Putting the fried in fried rice – The Denver Post

By Melissa Clark, The New York Times

I cooked a lot of fried rice before I learned to take the frying seriously.

When I used to stir-fry it, I focused on the stirring part of the equation. I’d move the rice across a hot oiled pan with vegetables and the occasional pork product, seasoning it with soy sauce and sesame oil. It tasted great, but the texture was soft. Really, I was making zipped up, sautéed rice, without any of the deeply crisp edges I didn’t know I could achieve.

Then I witnessed a friend fry rice, and saw the error of my ways.

He cooked the vegetables and aromatics first until they softened and browned, just as I always did. But instead of tossing the rice around in the pan, he spread it out in an even layer on the bottom and up its sides. Then, he let it sit without touching it.

I grew antsy watching it, and had to resist the urge to jump in with a spatula. But just as I was about to offer a gentle reminder about the stir in stir-fry, the nutty scent of caramelization wafted across the room. The rice hissed, then crackled and sputtered.

When he finally tossed the ingredients, the rice was golden and crisp. The prolonged contact with the hot oil made the grains supremely, wonderfully crunchy.