Do this not that: Series 1, Part 2
Hello Friends! Welcome once again to the Do this not that series. Here, we learn the ‘dos’ and the ‘don’ts’ of the culinary arts. As I said last week, an excellent cook is not just one who knows a lot of cuisines and recipes but one who has a proper grasp of even the common ones.
We started with 10 mistakes to avoid when boiling rice, and this week, we’ll be looking at 10 tips on how to achieve the perfect fried rice every time! I’m sure you would know, Fried Rice is a popular dish made by boiling rice in chicken stock and stir-frying it in veggies.
A friend messaged me two weeks ago asking for some advice on how to make fried rice similar to the ones bought from Chinese restaurants. She had tried making it herself the day before, but the outcome was not satisfactory; the rice was clumped, and it had a soft and sticky texture. So, I gave her some pointers, which I learnt from my past mistakes and which I’ll also share with us today. Here is what I told her:
1. Choose the Appropriate Rice Variety
Can you still recall how the best fried rice you’ve had looked like? Notice how loose each grain was? Take note that the variety of rice that you use can make or break your expectations. Also, it’s better to use long-grain rice than short-grain rice when making fried rice because short grains have a greater tendency to clump together.
2. Be mindful of the stock you are using
The kind of stock (meat-water) you boil your rice in also matters. It’s best to use chicken or turkey stock because they have a milder taste. Beef stock most times overpowers the taste of the fried rice.
3. Be careful not to overcook your rice or your Veggies
Usually, this happens when the water you boil the rice in is too much. Ensure you don’t over-boil your rice before frying it otherwise, you will end up with soggy Fried rice.
Moreover, fried rice is best enjoyed when the vegetables are crunchy, so don’t over-fry the veggies.
4. Keep it simple
You don’t need 20 ingredients to cook the perfect fried rice. Make sure you have;
- Your rice
- Some aromatics (garlic, ginger, onions)
- Some veggies (carrot, green peas, sweet corn)
- Seasoning (curry, thyme, salt, stock cube and chicken stock)
- Vegetable oil; and if you like
- Some raw or cooked protein ( beef liver, shrimp, or pork)
Avoid using so many ingredients- just keep it simple!
5. Rest your Rice.
I mentioned the importance of ‘resting your rice’ last week and that is essential when making fried rice. If your rice is done cooking, make sure you take it out of the pot to cool before frying it.
Resting and cooling your rice allows excess moisture to evaporate, which also prevents the grains from clumping.
6. Note the vegetable oil you use
I’m not about to launch into a health talk on the importance of using healthy vegetable oils- not now anyway…lol. But do watch the brand of vegetable oil you use as well as the amount. The oil should be just enough to fry the veggies and the rice while making it glisten, so it’s not too dry.
Additionally, it’s best to use branded vegetable oil not the locally made ones. Most “local oils” have an aftertaste that can spoil the taste you are trying to achieve. Not to talk of the health implications.
7. Use a Large Skillet or frying pan
For fried rice, you want to use a pan that seems large, perhaps even extra-large, for the amount of rice and other ingredients you are using. This allows the ingredients in the pan to heat up quickly and evenly without overcooking and gives you plenty of room to toss everything together without the ingredients falling out of the pan.
8. Turn the Heat up
To achieve that nice coveted crisp, you will need to turn up the heat to medium or high during the frying process and stir continuously as you allow the rice to heat up. Also, the heat should be well distributed in the frying pan that you are using so everything fries evenly.
9. Perform the proper stirring or tossing technique
Frying rice requires the proper stirring technique (or tossing) to preserve the shape and texture of the grain. This also prevents the rice from sticking. The proper way of stirring the rice is to push the spatula downwards (45-degree angle) until the bottom of the pan is reached. You need to scrape the rice that is stuck on the bottom of the pan and toss so as to evenly mix all the ingredients.
10. Investigate other cooking Methods
Lastly, check what others are doing. If their methods or specific steps in those methods prove more efficient than yours, implement them! Just as you have probably learnt something from this article that I’m sure you’ll make use of next time. It’s the surest step to perfection!.
So with this, we’ve come to the end of not just today’s episode, but the first of our Do this not that series! We’ll continue another time.
For now, just watch out for series 2! Ideas are already rolling in, but if you have a particular cuisine, you would like me to talk about, comment to let me know.
See y’all next time. Stay safe.