Fried Rice: Where Did It Come From & How Is It Made?
Fried rice is a dish of steamed rice stir-fried in a wok, often mixed with other ingredients, such as eggs, vegetables, and meat.
It is sometimes served as the penultimate dish in Chinese banquets, just before dessert.
As a homemade dish, fried rice is typically made with leftover ingredients (including vegetables, meat) from other dishes, leading to countless variations.
In Asia, the more famous varieties include Yangzhou and Fujian fried rice.
In this post we'll cover:
- 1 What type of rice is best suitable for making fried rice?
- 2 FAQ about fried rice
- 2.1 Is fried rice traditional?
- 2.2 Where does fried rice originate from?
- 2.3 Is fried rice white rice?
- 2.4 Why is my fried rice mushy?
- 2.5 Why are there eggs in fried rice?
- 2.6 Do you have to use sesame oil in fried rice?
- 2.7 Can you use olive oil to fry rice?
- 2.8 Which onion do you use for fried rice?
- 2.9 Can fried rice be eaten the next day?
- 2.10 Can I eat fried rice while pregnant?
What type of rice is best suitable for making fried rice?
Any medium to long grain rice will work amazingly in creating the best fried rice.
It is perfect since it will end up fluffy and not sticky once cooked, and the individual grains will continue to be firm and distinct.
What is the science behind this?
If we look into it from a scientific perspective, rice texture is determined by two starch molecules that make it either firm or sticky: amylose and amylopectin.
Amylopectin makes the rice grains stickier since this molecule is greatly branched.
On the other hand, medium to long grain rice has a higher quantity of amylose and less amylopectin when compared to other types of rice.
Finally, sticky rice (actually called glutinous rice, even though it has no gluten) has a higher amount of amylopectin and has 1 percent amylose at most.
It is perfect for when you need rice that can be easily eaten using chopsticks, but not for fried rice since it will stick together.
Can I use Jasmine rice?
The best type of rice you can use is medium to long grain as we mentioned above.
However, you can also use Jasmine rice and get fluffy rice that won’t clump together or fall apart once it’s fried.
As a matter of fact, many people prefer to use it over all the other types, since it features an aroma that resembles popcorn and also has a somewhat sweet and nutty flavor.
However, even though this rice is long grain it has less amylose than traditional long-grain white rice, which means it will still cook up to be a bit sticky.
Basmati rice, grown in India and Pakistan also has a distinct flavor and aroma, but since it has a higher amount of amylose it’s a better choice in this case.
In the end, it’s up to what you prefer to use so if you enjoy the texture of jasmine rice, feel free to use it.
For guaranteed results: use chilled cooked rice
Using chilled cooked rice is a foolproof way of getting perfect fried rice every time.
Actually, any rice you use should be chilled ahead of time preferably.
When making fried rice, fresh isn’t better.
Using sticky, warm, recently-cooked rice is bound to result in soggy fried rice and those distinct and delicious chewy grains will be far from what’s in your dish.
That’s why using chilled rice is so important.
So instead, try to cook the rice one day ahead of time and store it in the fridge. This will help dry the grains and make sure your fried rice has a good texture.
Think about this positively, this is a great way to speed up the process and have some elements ready ahead of time.
Making fried rice is actually pretty easy and quick so having the rice ready will actually work for you, not against you. So start out with cold or frozen, day-old rice.
Day-old leftover rice gets a chance to firm up in the fridge, making it easier for the grains to separate and reduce the possibility of the rice ending up being a big mush.
However, if you don’t have any leftover rice and are craving fried rice, you can also avoid having to wait until the next day.
Simply cook your rice with about ⅓ less water than you usually would and then spread the cooked rice on a large baking sheet.
Place this baking sheet in the freezer for about 20 minutes and then store the entire batch in a Ziploc bag for a couple of hours.
To make things even easier we have a couple of tips for you, so you can have some rice ready if you plan to make fried rice:
- Doggy bag leftover steamed rice that you didn’t finish at the restaurant so you can use it on fried rice the next day.
- If you’re cooking at home, make double the amount of rice so the leftovers can be stored and used the next day without having to make another batch.
- If you have the leftovers but aren’t sure when you’ll get around to making some fried rice, freeze it. If you freeze it spread out on a tray and then store and you’ll be able to throw it right into the pan and it’ll thaw right away. No big blocks of rice.
FAQ about fried rice
Now that we’ve come this far looking into fried rice, let’s answer some frequently asked questions.
Is fried rice traditional?
Fried rice is as old as 600 A.D so it’s safe to say it’s a traditional cooking style.
It has adapted and changed a lot since then and a lot of different ingredients are used as add-ins in the rice now.
Where does fried rice originate from?
It’s not known exactly where fried rice originated, and that’s because it was so long ago.
Dating back to the Sui dynasty in 589–618 A.D., in an eastern Jiangsu province town called Yangzhou. So the culture fried rice is from is Chinese.
Is fried rice white rice?
Contrary to popular belief, fried rice is made with white rice, not brown whole grain rice, and gets its color from the soy sauce used to make the dish.
Why is my fried rice mushy?
Rice gets mushy when you fry it straight after you cook it. To get a more textured and crispy fried rice, use completely chilled cooked white rice to fry with.
The best is to use cooked white rice kept in the fridge overnight to use the next day.
Why are there eggs in fried rice?
Traditionally, eggs were added to fried rice because it’s a peasants dish. Eggs were available to most of the Chinese people living off the land and are an inexpensive source of high-quality protein, and still are.
Do you have to use sesame oil in fried rice?
You don’t have to use sesame oil in fried rice. In fact, the rice isn’t fried in the sesame oil but in soybean oil (or you can canola oil).
The sesame oil is used for flavoring the dish, next to some soy sauce. You’ll only get that Asian taste by using some sesame oil though.
Can you use olive oil to fry rice?
You can use olive oil to fry rice, but it is quite heavy on flavor and doesn’t have a traditional Asian taste.
So, even though you can use it, it’s much better to use canola oil, soybean oil, vegetable oil or peanut oil.
Which onion do you use for fried rice?
You can use a yellow or red onion to stir fry along with the rice and other vegetables you might put into your dish.
Since Asian cuisine uses a lot of green onions as well, it’s a great idea to top off your dish with some fresh cut green onions.
Can fried rice be eaten the next day?
Fried rice can be stored and eaten the next day without any health risks, but only when kept refrigerated.
You should be careful with un-refrigerated fried rice, especially with eggs added to it.
A common illness called “Fried rice syndrome” or Bacillus cereus comes from eating fried rice left at room temperature for a few hours.
Can I eat fried rice while pregnant?
You can safely eat fried rice while pregnant and it’s a great grain.
Of course, you should eat other grains and foods as well to help minimize health risks and avoid eating rice uncooked or cold as a leftover.
Joost Nusselder, the founder of Bite My Bun is a content marketer, dad and loves trying out new food with Japanese food at the heart of his passion, and together with his team he's been creating in-depth blog articles since 2016 to help loyal readers with recipes and cooking tips.