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New York-Style Chinese Fried Rice


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  • 2 weeks later...

Using a $2.50 5lb container of dark soy I bought from a local chinese supermarket, we made this fried rice this evening using chopped up leftover roast pork loin we made for the cubano sandwiches we had this week using the Toast N Serve:

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The rice was fried up in a chinese commercial wok oil blend. The rest of the stuff in it is scallion, julienned carrots and frozen peas and 2 eggs. A little bit of sesame oil was added at the end.

This tasted a lot closer to the one you get in a old-style American chinese restaurant. The type of soy sauce used is clearly half the equation and the high intensity wok burners (and restaurant-made roast pork with tons of MSG) is the other.

Jason Perlow

Co-Founder, The Society for Culinary Arts & Letters

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

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  • 11 months later...

I have been meaning to ask this, and since the thread on the roast pork mentioned it, I figured it's a good time. I love the traditional fried rice served in Chinese-American restaurants, what I think that Irwin (aka wesza) refers to as New York-style fried rice. The one where the white rice ends up brown. I like the one with "everything" in it. I have never been able to make it at home.

This is the info that I have gathered over the years, but I'm no closer to the taste I'm looking for:

All cookbooks I have seen avoid the issue by giving the more authentic Young Chow recipe. That's fine, but I want the non-authentic recipe.

At a restaurant here, which is very close to old-school American-Chinese, the owner told me she couldn't duplicate the fried rice at home. I started to think that maybe the very high heat of the restaurant wok is part of the recipe.

Shopping at a market in Philly's Chinatown, a young chef told me to use Maggi Seasoning sauce, instead of soy sauce.

But now I'm a member of egullet, where the real truth-telling experts are. Anyone know the secret or secrets?

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Definitely a dark soy, the thick and syrupy kind, combined with cubed Chinese roast pork (char siu). Use a decent amount of scallions, bean sprout and chopped up omelet. Other meats such as shrimp or beef or chicken is optional, but the Char Siu is key. No pork fat, no flavor. You can also use Lap Cheung chinese sausage instead of the char siu, and its really good that way, but it will be a different flavor.

However, you will not be able to produce identical results for the stated reason by your restaurant friend -- even with a "pro" style home burner at around 15,000BTU its no match for a restaurant wok burrner that hits around 100K BTU . However, it will be very good for home made fried rice, we probably make this at least once a month at my house. You need to cook each component in small amounts and in stages, though.

You will need to chan up the roast pork or sausage to release the pork fat, along with the whites of the scallions and the beansprout and hit it with a small amount of the dark soy. Remove it from the wok, then make the omelet and remove. Then put in more oil and chan up the rice (DAY OLD! DON'T USE fresh rice!) with more of the dark soy, and then when that is all done, re-incorporate the veggies/egg and pork and chuck in the green part of the scallions. You might want to throw in a handful of peas. The results will yeild something that looks like the picture of fried rice upthread.

Fried rice, as well as chow mein egg noodles, is really an excellent way of getting rid of the leftover veggies you have sitting around the house. I always buy scallions, beansprouts, etc and hit the chinese grocery every iother month for the char siu, I buy it in larger amounts and freeze it in vacuum seal bags. We always have the leftover rice sitting around from whenever we order chinese food, which happens a few times a month.

Jason Perlow

Co-Founder, The Society for Culinary Arts & Letters

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

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Fried rice with a hit of sriracha chili sauce and basil, and perhaps a little pineapple along with the regular stuff is good, but yeah, its definitely vietnamese. I wouldnt use the dark soy with that though, I would use a decent Japanese mardaizu instead and with a light touch.

Jason Perlow

Co-Founder, The Society for Culinary Arts & Letters

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

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Definitely a dark soy, the thick and syrupy kind, combined with cubed Chinese roast pork (char siu). Use a decent amount of scallions, bean sprout and chopped up omelet. Other meats such as shrimp or beef or chicken is optional, but the Char Siu is key. No pork fat, no flavor. You can also use Lap Cheung chinese sausage instead of the char siu, and its really good that way, but it will be a different flavor.

However, you will not be able to produce identical results for the stated reason by your restaurant friend -- even with a "pro" style home burner at around 15,000BTU its no match for a restaurant wok burrner that hits around 100K BTU . However, it will be very good for home made fried rice, we probably make this at least once a month at my house. You need to cook each component in small amounts and in stages, though.

You will need to chan up the roast pork or sausage to release the pork fat, along with the whites of the scallions and the beansprout and hit it with a small amount of the dark soy. Remove it from the wok, then make the omelet and remove. Then put in more oil and chan up the rice (DAY OLD! DON'T USE fresh rice!) with more of the dark soy, and then when that is all done, re-incorporate the veggies/egg and pork. You might want to throw in a handful of peas.

Fried rice, as well as chow mein egg noodles,  is really an excellent way of getting rid of the leftover veggies you have sitting around the house. I always buy scallions, beansprouts, etc and hit the chinese grocery every iother month for the char siu, I buy it in larger amounts and freeze it in vacuum seal bags. We always have the leftover rice sitting around from whenever we order chinese food, which happens a few times a month.

For the last few years, I've used only cooled rice, not day-old rice. What's the difference? My parents like using fresher rice, because it takes a lot less time cook. For me, it's fried rice with egg, ham, and shrimp. I would never think of putting bean sprouts in fried rice. And green peas? Ick! I don't understand why people put them in fried rice anyway.

Edited by Transparent (log)
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There are several schools of thought on the leftover rice vs fresh or recent rice issue. Basically, if you want to reproduce the texture of "NY Chinese Takeout Place" fried rice you use day old or older rice. I know other asian cultures such as Japanese and certainly authentic chinese places will use fresh or semi fresh rice when cooking fried rice at home, but the texture will be different. It has to do with the gluten, and yeah I think it interacts with the oil differently.

Jason Perlow

Co-Founder, The Society for Culinary Arts & Letters

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

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There are several schools of thought on the leftover rice vs fresh or recent rice issue. Basically, if you want to reproduce the texture of "NY Chinese Takeout Place" fried rice you use day old or older rice. I know other asian cultures such as Japanese and certainly authentic chinese places will use fresh or semi fresh rice when cooking fried rice at home, but the texture will be different. It has to do with the gluten, and yeah I think it interacts with the oil differently.

Chalk up my vote for day-old rice. Fresh rice has too much moisture in it, whereas day-old helps give fried rice a crispy, more granular texture.

I find a slug of toasted sesame oil gives something approximating the taste I get from my local (Not particularly high quality!) chinese.

Carlovski, you hit the nail right on the head. You don't need to use too much sesame oil, just a few drops or the taste will be too overpowering, but it sure helps replicate that restaurant taste.

Shopping at a market in Philly's Chinatown, a young chef told me to use Maggi Seasoning sauce, instead of soy sauce.

I've tried using Maggi, but definitely prefer the taste of my fried rice with dark soy sauce instead.

Joie Alvaro Kent

"I like rice. Rice is great if you're hungry and want 2,000 of something." ~ Mitch Hedberg

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The other thing is that most of the Chinese restaurants use short or mid grain rice, not the standard "American" long grain.

There is of course the normal fast food fried rice with peas etc. The best fried rice I have had is from mom and pop Chinese restaurants where it's made with whatever left over they have. My favorite place rarely has peas since they are not common in most of their dishes.

They use cabbage, carrots, assort bbq meat etc. Basically whatever bit and pieces they have left over.

Never trust a skinny chef

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Re day-old versus fresh rice: It's not necessarily a fresh versus not-fresh question, it's a warm versus cold guestion.

When rice is cooked, it releases starch. There are two kinds of starch in rice: amylose and amylopectin. Short grain rice has more amylopectin and long grain rice has more amlyose. Amylopectin is stickier than amylose, which is why short grain rice is said to be "sticky rice." But amlyose is also pretty sticky, and well-cooked long or medium grain rice will still stick together when the rice is fresh.

When cooked rice cools to refrigerator temperature, the starch undergoes a process called retrogradation. This means, among other things, that the starch cells collapse, the starch crystalizes and the starch molecules realign within each grain of rice. The result is that the rice gets hard and individual grains of rice no longer stick together.

Since one would like separate grains of rice rather than clumps of rice stuck together when making fried rice, it makes sense to use refrigerated cooked rice. This usually means day-old rice. The hardness imparted by retrogradation also works to the cook's advantage in making fried rice, because it means that the rice will not break apart while it is tossed in the wok. Luckily, when the rice is reheated, the hardening effect of retrogradation is reversed.

--

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I like the retro kind too.  I've always wondered how the rice gets so dark, though.

The dark fried rice owes it's color to a type of food coloring that's based on molasses. Very thick stuff. You stir fry it into the rice (rice must be hot to pick up the coloring), let the rice cool off overnight, and make sure it doesn't clump up. As far as I know, it's not available for sale outside of Oriental restaurant suppliers. It comes in 5 gallon buckets.

If you want heat, use the burner from a turkey deep fat fryer like Alton Brown did. Just be sure to use it outside of the house.

For us it was oil first, rice until hot (if rice is too hard, add a bit of water and cover for 20 seconds or so to let the rice steam a bit, but not too much or the rice will be sticky), then add in scrambled eggs, chopped green onions, salt and MSG (optional), and whatever meat you wanted to add, precooked. Stir fry for under a minute after turning down the heat to medium and serve.

Edited by Singapore (log)

Be polite with dragons, for thou art crunchy and goeth down well with ketchup....

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It's apparent that each country has a different way of preparing "fried rice" in their region. I've had the opportunity to witness the preparation of "Old Style", darker colored fried rice in a Chinese kitchen years ago and rather than being immersed in trying to identify the secret ingredients, I was in awe of the cooking process that I'm sure would be difficult to duplicate in a home kitchen. The day old rice danced in the superheated wok and the chef's uncanny ability with wok and chan allowed ample airtime between the individual grains that I believe is so important to the preparation process. I was told though that only Chinese soy should be used to get the flavor and dark color of North American Chinese fried rice.

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Re day-old versus fresh rice:  It's not necessarily a fresh versus not-fresh question, it's a warm versus cold guestion.

When rice is cooked, it releases starch.  There are two kinds of starch in rice: amylose and amylopectin.  Short grain rice has more amylopectin and long grain rice has more amlyose.  Amylopectin is stickier than amylose, which is why short grain rice is said to be "sticky rice."  But amlyose is also pretty sticky, and well-cooked long or medium grain rice will still stick together when the rice is fresh.

When cooked rice cools to refrigerator temperature, the starch undergoes a process called retrogradation.  This means, among other things, that the starch cells collapse, the starch crystalizes and the starch molecules realign within each grain of rice.  The result is that the rice gets hard and individual grains of rice no longer stick together.

Since one would like separate grains of rice rather than clumps of rice stuck together when making fried rice, it makes sense to use refrigerated cooked rice.  This usually means day-old rice.  The hardness imparted by retrogradation also works to the cook's advantage in making fried rice, because it means that the rice will not break apart while it is tossed in the wok.  Luckily, when the rice is reheated, the hardening effect of retrogradation is reversed.

Day-old rice cooled to refrigerator temperature?? Shouldn't it be cooled to room temperature(not in a fridge)? Should the rice be uncovered or not, I'm not 100% sure(I've seen Chinese restaurants cool their rice uncovered, but maybe that's not the best way).

-Steve

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Day-old rice cooled to refrigerator temperature?? Shouldn't it be cooled to room temperature(not in a fridge)? Should the rice be uncovered or not, I'm not 100% sure(I've seen Chinese restaurants cool their rice uncovered, but maybe that's not the best way).

I'm not sure what temperature is required for retrogradation, but I assume it is refrigerator temperature. That's where I keep my leftover rice anyway. Not sure I'd want to eat cooked rice that had sat out at room temperature for 24 hours.

--

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The Mystery of "Fried Rice" as it's evolved in America is something that can be attributed to the "New York City" evolution of Cantonese Restaurant's that apparently began in Shanghai sometime in the 1920's.

Fried Rice, Egg Fu Yong, Shrimp in Lobster Sauce, Lobster Cantonese. Egg Drop Soup, Roast Pork, Spare Ribs, Lo Mein and Egg Rolls, Chop Suey and Chow Mein are dishes that became part of the East Coast Chinese Restaurants that were so popular for many years.

"Fried Rice" that is regularly served in authentic or conventional Chinese Restaurants is most common the "Yangzhou Fried Rice" also known as "Golden Rice". It contains no Soy Sauce or Oyster Sauce. In fact Salt is often added to the Rice. The Vegetables, Meats or whatever else that's added isn't specific.

The one common denominator of this kind of Fried Rice is that it's customary to Coat the Grains of Rice with Eggs. This is often done almost when the Rice and added ingredients are Cooked at which time a well is made into the center of the Rice and 2 pre-stirred Eggs are placed into the well and quickly mixed into the Rice Mixture afterward it's quickly plated and served.

In "NYC" or more American Style Chinese Restaurants it would have been prepared with since Onions, Scallions, Bean Sprouts, Shredded or Diced Carrots, Celery, Roast Pork, Shrimp, Chicken, Peas, Water Chestnuts, Egg and Dark or Regular Soy Sauce as well as Maggi Sauce. Originally some Garlic and Ginger was used because the Oil most common to Chinese Cooking was a inexpensive Peanut Oil that required the Garlic, Ginger combination to remove the Peanut Taste it was generally scooped out of the hot oil in the wok and discarded. One very common addition to many Fried Rices served is that often some rich Chicken or Pork Broth is added to enhance, moisturize and improve flavor to the Rice as it's being Fried under high heat in the Wok. It really makes a difference in the finished product.

Even in Seattle where I'm now living there are still several Restaurants that make the NYC Style Fried Rice and I personally prefer it to the Yangzhou Style served at most ethnic Chinese Restaurants.

The one type of Rice Dish that is popular in Shanghai Restaurants in Hong Kong and China that I haven't seen served in the States is the "Vegetable Rice" available at Dinner time that a favorite of Students, Vegetarians and many other customers. Has anyone else found this dish in America ?

Fried Rice is fun, make it your way, different every time. I never thought I could eat it made with Pineapple but now I've even seen Mexican Fried Rice.

Irwin :blink:

I don't say that I do. But don't let it get around that I don't.

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Day-old rice cooled to refrigerator temperature?? Shouldn't it be cooled to room temperature(not in a fridge)? Should the rice be uncovered or not, I'm not 100% sure(I've seen Chinese restaurants cool their rice uncovered, but maybe that's not the best way).

I'm not sure what temperature is required for retrogradation, but I assume it is refrigerator temperature. That's where I keep my leftover rice anyway. Not sure I'd want to eat cooked rice that had sat out at room temperature for 24 hours.

Thanks for your feedback. I was thinking of overnight(at room temperature).

-Steve

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  • 1 year later...

Nothing posted on this topic for a while, but I have a couple fresh questions that I haven’t seen mentioned before …

1) Wok Flame, and its role in getting classic NY-takeaway-style rice: I have a wok burner and a well seasoned wok, and have finally managed to get some serious flame action happening not just up the side of the wok but actually into the contents/inside the bowl of the wok itself. I’d been trying to make char hor fun/rice noodles, but could never ‘set them on fire’, even tho I always chuck in a bit of strong Chinese rice wine. I finally mastered it, by seriously tipping the wok full-on into the burner flame… I just hadn’t had the guts to tip it that far, but when I did, it did the trick. Exhilirating! (My wife would use another word …).

But now, when it comes to rice, it doesn’t seem right to add Rice Wine… so maybe “flame inside the bowl” isn’t required for the taste we’re all looking for? Seems like getting the flames actually inside would help get me closer, but the rice wine taste wouldn’t. What do you think?

2) Other question is about the egg… I’ve always found that when raw egg is added to rice, even in a hot wok, and then mixed in (even if allowed to set a bit), you get a sheen or gumminess to the rice, as the raw egg adheres to the rice and alters the texture. All the NY style rice I’ve had has been much "drier", and the egg a much more separate, solid component. But I see lots of suggestions to add the egg and mix it up with/into the rice, rather than cook a separate omelette and add it as its own ingredient, later.

Hope you have ideas, I am going to give it another go tonight. I have recreated lots of chinese recipes to great satisfaction, but never this all-important one. I know it can be done…

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Nothing posted on this topic for a while, but I have a couple fresh questions that I haven’t seen mentioned before …

1) Wok Flame, and its role in getting classic NY-takeaway-style rice:  I have a wok burner and a well seasoned wok, and have finally managed to get some serious flame action happening not just up the side of the wok but actually into the contents/inside the bowl of the wok itself. I’d been trying to make char hor fun/rice noodles, but could never ‘set them on fire’, even tho I always chuck in a bit of strong Chinese rice wine. I finally mastered it, by seriously tipping the wok full-on into the burner flame… I just hadn’t had the guts to tip it that far, but when I did, it did the trick. Exhilirating! (My wife would use another word …).

I'm not sure what's your goal here. That feels quite wrong in terms of getting the desired texture. Fried rice is not a flambe, it's just what it sounds like. Fried. The proper American analogue is a hash.

The wok hay you see mentioned is *not* flame. A decentish literal translation is "the breath of the wok". A good analogy is properly done french fries. You want them right after they come out of the fryer, when they're so hot they nearly scorch your fingers, and you have that perfect balance between the crisp and the steam and the starch. French fries on fire, wrong. French fries sizzling hot and trying to burn you, just right. Note that as near as I can tell, all stir fried dishes should have wok hay if you're Cantonese. Not just fried rice.

2) Other question is about the egg… I’ve always found that when raw egg is added to rice, even in a hot wok, and then mixed in (even if allowed to set a bit), you get a sheen or gumminess to the rice, as the raw egg adheres to the rice and alters the texture. All the NY style rice I’ve had has been much "drier", and the egg a much more separate, solid component. But I see lots of suggestions to add the egg and mix it up with/into the rice, rather than cook a separate omelette and add it as its own ingredient, later. 

Your problem here is not enough heat. As it states earlier in the thread (and I can attest they're right from much experience), you need at least a 100,000 BTU wok burner to prepare restaurant style fried rice. You can come a *bit* closer with a 20,000 BTU burner and a heavy, preheated cast iron pan, but it will never be just like the dish as prepared on the higher output burner.

The raw egg added directly to the rice does work, if you have high enough heat. You end up with something rather like "velveted" rice grains. I've never managed the effect at home, tho it does work nicely one some restaurants' rice.

IME, you can prepare a fairly close to restaurant style fried rice at home on a low BTU burner in suitable quantities for one fairly small appetite. If you wish to feed more than one person, you're screwed. If you can live with home-style fried rice, then you're fine again.

Emily (who *does* use ginger, but only because ginger is a vegetable in her household, and of course you use extra veggies in your fried rice)

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