Secret to Chinese Fried Rice? Help??

Over the years I’ve tried to make fried rice MANY times, and most of those have been abject failures of one kind or another. The special flavour of the take-out variety just seems to be missing.

Today, I cooked my rice early, have chilled it in the fridge, have prepared some chopped chicken, chinese sausage, prawns (shrimp), chopped omelet, spring onions, carrots, peas and will toss the lot in a big wok with some sesame oil and veg oil.

What else can I add that will provide that distinctive ‘fried rice’ flavour?

You seem to be doing so much right! And no two people make it the same anyway!

Try this, 1/4 tsp each of, Chinese 5 spice, turmeric, ground cumin.

Also you could try adding a tsp of coconut oil when you boil the rice, plus make the rice the night before. Also consider maybe adding bean sprouts, or even fresh chopped cilantro?

I also season mine with some kechap manis (thick sweet soya sauce) while I’m making it in the wok.

(But I don’t care for take out friend rice, which is why I make my own. I’m not really aiming to duplicate take out.)

If you live where there is an Asian grocery you may find an individual use, fried rice seasoning, packet. It might be boxed, or not. This may be closer to the flavour you’re after.

Good Luck, either way.

Practice only with a little oil, salt and garlic. You must be able to impart a flavor with just those three. There’s no rule to it. In a wok, put in a small circle of veggie oil and soutee chopped garlic. Put in your cold rice. Mix it once and then let it “crackle” for 5 minutes. Then put a little salt and toss. Those left over omelette and other scraps don’t really add much flavor to the whole thing, just more things to chew.

Soy sauce and fish sauce.

Just salt? that’d be reallly bland.

After you first cook the rice toss it well so that it’s dry and fluffy. Try using just soy sauce and a little bit of sesame oil. If you refrigerate the rice after the initial cooking let it get back to room temp before frying. Those things have helped me somewhat, but I still don’t get it as good as the restaurants.

You need a few tablespoons of Shaoxing rice wine! Fry up your aromatics (onion and garlic and ginger and chili) just for a few moments – it’s too hot to leave anything in there for long. Add your rice, and DON’T stir for 15-20 sec, then move it, and leave it still for another 20 sec. You only need to add everything else long enough to warm it through – cook the prawns separately if they’re raw. Add the Shaoxing and some toasted sesame oil right at the end.

You’re missing ginger, garlic and soy sauce, and a bit of rice wine or white wine.

Well, whatever I did tonight, it was a success…my grandie gave me a 15/10 (yeah his maths is a bit off, but whatever) for my efforts! Even came back for seconds!!


Didn’t add any saucy things to the wok-mix, but had some light soy and fish-sauce to be added later.


Sun-Bird Fried Rice Seasoning.
Don’t buy it from Amazon though, it’s overpriced. A lot of grocery stores carry it.

I use oil, soy sauce and sugar in mine. Like anything, I’m sure the less healthy you make it the better it tastes

Here’s how I make it (I’ve lost the original source for this recipe):

3/4 cup finely chopped onion
2 1/2 tablespoons oil
1 egg, lightly beaten (or more eggs if you like)
3 dropssoy sauce
3 drops sesame oil
8 ounces cooked lean boneless pork or 8 ounceschicken, chopped
1/2 cup finely chopped carrot (very small)
1/2 cup frozen peas, thawed
4 cups cold cooked rice, grains separated (preferably medium grain)
4 green onions, chopped
2 cupsbean sprouts
2 tablespoonslight soy sauce (add more if you like) 


  1. Heat 1 tbsp oil in wok; add chopped onions and stir-fry until onions turn a nice brown color, about 8-10 minutes; remove from wok.
  2. Allow wok to cool slightly.
  3. Mix egg with 3 drops of soy and 3 drops of sesame oil; set aside.
  4. Add 1/2 tbsp oil to wok, swirling to coat surfaces; add egg mixture; working quickly, swirl egg until egg sets against wok; when egg puffs, flip egg and cook other side briefly; remove from wok, and chop into small pieces.
  5. Heat 1 tbsp oil in wok; add selected meat to wok, along with carrots, peas, and cooked onion; stir-fry for 2 minutes.
  6. Add rice, green onions, and bean sprouts, tossing to mix well; stir-fry for 3 minutes.
  7. Add 2 tbsp of light soy sauce and chopped egg to rice mixture and fold in; stir-fry for 1 minute more; serve.
  8. Set out additional soy sauce on the table, if desired.

You’re leaving out the MSG, I think.

No, I’m not joking :). My understanding is that MSG is pretty much pure umami flavor, is totally harmless, and is probably the flavor you’re jonesing for.

Take a packet of instant ramen flavoring (in the noodle packet.)

Add the seasoning to the whisked eggs and cooking oil. It does wonders.

Sure. If you’re not going heavy on the soy might as well use MSG.

Use real Chinese.

And oil. Plenty of oil; the rice soaks it up like little, oblong sponges. I see in this thread all sorts of healthy Western “a bit of oil,” but restaurants are not so afraid of it, and it’s a reason yours won’t taste as good as theirs. Doesn’t have to be fancy oil, either. Canola/rapeseed will do, though I’m not that fond of corn oil. Peanut will be better, but restaurants have thin margins and will cut costs where it least noticeable. They’ll even use mixed frozen peas and little carrot cubes because they are just the right size. I’ve seen them use frozen mixed vegetables, but the lima beans give it away and it usually means they’ve given up and the restaurant is circling the drain.

Ditto for refritos (refried beans), but there the grease of choice is lard. Wife interpreted in a clinic and tried to explain the diet to keep her patients’ gall bladders from killing them, but their eyes went blank and and they lost their Spanish when she got to, “No manteca de cerdo.” “But everything lardy tastes so good!” They compromised the way she and I did, by getting theirs pulled, but they were convinced that a fat-free diet would kill them before surgery could be scheduled. But be careful because the beans will absorb a truly amazing amount of grease.

Most of the carry-outs I’ve been too use the secret ingredient known only to 5 billion people. Garlic.

My favorite method is to slice up it up really thin and bloom it in the oil first. That produces a nutty sweat aroma that makes a wonderful start to any dish. And then I pitch the physical garlic so it doesn’t continue to cook into burnt rubber.


I think the biggest differentiator is using rice that’s been refrigerated at least over night. Fresh rice is a lot wetter and stickier.

After that, it’s a hella lot of personal preference. I’ve been to a LOT of places around China, and no two fried rice are the same.

Me, I tend to use ketchup as a proxy for vinegar, tomatoes, etc. Hell, even my in-laws from Shanghai like it.

IMHO, MSG is just nasty and you are NEVER better off using it. YMMV

Never added garlic, onion or any other spices.

  1. Slightly undercook the rice by a few minutes. Use american long grain.
  2. Leave rice for a day to dry out. Or freeze, and defrost in a sieve so loses moisture.
  3. Add oil to wok. Cook 1-2 eggs first before adding rice.
  4. Add rice, fry 3 minutes. Add salt at this stage.
  5. Add soy sauce, more light, a little dark, from edge of wok so that it is heated when hits rice.
  6. Cook two more minutes.
  7. Add a drizzle of toasted sesame seed oil for flavouring, mix and serve.