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New York-Style Chinese Fried Rice


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The fried rice in Japan is better then anything I have eaten in the US, here they use mostly lard (some places use oil) and LOTS of it, combined with VERY high heat and some soy sauce, not a lot and of course a heavy sprinkling of msg.

soy sauce does have naturally occuring msg, but nearly enough to give the oomph of umami that manufactured msg has.

Kristin Wagner, aka "torakris"

 

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I think you'll find Kikkoman in use in lots of Chinese restaurants, at least in New York. And I think it's almost universally added to fried rice outside of the very top restaurants, which don't seem to be the ones we're talking about here. The fried rice you'd get in New York or London -- what I understand us to be trying to emulate here -- is a Westernized dish that you probably couldn't get for love or money in Hong Kong, China, or Taiwan.

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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Okay, but just to be clear, neither fish sauce, chiles, butter, nor sesame oil would ever likely be found in Chinese-restaurant fried rice. The question on the table here is how can someone reproduce Chinese-restaurant fried rice; not how can someone make fried rice that is good in general.

i have to agree with fat guy.

also, i've never heard of shallots, garlic or ginger in fried rice.

i'm chinese folks and i've never in my life used some of the things that are mentioned. i know that fried rice is a "leftover" dish in which you can throw almost anything...but there are limits :biggrin:

has anyone mentioned lap cheong?! chinese sausage diced is a great addition. you pre fry it in the wok and the fat that it gives off helps to flavor the rice.

i ditto the egg coating. that's what my mom does.

edited: just read rachel's and jason's posts and she mentions chinese sausage. i don't really agree with msg though. i don't think you need it to make good, restaurant tasting chinese food in general.

really instead of soy or msg...just make sure to season with a lot of salt. i also use green onions tossed in at the end of cooking.

Edited by alanamoana (log)
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I think you'll find Kikkoman in use in lots of Chinese restaurants, at least in New York. And I think it's almost universally added to fried rice outside of the very top restaurants, which don't seem to be the ones we're talking about here. The fried rice you'd get in New York or London -- what I understand us to be trying to emulate here -- is a Westernized dish that you probably couldn't get for love or money in Hong Kong, China, or Taiwan.

Well, you would think that, but apparently not.

Tonight I went to my local chinese take out place in Tenafly, Tea Garden. Unfortunately I came back with more questions than answers.

Quincy, the proprietor of Tea Garden, was kind enough to let me watch the cook prepare me an order of pork fried rice and General Tso Chicken. Quincy and the rest of the staff are all from Taiwan, and for the most part Tea Garden serves a Korean, Chinese and Jewish upper middle class clientele. Most of the dishes are Sichuanese or Taiwanese and they make their own noodles. For a takeout joint, its very upscale.

Anyways, into a firey hot wok with the burner going at full blast (they have a 100,000 BTU burner) they throw in chopped whole scallions and beansprouts and chan that up for a few seconds with a cooking oil blend. "this oil does not have strong taste. Some places use pure peanut oil, we don't like, goes rancid fast, flavor too strong".

Then he throws in the chopped diced roasted pork, chans that for a few seconds, and then throws in the rice. Its pre-cooked old rice, which is from the batch of the day before. "Must use this kind or it will be too sticky gummy" the chef tells me. Then he throws in a dash of soy sauce. "We use Kikkoman. Not cheap. 32 bucks a case in gallon container. Many chinese takeout use crap dark soy from China. Too many chemicals. Don't like." He then adds "We do Taiwan style. Cantonese people use too much soy sauce."

He then finishes off the dish with a whole beaten egg which coalesces into an omlette in about a half a second at the bottom of the wok, which he then tosses with the rest of the rice to chop it up a bit. He adds some cooked peas, chans that up for a few more seconds, and then the dish is then plated. The end product produces a rice with only a slight soy color to it. Note that no MSG was used.

The whole procedure I may add takes about 60 seconds in real time. At home, you're not gonna get the same results because we don't have 100,000 BTU wok burners. So that coupled with the fact that you won't have restaurant style roast pork (Char Siu in cantonese, and its no menial feat to make) in your rice probably attributes to that flavor that is missing in home style fried rice.

So basically what I learned is depending on the quality and ethnicity of the Chinese joint you are getting your fried rice from, the technique and ingredients are going to differ.

I may add that Tea Garden makes a really good fried rice, but its the "expensive chinese restaurant" variety which I guess is Taiwan-style.

I think we should attempt to do the same thing as I just did, but with a reputable Cantonese-American place. Last week I had the fried rice at King Yum in Flushing, Queens, which is the oldest operating Chinese restaurant in NYC (its now celebrating its 50th anniversary). They make the dark soy sauce kind there, and I must say it is a kick-ass example, as is all their food.

This sounds like a job for Eddie Schoenfeld.

Jason Perlow

Co-Founder, The Society for Culinary Arts & Letters

offthebroiler.com - Food Blog | View my food photos on Instagram

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I tried using Kikkoman to make fried rice dark once - big failure. It was impossible to use enough of it to make the rice as dark as what I had at the restaurant. It would have been fried rice soup, only the rice still would have been pale brown, not dark brown. I almost wondered if they use something like Kitchen Bouquet, Cantonese version, plus an ungodly amount of fat. Pork fat sounds right - I know I didn't taste peanut oil. I wonder if "crap dark soy from China" is the secret?

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char siu isn't that difficult to make...with the right mix... :smile:

actually we use "noh" brand powder which comes in an envelope similar to taco seasoning. usually available at most chinese/asian type markets.

i guess you'd use butt or some such fatty piece of pork cut into 1.5"-2" square strips. marinate in powder following instructions on package. bake in oven until done. that's what i remember as a kid.

i guess then you can dice it and use it in fried rice!

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I would be interested to know outside of North America(specifically in Asia), what brand of soy sauce do the Chinese restaurants use(for cooking and/or dipping sauce at the dining tables).

-------

Steve

We have a fair amount of Cantonese immigrants who came to Calcutta decades ago and introduced their cuisine to Indians. First came the eating 'houses' which slowly evolved into restaurants as their cuisine became popular among the locals.

The original Cantonese style has today evolved into an amalgam that would be more Szechwan than anything else, I guess this is due to our penchant for Chillies. Indo-Chinese is a style that finds takers among the Indian diaspora the world over and even die hard Tandoori restaurants in India have it on their menus. Many Indians turn up their noses when confronted with authentic cuisine.

The real Mc Soy :laugh:

Coming back to Steve's query, I've done a fair amount of travelling in South east asia and fried rice is different everywhere. Empirically, I can tell you that it is the soy sauce which you cannot substitute.

So to recreate Fried Rice restaurant (Indo-Chinese) style, I would perforce have to use one of the two Indian brands which were probably formulated in a Chinese immigrant's backyard years ago.

I cannot use this soy (suddenly awful) to make Hainanese Chicken or stir fried beef and Kai Lan because I try to recreate the Hongkong version. So I use a brand called Green Bamboo, the label says that it is 100% naturally brewed from Soy bean and Wheat and it comes from a company at No. 345 North Friendship street, Shijiazhung, China.

If I didnt have this I would have used Kikkoman which also works well and the fancier restaurants have also adopted this. Now there will be a new generation of diners who will have a different reference standard.

And oh yes, big burners, day old rice and MSG are a must here also!

I fry by the heat of my pans. ~ Suresh Hinduja

http://www.gourmetindia.com

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(they have a 100,000 BTU burner)

Amazingly, 100,000 is like the minimum acceptable BTU/hr rating for a commercial wok burner. The baseline seems more often to be 125,000 and the local place I used to go (before it lost its lease) had a water-cooled unit from Imperial Range that had those 32-tip jet burners at 160,000. Downtown at the restaurant supply places I've seen wok burners that are in the 200,000 category and I've heard tell of these new-fangled burners that are built on a concrete foundation with turbine-driven air intakes tunnels that crank well in excess of that.

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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(they have a 100,000 BTU burner)

Amazingly, 100,000 is like the minimum acceptable BTU/hr rating for a commercial wok burner. The baseline seems more often to be 125,000 and the local place I used to go (before it lost its lease) had a water-cooled unit from Imperial Range that had those 32-tip jet burners at 160,000. Downtown at the restaurant supply places I've seen wok burners that are in the 200,000 category and I've heard tell of these new-fangled burners that are built on a concrete foundation with turbine-driven air intakes tunnels that crank well in excess of that.

Just for reference, here's an outdoor unit rated at 185,000 BTU. Probably not suitable for an NYC fire escape landing, but surbanites with concrete patios might benefit.

fish fryer

Dave Scantland
Executive director
dscantland@eGstaff.org
eG Ethics signatory

Eat more chicken skin.

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(they have a 100,000 BTU burner)

Amazingly, 100,000 is like the minimum acceptable BTU/hr rating for a commercial wok burner. The baseline seems more often to be 125,000 and the local place I used to go (before it lost its lease) had a water-cooled unit from Imperial Range that had those 32-tip jet burners at 160,000. Downtown at the restaurant supply places I've seen wok burners that are in the 200,000 category and I've heard tell of these new-fangled burners that are built on a concrete foundation with turbine-driven air intakes tunnels that crank well in excess of that.

I assumed it was at least 100,000, I didn't ask. My bad. There were big ass flames shooting out of it and up the sides of the wok and I saw the guy almost get singed when they went like 2 feet into the air. He has 4 wok burner stations jammed into that takeout kitchen.

Jason Perlow

Co-Founder, The Society for Culinary Arts & Letters

offthebroiler.com - Food Blog | View my food photos on Instagram

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Jason, what is the precise meaning of the verb "to chan"? Never heard that one before.

Its literally using a Chan to stir fry the food. A Chan is a metal chinese spatula. Kind of like a flat shovel shaped thing.

The chan is the spatula-like object next to the wok in this picture. It has a curved front so that it slides over the concave surface of the wok when you are stir frying. The sides of the chan have a lip to catch the food, so its more shovel-like than a regular spatula is.

The one in the picture is a fancy one, I use a regular steel chan that came with our wok set that we bought in chinatown.

Jason Perlow

Co-Founder, The Society for Culinary Arts & Letters

offthebroiler.com - Food Blog | View my food photos on Instagram

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The way it's done in my family:

Leftover rice, oil, garlic, minced scallions, mushroom soy. (The mushroom soy is my preference.)

Maybe some Chinese sausage if I'm feeling kinky. NEVER any egg.

I should add that I am of Filipino-Chinese ancestry, born in the Philippines but raised for the most part here in the U.S. (in response to alanamoana's post about his/her background on page 1 of this thread). My family likes to keep things relatively simple when it comes to fried rice.

Soba

Edited by SobaAddict70 (log)
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There were big ass flames shooting out of it and up the sides of the wok and I saw the guy almost get singed when they went like 2 feet into the air.

That's a must in any good Chinese cooking/restaurant. The heat that's involved is part of the "wok hey".

Edited by JC (log)
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I dunno, is there really much MSG in soy sauce? The kind we use at home is the Japanese-made Kikkoman general purpose stuff... should we be using a Chinese type? I've seen them in asian food stores but they seem to be fairly low quality. Or is that the flavor we are looking for?

I wouldn't think there is much at all. My mother is extremely allergic to MSG (Anaphylacticly) and uses soy sauce (kikkoman or lee kum kee) on a daily basis in her cooking.

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My mother is extremely allergic to MSG (Anaphylacticly) and uses soy sauce (kikkoman or lee kum kee) on a daily basis in her cooking.

As far as I know, there's no difference in terms of how the body treats free glutamate from different sources -- it doesn't matter if it's in a tomato or soy sauce or Accent. If that's the case then you mother's sensitivity is either dosage-related (i.e., several hundred milligrams are necessary to trigger anything, so it wouldn't likely be triggered without the presence of concentrated MSG used as an additive) or it has been mis-diagnosed (in which case it would be important to see an allergist because if the anaphylactic response was due, for example, to peanut oil or shellfish or whatever it would be important to know that).

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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My mother is extremely allergic to MSG (Anaphylacticly) and uses soy sauce (kikkoman or lee kum kee) on a daily basis in her cooking.

As far as I know, there's no difference in terms of how the body treats free glutamate from different sources -- it doesn't matter if it's in a tomato or soy sauce or Accent. If that's the case then you mother's sensitivity is either dosage-related (i.e., several hundred milligrams are necessary to trigger anything, so it wouldn't likely be triggered without the presence of concentrated MSG used as an additive) or it has been mis-diagnosed (in which case it would be important to see an allergist because if the anaphylactic response was due, for example, to peanut oil or shellfish or whatever it would be important to know that).

She's been through a littany of tests from her doctor and allergists. The results have been debated by doctor's on both sides of the family and based on their (and other) opinions, they credit her allergic reaction to MSG.

The reaction is not as severe as Anaphylactic shock , mostly swelling along with some other symptoms. She hasn't a reaction in a while either due to the fact the problem places may have used excessive amounts or her body has adapted over time.

Edited by GordonCooks (log)
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the cooks at my parents' restaurant use for the seasoning a little salt, MSG, and soy sauce. huge quantities of soy sauce. but my mom told me that the soy sauce they use at the restaurant comes in buckets (they buy it from a restaurant supply store) and costs less than the good soy sauce we use at home. why? people like the color it adds, but it doesn't have much flavor. my mom referred to it as food coloring. so that's probably why it's harder to get it as dark as restaurants. you need crappier soy sauce. :raz:

whenever my mom cooked fried rice for me or my siblings, though, she would use salt as seasoning and no soy. i actually like it better that way.

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Although I can't add to the authenticity discussion, I do want to thank everyone for all the fried rice info. I had leftover rice in the fridge so I fried it with peanut oil, garlic, a little ham, peas, soy sauce, and an egg at the end. Fantastic lunch!

But I am curious about different soy sauces (perhaps this deserves its own thread). When I go to the oriental grocery, there are a dozen different brands, some expensive (the common brands such as Kikkomen) and others cheap. Ingredients lists are all similar (no excess chemicals). So I figured that I should get the brands I've never heard of to get a more authentic flavor. Good idea or bad? I have gotten at least one bad bottle (really oxidized, like bad beer or wine), but others seem OK. Is there a concensus on soy sauce? Do some brands do better with some dishes than others?

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We've had some interesting Soy Sauce threads on the site before.

http://forums.egullet.org/index.php?act=ST...ST&f=19&t=22120

http://forums.egullet.org/index.php?act=ST...T&f=19&t=17775&

http://forums.egullet.org/index.php?act=ST...T&f=71&t=18720&

Basically with soy sauce, the first ingredient should be soy beans, followed by wheat, and then water, and you should avoid ones with alcohol and salt as an ingredient. The more expensive organic soy sauces that are whole bean should be used as a condiment or dipping sauce only.

The best advice is that you should buy a few soy sauces that are of good quality from different manufacturers and test them out, to find the one you like best.

The bottom line is that you can make a very good home style fried rice, but its basically impossible to duplicate chinese restaurant cooking conditions in the home, even with a semi-pro range. Its all in the wok burner and in the restaurant-quality roast pork.

Jason Perlow

Co-Founder, The Society for Culinary Arts & Letters

offthebroiler.com - Food Blog | View my food photos on Instagram

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