I believe it is essential for the stainless steel pan to maintain some level of oil at all times else there will be nothing between the food and the pan which makes it stick. So what I think happened is that there was either not enough oil and/or the heat of the pan wasn't hot enough as well. It may be also possible that the rice absorbed the oil from the pan making the rest of the rice stick. But will that mean that each grain of rice should be coated will oil like in chinese/asian style fried rice? Typically each grain is shiny and the entire dish is very greasy. Another thing to consider is that the rice we used even if it was leftover from the refrigerator, it does feel a bit more starchy and less firm than those used in restaurant fried rice that I have eaten where there is a bite to it. The rice I used has great texture for eating as plain steamed rice, but probably not the best for fried rice. I do think it has a factor in why the rice sticked to the pan, but I am not sure.
Another factor is choosing the right pan. We almost always use non-stick pan (teflon I believe) since we often use minimal amounts of oil and don't prefer using lots of oil as it is not as healthy. Also, it was obviously easy and didn't end in disaster. When I think about it, I don't know of any other way I can make fried rice without a non-stick kind of pan. Traditionally chinese/asian restaurants will use a wok (I believe a carbon steel wok) that requires a seasoning to build over time to make in non-stick. But I would say, most households won't have this kind of pan to begin as well as the firepower to use them with so that means the pans of choice are often either non-stick (teflon/ceramic) pans, cast iron, or stainless steel. Cast iron is similar to carbon steel where a coating is needed to create that non-stick coating while teflon pans cannot use high temperature (which is often a must for good fried rice). I heard ceramic non-stick pans are not as non-stick compared to teflon but can withstand higher heat but I have never tried these. I doubt plenty of american households can maintain cast irons properly and the fact that it is was not built for stir frying due to its weight and shape, it is not ideal. Most likely the pans of choice of american households would then be either non-stick teflon wok/non-stick frying pans or stainless steel most of the time. So there is a huge dilemma and a trade off for every pan you use and there is a certain level of technique needed to be used to properly make proper fried rice.
What I want to know is what I did wrong why my fried rice became a total mess in my stainless steel pan. As well as the best way to create high quality fried rice at home that taste as good or close to the amazing chinese/asian restaurant fried rice.