Always Simmer Your Aromatics First When Frying Rice

Fried rice in bowl
Fried rice in bowl - Kravtzov/Shutterstock

Nothing beats fried rice from restaurants. It's fluffy without being too soft or mushy, has an incredible umami flavor, and comes with a delicate sweetness. Trying to recreate restaurant fried rice doesn't always yield the same results, but if there's one thing you can do for perfect fried rice each time, it's simmering your aromatics beforehand.

In cooking, aromatics are everything. They bring heat, texture, depth, and so much more to food. Some people swear by ginger's pepperiness or buttery garlic for their homemade fried rice, but it doesn't really matter what you use -- just fry it for a while first. If you add all your onions, garlic, or shallots at the same time as your rice, they won't release their flavor into the oil that coats the rice. Cooking down the aromatics is the best tip you need to make restaurant-quality fried rice. It won't take as long as caramelizing onions, but the aromatics will need a few extra minutes to flavor the oil properly.

Although fried rice is cooked at a higher heat, you'll need to start lower and slower, otherwise, the aromatics will burn. Once the aromatics start to soften, go ahead and add the cooked rice in. If you're afraid of them burning once you start frying the rice or you don't want them to make their way onto your plate, smash the aromatics rather than mincing them so they can easily be scooped out once they flavor the oil.

Read more: 21 Delicious Ways To Use Up Leftover Rice

How Long Does It Take Aromatics To Release Flavor?

frying aromatics in wok
frying aromatics in wok - Ika Rahma H/Shutterstock

Aromatics don't infuse the oil with flavor right away, but the length it will take depends on what kind of aromatic you're using. With garlic, the pungent allium tends to take around two or three minutes. A clove or two should be enough to flavor the oil properly. When cooking with garlic, some think that finely mincing it produces the most flavor, but smashing them is the simpler, yet more powerful method for your fried rice. For onion, garlic's allium cousin, five minutes softens the onions enough to bring out that delicious sweet flavor in rice.

With ginger, you just need to add it towards the end. Unlike onions and garlic, the longer it's cooked, the more it tends to lose its flavor, so let it be the last aromatic you add. Smash a piece of it into the wok and stir it around for about 30 seconds. If you really love the peppery sweetness it brings to fried rice, you can also grate it onto the almost-finished rice towards the end and fold it in, or simple slice it finely and add that way.

Another peppery aromatic, dried chiles, brings mainly heat, with less emphasis on sweetness. They're an underrated aromatic pick for fried rice, but it's the perfect choice for spice enthusiasts. Like ginger, half a minute will bring out chiles' heat when making fried rice.

Read the original article on Tasting Table