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I have been trying to recreate the fried rice from a restaurant that I loved before moving. They were a Japanese steak house (called the Iron Chef), the type that cooks in front of you, and they made this incredibly saucy fried rice. It had this sort of savory perhaps umami taste to it that was so incredible. However I can’t recreate it. Other than their secret sauces and pastes the only difference from your average recipe is that they had larger chunks of zucchini in it.

I did try one of the internets self proclaimed best fried rice** recipes* but it was pretty flat and boring and toned down, even from your average restaurants version.

All the recipes I find for fried rice seem to be quite similar to each other and are meant to result in a much more toned down less savory and saucy result. Very few of them involve mixing in a sauce that is any more than just soy and sesame. Boring! Not only did the restaurant have some sort of paste but they also had a sauce.

How do I look for recipes that might be different and might be able to create a memorable fried rice like the one from that restaurant.

*it is worth noting that I did not follow the part of the recipe that asked for Shaoxing wine as I am underage and can’t buy that. That can’t be it right?

**Some people are reporting having trouble using the link so here is the ingredients list.

  • 3 tbsp neutral oil
  • 1 medium onion
  • 1 red bell pepper
  • 2 carrots
  • 1 tablespoon garlic
  • 1 cup peas
  • 1 tbsp ginger
  • 3/4 cups rice
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 cup Shaoxing wine or water
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp sesame oil
  • 1/2 cup minced cilantro

  • Salt pepper to taste

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    Did you use high quality ingredients? For example, if you use the cheapest soy sauce out there, you can't expect much of a result. Also note that there are different kinds of soy sauces. This of course applies to almost anything, soy sauce is just one example. Please note that you've linked a recipe that you need an account for to access. – Raditz_35 Aug 14 '18 at 9:54
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    en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Monosodium_glutamate is probably the most well known flavour enhancer. – Johannes_B Aug 14 '18 at 10:42
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    Replace dome of that wine/water with more soy sauce, for a start. The amount of salt/MSG/soy sauce in commercial fried rice recipes is shocking. That's why they taste so good (and I generally go easy on the salt) – Chris H Aug 14 '18 at 11:17
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    A sprinkle of MSG might be all you need to bring the umami flavor you are missing. Glutimates are natural. Contrary to longstanding myth...there is no Chinese Restaurant Syndrome, and MSG is not "bad" for you. – moscafj Aug 14 '18 at 11:32
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    Are you trying to recreate the fried rice from the restaurant, or just create a strongly-flavored fried rice? Those are two different questions. – FuzzyChef Aug 16 '18 at 13:56
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Shaoxing wine OR water, what nonsense is this? You will get completely different results with water and the wine.

As for your question: Add some Douchi (or black bean sauce), or Doubanjiang (if you want it spicy) for a focus on umami. I'd omit the cilantro altogether as well. A dash of rice vinegar might go a long way. Be careful though, since you've already added some acidity with the wine.

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  • What do you mean by a dash of rice vinegar? I’m new to cooking to in terms of tsp or tbsp would be useful for an idea – J.Doe Aug 15 '18 at 1:42
  • Depends on your personal palate, I'm afraid. Start with a teaspoon and have a try. – kraligor Aug 16 '18 at 11:52
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That list of ingredients looks totally fine to me, except for the suspicious omission of eggs, which are crucial to any fried rice dish. However, ingredients are not important for fried rice; you use whatever you like, and one can make absolutely amazing fried rice with just eggs and soy sauce. On the other hand, making fried rice requires a lot of technique, and practice makes perfect.

There are some problems that you may be making while preparing the dish:

  • your rice must be set aside for a while. You can't make good fried rice with rice that has just been cooked; the starch has to be at least partly retrograded or otherwise the rice will be too sticky, and the starch would not be able to fully engage in the Maillard reaction. Set the rice aside for a while or even overnight. Then, split the rice so that it doesn't lump together.
  • heat issues. Fried rice must be cooked on high heat; that's why teppanyaki restaurants can make tasty fried rice. Make sure that your pan or wok is hot enough. If your cooking utensil isn't hot enough, the reverse retrogradation (of the outside of the rice grains) will happen before the Maillard reaction, and that gives you soggy fried rice.
  • eggs are crucial because they provide a very strong aroma to the dish. There are many ways different chefs handle those eggs, but for a beginner I'd recommend coating the rice in the eggs (but not too many eggs, otherwise it would be soaking) before cooking.

If you pay attention to those, you'd be fine.

I wouldn't add douchi because fully releasing the flavor in douchi requires a good amount of liquid in the dish, and fried rice is a very dry dish. Rather, if you want some umami flavor, try adding fish sauce, shrimp paste, or XO sauce. Or MSG. No, they're not bad for you :-) If you want to add any soy sauce (or any sauce), make sure you add it when you're almost done. Otherwise retrogradation and Maillard reaction blah blah...you know the drill.

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