The case of fried rice remains a mystery to many. Do you have to deep-fry or stir-fry it? Do you boil rice before frying it?
I had the same unending questions as an amateur cook until I read about fried rice and tried countless recipes. I learned that, unlike other fried items, you don’t deep-fry rice; it has a different frying method.
While cooking fried rice, boil it and refrigerate it for at least 30 minutes, ideally overnight. Refrigeration is necessary after boiling to improve the rice’s texture. The last step is to stir-fry the rice with vegetables, chicken, or any other ingredient of your choice.
Should You Boil Rice Before Frying?
You should boil rice before stir-frying it with vegetables, sauces, and other ingredients.
The whole process of boiling rice is pretty straightforward. If you want your fried rice to taste authentic, try one of the methods below.
Method 1: Simple Boiling
Let’s start with the basic boiling method. Great for a beginner in the kitchen, it is the simplest and the least time-consuming process on this list. Plus, you’ll get super fluffy and non-sticky rice!
2. Soak the rice in cold water for at least 30 minutes to remove the excess starch from the grains. This step will prevent excess starch from causing your rice to boil over.
3. Then, drain the rice in a sieve and rinse it at least twice.
4. Transfer the rice to a cooking pot.
5. Add two cups of water and one teaspoon of salt for each cup of rice.
6. Next, close the lid and let the rice cook on medium-high heat until the water starts boiling. It may take up to 10 minutes.
7. When you see the water boiling, reduce the flame to low and cook the rice for five minutes.
8. Turn off the stove once the rice has absorbed all the water.
9. You should also check if the cooked rice has a slightly soft texture. If not, add three tablespoons of water and let it boil for two to three more minutes.
Once the rice has boiled, transfer it to a bowl.
Method 2: Pilaf Style
When I have a free day and I’m craving Michelin Star-worthy fried rice, I boil my rice Pilaf style! It is a cooking technique that involves first frying rice with oil or butter and then boiling it.
You won’t believe how much firmer, fluffier, and tastier Pilaf rice is than boiled rice.
Similar to method one, you can use basmati or jasmine rice. Additionally, soak the uncooked rice for at least 30 minutes and rinse it twice. Next, follow the steps mentioned below.
1. Add one tablespoon of oil or butter for every cup of rice to a cooking pot. I use butter for a richer taste.
2. Then, add the rice grains to the cooking pot and sauté them for two to three minutes or until they appear translucent.
3. You can also add any spices or seasonings and sauté the rice. I like adding a bit of onion and garlic powder to infuse additional flavors.
Then, follow the same steps that you do for boiling rice:
4. Add two cups of water and one teaspoon of salt for each cup of rice.
5. Close the lid and boil the rice on a medium-high flame for seven to eight minutes.
6. Transfer the rice to a bowl once it has boiled and no water remains in the pot.
Note: Let the rice reach room temperature and refrigerate it for a few minutes before frying, no matter the method. If you’re not in a hurry, I recommend refrigerating it overnight for best results.
How to Dry Rice Quickly After Boiling?
Here’s one thing I learned the hard way. You should never fry the rice immediately after boiling it unless you want to eat fried goop!
Freshly boiled rice contains a lot of moisture, so each grain releases water while cooking. This unfortunate fact can leave your fried rice soggy and suck the flavors out of your dish!
Hence, always refrigerate rice for at least 30 minutes after boiling it. Ideally, most chefs suggest using a day-old leftover rice for the best texture and flavor in your fried rice.
1. Using an Oven or Microwave
An oven or microwave is your best bet for drying rice before stir-frying. It removes any extra moisture and gives your rice a slight crunchiness.
The only thing you have to be careful about here is not to bake the rice excessively. You wouldn’t want to cook chewy grains!
Here’s how to use a microwave to dry your rice:
- Line a baking tray with aluminum foil or parchment paper so the cooked rice won’t stick.
- Transfer the rice to the lined baking tray and spread it thinly.
- Bake the rice at 300 degrees Fahrenheit for five to eight minutes.
Alternatively, you can microwave the rice for up to two minutes for a quick fix.
Check out this video for a better understanding of this method.
2. Using a Freezer
Refrigerating boiled rice to prepare it for a stir fry requires at least 30 minutes, but you can cut down that time by freezing rice instead.
All you have to do is transfer the rice to a bowl after you boil it, let it come to room temperature, and place it in the freezer for 15 minutes.
3. Dry at Room Temperature
This method isn’t the most effective to cool or dry rice for stir-frying. However, it works when you don’t have an oven or microwave.
To dry rice at room temperature:
- Transfer the rice from the cooking pot to a tray.
- Next, spread the rice thinly such that each grain is well-separated.
- Keep the tray under a fan for 10 minutes.
I also take extra precautions by gently dabbing the rice grains with a paper towel to absorb any remaining moisture.
How to Stir-Fry Boiled Rice?
After you’ve boiled and refrigerated the rice, move on to stir-frying it. My mom gave me this age-old fried rice recipe that tastes delicious. Let’s get into it!
- One tablespoon of vegetable oil or canola oil (use non-flavored oils)
- One cup of cooked and dry basmati or jasmine rice
- One tablespoon of regular soy sauce
- One cup diced carrots (around two whole carrots)
- One cup diced bell pepper (around half a bell pepper)
- Two finely chopped green chilies
- Two to three finely chopped garlic cloves
- ½ teaspoon of MSG (optional)
1. Heat a wok or non-stick pan on a medium-high flame.
2. Add one tablespoon of vegetable oil and let it smoke a bit.
3. Next, add chopped garlic. Fry it until it turns golden brown.
4. Throw in the diced vegetables and toss them on high heat.
5. Add the boiled rice to the wok and sauté it with the vegetables.
6. Then, pour a tablespoon of soy sauce or any other sauce (oyster or fish) that you like into the rice.
7. You can add MSG to the wok for a more pronounced umami flavor.
8. Mix and stir-fry everything quickly using a spatula for four to five minutes.
Once you see that all ingredients are well-combined and the fried rice has a lovely aroma, transfer it to a bowl.
I love veggie fried rice, but you can also add scrambled eggs, crumbled tofu, or chicken pieces for a more fancy and protein-rich meal. This video shows how to add eggs to your fried rice.
Fried rice is truly a treat for the tastebuds. It’s astonishing how making fried rice is super easy and doesn’t take more than 20 minutes. However, you should adequately boil and chill rice before frying it for best results. Each grain should have a firm and slightly tender texture.
If the rice isn’t boiled thoroughly, you will feel a slight hardness while chewing it. If it cooks too much, the result will be a mushy dish!