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Eggs, scallions, oil, and rice — this is the simplest form of classic Chinese take-out rice. But like many simple recipes — roast chicken, macaroni and cheese, and omelets — simple doesn’t mean easy. Transforming a handful of ingredients into something next level takes a little bit of technique, especially when you don’t have the same gadgets as a restaurant. So is it possible to get restaurant-quality results without the restaurant equipment? Here are some ways to up your fried rice game.

Via: Flickr

Why A Wok?

Via: Flickr

What makes fried rice so unique in flavor and texture is the equipment used to cook the dish. A wok pan and a wok stove. The wok pan has a round bottom and high sides. This concave shape distributes heat more evenly than your traditional frying pan. A wok’s thin metal design allows the food to get hot fast and it’s able to withstand high heat, thus giving the food a wonderful toasted flavor.

It’s not just the pan that’s special, the wok stove is unique. A wok stove has special burner where the flame licks the bottom of the pan. Woks need consistently high levels of heat and some stove top modifiers help the wok rest on the burner better, but it’s not the same as the restaurant kitchen stoves with roaring hot flame. Despite the disadvantage, here are some tips to make this dish at home!

Fresh Is Best

Via: Flickr

Even though there is a serious disadvantage to not having Chinese restaurant equipment, there are still ways to make on-par fried rice. The first way is to use fresh rice. Yes, the myth goes that day-old rice is better to stir fry, but in fact, freshly steamed rice is better for texture. The refrigerated rice’s texture changed. When chilled, the moisture gets pulled out of the rice and onto the exterior of the rice grain, meaning it clumps easier. Worse yet, old rice needs more moisture, so you’ll have to use more liquid and sauce, resulting in soupy, not crispy, fried rice.

Steam This Way

Via: Flickr

If you want a superb texture, you can opt for steaming your rice. Many Chinese recipes call for rice cooked in a bamboo steamer, but if you don’t have a bamboo steamer, don’t worry. After par-boiling the rice for a few minutes, you pour the rice into a fine mesh strainer, dot some crevices and holes into the rice, cover with foil, press a pot lid over the foil-sealed strainer, and steam over a pot of boiling water until completely cooked. This diffused way of cooking rice gives the rice moisture without it becoming mushy.

Give The Eggs A Break

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For good stir-fried scrambled eggs, whisk eggs with salt and let them rest in a bowl for ten minutes before cooking. The rest allows the salt to denature the egg proteins making for long, delicate, and thin strands of eggs (not the hard clumpy ones you’d get if you cracked an egg straight into the pan).

Cook It In Cast Iron

Via: Flickr

Without a wok, the next best crispy-making pan would be a cast iron skillet. Though it has uneven cooking and heat spots, its ability to crust up and brown food is far superior to your run-of-the-mill nonstick pan. When you use a cast iron skillet, make sure it is well-greased, or your meal will be forever married to the interior of your pan.

Be Very Prepared

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Like with stir fries, everything should be prepped and ready to go. Nothing chopped last minute! Everything comes together very quickly. The order of operations is simple: oil, then egg, then rice. You want to mix these two ingredients, letting them get toasty, but not burnt, use a spatula to flip and mix everything around. Then you add soy sauce and scallions, cooking until the liquid evaporates and the scallions are slightly softened for about three minutes.

With these simple tweaks, you’ll be able to make fried rice that is beyond any homemade recipe you’ve tried before. And don’t be limited by simple scallions and eggs, you can change it up with an array of proteins, vegetables, and spices.

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