Every cookbooks, even most Chinese said “leftover rice” is the "must" for making the “fried rice” dish – are there any way I could make my fried rice without having to cook the rice the day before? What kind of rice should I buy? These are questions I been asked many times and I am sure you have asked this yourself a few times too, so what is it?
Back in the days when refrigerator has not been invented, Chinese would try every way to make full use of their left overs so as not to waste the food since food was not as affordable as now. Fried rice was then created based on this fact. Leftover rice is never a problem as you can simply steam them and they will become soft and fluffy again. The problem lies on re-cooking those leftover dishes, there are only so many times you can re-cook it without making it uneatable. So to be creative, they invented the fried rice dish – by combining the leftover meat/vegetable with the rice. Fried them together, add some soy sauce and you got a brand new enticing dish.
As most Chinese were brought up where food waste is a sin, it probably explains why leftover rice is always being used for fried rice. When we were young, we literally need to finish every single rice on our rice bowl and instead of explaining to us the real meaning behind it, our older generation would masked it with some myth stories like if you don't clean off every rice on your bowl, your future companion will have scars or bumps on their faces. And they would go on giving you examples after examples just to convince you. But I often wonder how true that is? At least not in my case.
This is probably the reason why a lot of cook books or cooks said you need to use leftover rice. But what they did not know is most Chinese chefs use fresh cooked rice for their fried rice and still taste great. You don't think those restaurants would stock up on leftover rice, do you? Of course not. So how do they do that?
Well the answer is simple – the type of rice they use. Most restaurants use long grain rice because it has firm texture, but it is also fluffy at the same time and most importantly it can be separated easily. It fits most people's palate. To make the fried rice with fresh cook rice, just scoop out the amount of rice you need, use a pair of chopsticks or fork to separate them while helping them to cool off. Let it cool down for at least 5 minutes before cooking. My trick is put the rice inside the fridge while you are prepare the other ingredients. It will be nice and cool in 5 minutes. Next, cook your fried rice like you normally do and you will get a perfect fried rice without having to wait a day to cook it.
And for those who loves short grain rice (like myself), you can still make a perfect fried rice by adding one extra step – once the rice has been cooked and cool off – rinse it under cold water to wash off the starch, drain it and there you have it – the less starchy rice for your fried rice. Another trick is to use less water when you cook your short grain rice, the rice will become less sticky and you can skip the rinsing step. Just add some hot water into unused cook rice, cover it and it will become fluffy and sticky again.
If you find your leftover rice stuck together in a big lump, this could be a bit tricky to use for your fried rice. To resolve this, all you need is to put them inside the microwave, cover it and heat it up on high for 1 minute, then quickly separate them into smaller chunks. They will separate when you fried them.
To purchase long grain rice, just look at your local supermarket - most US grown are long grain except for certain Japanese brand which will specify as Sushi rice - short grain. Thai or Indian rice are also considered as long grain.
So there you have it – you can now cook your fried rice any time you like without having to wait a day. I personally prefer to use fresh rice since I never really know when I am in the mood for fried rice. Plus my family loves rice so much that literally we have to cook a whole batch every day. I am sure my grandma will be proud of me, finishing every grain!