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I'm an amateur cook with almost no experience (never taught by my parents, first time cooking on my own was first few days living on my own), so I'm studying very hard because I want to be a great cook for the people living with me.

I'm trying to nail down the teppanyaki fried rice made at some very popular restaurants that I've visited several years back.

It seems that I'm definitely missing something with the technique. The meat and veggies I have no problem with. I cut up the chicken or beef into strips and cook it in the pan with a moderate amount of teppanyaki sauce, and it turns out great.

For the rice, what I do is cook jasmine rice (in a stock made with chicken bouillon) a day or two ahead and keep it in the fridge. I cook on a large round stainless steel pan (I'm not experienced enough in cooking to be properly taking care of cast iron cookware) at medium-to-high heat (7-8 on my stove), and begin by adding the rice, vegetable oil, and some peas and onion. I mix these up and then add a decent amount of soy sauce until it's a decent color. I scramble the egg separately then add it in when it is mostly done, mixing it in with the rice and veggies. I then add the cooked meat and veggies last.

Two main problems:

  • The rice seems to stick together too much. It appears to be rather sticky in the fridge, but separates rather easily. After frying though, I have this big hunk of rice that sticks together with some other ingredients dotted within.
  • The egg flavor seems to get all over the rice. Even when I scramble the egg, the "chunk" tend to become smaller than I anticipate once I add this to the rice, and the flavor is much too strong compared to the rice or veggies.

What do I need to change to get this closer to restaraunt quality? I'm quite new to cooking, so I really don't know what to look out for or what to change.

Please note that I'm trying to cut down on sugar and sodium, so I don't want to add excess salt or soy sauce.

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    "I'm not experienced enough in cooking to be properly taking care of cast iron cookware" I strongly disagree! The stuff is basically indestructible, and dirt cheap. Just don't wash it with soap, and heat it on the stove on medium heat for 3-5 minutes after washing, then rub with a little canola or veggie oil. Boom, done. No cooking experience needed :) – Matt Ball Oct 4 '14 at 17:05
  • Agree with Matt Ball about cast iron: Super easy. Just avoid temperature shock to prevent cracking. Warm on low heat first before cranking up the fire. Never dunk hot pan into cold water. For cleaning, avoid removing off the blackened layer. Soak anything stuck, then scrub lightly with paper towel and maybe dry salt. – Basil Bourque Oct 4 '14 at 21:46
  • Might help to add egg at the last rather than before veggies and meat, it might not break up as much. Not sure, though. – Megha Apr 30 '17 at 22:32

13 Answers 13

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This is based on what I was taught by a Chinese cook when I worked in his restaurant at age seventeen. Any compliments should be directed at old Tommy Wu. Any complaints may be due to my imperfect memory. His process was both similar and different in some respects from yours.

  1. Use day-old cooked cold white rice. Spending the night refrigerated will make it drier and easier to break up sticky clumps.

  2. Fry your scrambled eggs first and set them aside.

  3. Use a well-seasoned wok or pan with very little oil. Do not add broccoli, onions, or other vegetables at this point. They will be added after the plain brown fried rice is done to turn it into a specific dish.

  4. Dump the cold rice into a cold wok or pan and add your basic flavors on top of it. I remember the proportions and ingredients as being roughly 3-4 gallons of rice, 2 cups of regular soy sauce, one cup of thick black soy sauce, 1/8 cup of salt. These are rough guesses on my part since we did not measure anything precisely. The "cups" were actually big metal ladles and the salt was some amount at the bottom of the ladle. You would have to experiment to proportion it down for home quantities and to match your taste since you want to limit your sodium.

  5. Crank up the heat and get ready for a workout. A commercial wok makes an extraordinary amount of heat. I might use a cast iron skillet with high sides or a dutch oven at home. Either way the stove should be cranked up as high as it will go. The main thing that people do wrong when frying rice is that they are afraid of getting it too hot and burning it. You want to have your pan super hot but to keep the rice moving around to prevent it from burning. That is one reason why you should use very little or even no oil since it would smoke in this circumstance.

  6. Assuming you are right handed, take a metal spatula in your right hand and a metal ladle in your left. Use the spatula to scrape every inch of the pan repeatedly into the ladle which is a backstop. This is done with both arms moving in an upward "tossing" motion. If you have the heat high enough, you will have to work quickly and constantly for several minutes scraping and tossing. Don't neglect to scrape the far side of the pan or it will burn.

  7. Every thirty seconds or so, hold the spatula vertically into the center of the upward-facing ladle and hammer them down together over a variety of spots in the pan. This gets the rice hotter and really gets the browning effect you want. Only do this stamping for ten seconds or so and immediately get back to scraping or it will start to burn.

  8. After about five minutes, it should be steaming nicely, the browning will look cooked rather than merely dyed by soy, and your arms will feel like they want to fall off. Get the fried rice out of the pan quickly into a large bowl and then stir in your scrambled eggs. Since you are adding them at the end, they should not break up nearly as much as they were for you.

  9. Now you can eat it as plain fried rice or use it as a base for a fancier dish with meat or vegetables. This can be kept and reheated for a day or two if you want, as long as it is will covered. It is best kept warm (140 degrees?) in a steamer to keep it from drying out. If I remember right, we would cook the meats, vegetables, and mushrooms in a brown soy-based sauce first, then add the warm brown rice to that pan when the meat and veggies were done. That keeps you from cooking the rice twice and lets you cook those components in a way that is more suitable for them.

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    The type of rice is important - this post mentions white rice, many other types or even cheap white rice have lots of starch on them and go sticky in the pan (even after washing). – Brendan Oct 3 '14 at 7:16
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    Wow, detailed information in there :) I'm making more tonight so I'll follow this and see how it goes. Do you think a teppanyaki sauce would work decently in place of the thick soy? It's what I use for the meat and veggies, noticably thicker, but I don't know if the different flavor would add or take away from the dish. – Thebluefish Oct 3 '14 at 14:00
  • I would just try it both ways and see what you like. – Mike Oct 3 '14 at 20:13
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    Very detailed. I'd just like to offer some personal experience for home cooking: 1. If the stove is weak, pre-heat the pan. 2. The difficulty in this dish is one need to use max heat - so you need to think ahead and move fast. Get everything ready, and rehearse the steps in mind. 3. If the pan is heavy, tilt it 45 degrees forward with one hand, then use the spatula to "mix" it with the other hand. 4. For a more natural taste, cook meat ingredients first, then eggs. Timing is critical! – kevin Oct 4 '14 at 18:47
  • I finally got around to making this dish again (delayed due to lack of time) and it turned out much better following this advice! The egg flavor didn't taint everything else, and the rice turned out much better and the flavoring was more even. It's of course going to take practice perfecting it. – Thebluefish Nov 15 '14 at 15:21
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Rice

My aunty owned a restaurant for about 15 years (she's since retired) but when I once made the rice for her in the restaurant's cooker, she told me I had put too much water. I put in the same amount as I would for when I'd make rice at home, but she said that that's incorrect. For rice at a restaurant, it ought to be drier, i.e. less water should be added.

I usually make my rice "drier" at home too, putting in slightly* less water than recommended, and when it's fresh and hot out of the cooker (or stove), you don't really notice that much difference, until it's cold (when you do notice it's a bit harder than usual).

So maybe try adjusting how you make your rice in the first place and see if it makes a difference? Rice retains more of its shape this way, so when you leave it to cool overnight in a fridge, it'll be slighter harder than usual (and not as clumpy), which is desirable in fried rice.

*By slightly, I mean put in the usual amount of water, then (quickly) tip some out. I always guesstimate the quantity, but it's probably something like a few tablespoons of water for like three cups of rice or something. The water level goes down by like 2mm (something barely noticeable)? You may want to experiment.

Egg

How are you making your eggs? Usually the egg is thinned out by water (again, I guesstimate, but maybe two teaspoons to one egg?) before being scrambled. If you're not thinning them out, I would hazard a guess that's why the flavour is so much stronger in comparison.

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Try spreading the rice on a tray and letting it cool briefly, just a couple of minutes, turning gently a couple of times to free the steam. Then cover with plastic wrap and pop in the fridge overnight. It will dry out and any clumps can be gently pressed out with the back of a spoon or similar.

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    The best rice for frying is dry. Fridges dry food out. So it's actually best to leave the rice uncovered. – ElendilTheTall Oct 3 '14 at 9:08
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In my experience, it sounds like you're doing a lot of things right. Having cold day-old rice is key, and I also gently scramble the egg separately and then add it at the very end, tossing to combine it gently with the rest. This is just how I do it, but I add things in a different order than you list, though: first thing, I make sure my pan is as hot as I can get it. Restaurants have a much higher BTU than home appliances, which is how they can get that special flavor and look. Then, I add the oil and make sure it's hot and shimmering (but not smoking!) before I add the next thing, which typically for me is the onions. once those are looking golden or even a bit brown on the edges, I add the harder veggies (like broccoli and carrots), then after a few minutes add softer veggies like peas. Only at the end do I add the rice, egg and sauce, and then I really keep things moving and keep it on the heat only long enough to get hot before serving it.

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It sounds like you're most of the way there, you cook the rice ahead of time and put it in the fridge, which is good as fresh rice doesn't stir fry as well. Your prep for everything else seems sound. One step I would recommend is breaking the rice up with a fork or back of a large spoon to get rid of any clumps.

I think it's how you are doing the egg that's the problem. The egg needs to be fully cooked and uncooked egg is going to act as a glue, making it stick together. Try cooking the egg completely though using an omelet technique instead of scrambling.

IMO cookware isn't as important as heat when making fried rice, I've made great fried rice in the cheapest of pans with enough heat output. That being said if you want to cook lots of asian dishes a wok would be a good investment. You can pick up inexpensive non-stick ones pretty easily, or you could get one from a restaurant supply. If you have an asian supermarket nearby they'll have a selection too.

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The rice seems to stick together too much.

Try washing your rice more (water should run clear.) Also, cook it until just al dente, ever so slightly under-cooked from what you would serve at the table.

For the eggs, I move the rice and veg to once side of the wok after it has fried, add a bit of fresh oil to the clean side, and break and scramble the eggs in the clean side mixing them in only as they are just almost set.

As a final step, add in seasoning/soy sauce/etc. Good luck!

  • Welcome to Seasoned Advice! :) – Cindy Oct 4 '14 at 17:06
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I cook fried rice quite often and it never gets sticky (I did it just this morning). Probably the problem is that you cook the rice too much: You should stir fry the vegetables first and when ready add the meat and rice.

For the eggs covering all the other flavour, I'm not really sure. How many eggs do you put in? I cook it with the vegetables: in the pan, move the vegetables (already cooked or almost) on a side and crack in the egg. When is well cooked mix with the vegetables, add the meat and the rice. Season with soy sauce.You should use dark soy sauce, as it's a bit thicker then the light one and keeps the rice dryer. Be careful that the dark sauce has a fuller flavour so you may want to use less.

Finally, if you want to add a kick to your rice, try adding some Chinese 5 Spice Mix.

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I think an easy way of having dry non sticky fried rice is to use a different kind of rice: Jasmine rice does have this sticky quality.(though cooking with less water than usual helps). Try your fried rice using "Basmati rice". This has similar flavors as Jasmine rice- but is non sticky. Also, while cooking fried rice, I usually first cook the rice about 2/3rd- the rest is taken care of while frying it.

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Sounds like your rice is too wet when you are cooking it. Are you cooking it with lots of stock or using the absorption method? The absorption method would be better for drier rice which is what you are looking for.

For the egg I would advocate doing what other people are saying and cook the egg separately then add it back in.

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I learned to cook rice in a Chinese cooking class in college and the method is reliable...

First, you have to wash it really well. Wash and rinse the rice until the water is clear. Do not use short grain rice as that is for sushi.

Measure the amount of water by using your finger. Do not worry about the amount of rice. No matter how much rice you have the water level should come up to the first joint of your index finger. That gives you about an inch of water. I have cooked massive amounts of rice in large pots using this method.

Let the rice soak in that amount of water for 30 to 60 minutes. Drain water and put rice into the pot it will be cooked in. Add the final inch of water.

Put the pot on the fire without a top. Boil on medium high until only large bubbles are showing. Put top on pot and turn the fire to the lowest setting. Cook rice until done.

A simple flavor enhancement is to add ketchup to the soy sauce used for your fried rice.

I scramble my egg first and then set aside. Next I add the rice and onions and stir fry until I get the scent of the onions. Then I add the meats or shrimp and cook until mixed well. Then comes the egg. Finally the soy sauce. Adding the ketchup gives it a distinctive Thai flavor. At least that's how we experience it in my area which is heavy with Asian restaurants.

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In my experience, you have to saute the washed rice in little ghee or oil for some time till you feel the grains are not sticking to each other and are crispy. Then add the required amount of water (index finger measurement is the best). If using presure ccoker, let 2 whistles come and then immediately remove pressure without opening the cooker for another 10 min. The rice will never stick.

  • I'm not sure what "index finger measurement" is. Could you tell us? – Chris Steinbach May 23 '15 at 9:43
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Note: as you mentioned Teppanyaki Fried Rice, ie Chahan. Chinese Fried Rice won't be referenced.

Problem 1.

Start with choosing a suitable rice, Chahan will use a short grain rice (aka uruchimai = ordinary rice, hakumai = white rice). It will usually be labelled as a sushi rice. Ultimately your choice on which grain you want, short or long grain. Just don't use a pre cooked or an easy cook (pre boiled) rice.

Hopefully it will be rice an 'old rice' (harvested atleast a year before), sorry no tips on shopping for old rice unless there is a production date on the bag. Young rice (This season's) will need less water to cook and will be a softer grain and may break during cooking or frying.

The rice will need to be washed of excess starch until the water is almost clear (around 3 washes & drains). Japanese rice is usually soaked in water from half an hour to two hours.

Use the absorption method of cooking and with some experimenting with the particular bag of rice used you can measure enough water for the rice to be cooked (ie no longer chalky in the centre, but not to soft or squidgy). The rice will need to be cool before use, so carefully spread out the rice without too much crushing as the hot grains are most tender. If you leave a gap in the centre the rice can cool quicker.

When frying your rice, let the heat transfer to the rice and only stir/toss the rice to stop the rice from burning. This will reduce any break up or mushing of the grains, but I am guessing the grains were too soft before they used for chahan.

Problem 2.

Beaten eggs are usually added to the rice and mixed to coat all the rice, evenly. The medium heat used and less stirring of chahan allows the egg to clump up before setting.

Alternatively scramble or fry a beaten egg omelette in a separate pan and break this into the large size pieces before you add to your chahan.

Be careful on the temperature of the wok/pan you are using, on a medium heat it will be easy to lose heat in the pan by over loading or over mixing.

There is alot of material on the internet for chahan, though as most things available alot of research and (imho more sifting) is required to guide you to your perfect chahan.

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How to make fried rice. I use jasmine rice. You should use day old rice but I frequently make rice the same day as making the fried rice.

Use a steel wok, heat wok, add peanut oil, stir fry your scrambled egg, breaking into small pieces. Remove from pan, set aside for later. Add more peanut oil, add your veggies and meat, I use onion, peas, diced peppers, mushrooms, diced ham or other meat. Shrimp can be used instead or in addition to meat. Stir fry adding water if necessary or dry sherry, when veggies are almost done, I add soy sauce and oyster sauce. Kikoman makes both in gluten free versions, low sodium soy can also be used, but hard to find low sodium and gluten free. I prefer chinese soy sauce over tamari sauce. Mix the sauces with the veggies and add the rice stir frying. Turn down heat so as to not burn the ingredients. Lastly add the eggs back into the fried rice. Sometimes, I add pineapple tidbits to the mix for a more Polynesian version.

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