Sunday, December 14, 2008

That elusive Japanese fried rice

I'm assuming that everybody reading this has been to a Japanese steakhouse, griddlehouse, whateva, before. Those places where you sit around the chef, who's working on an enormous hibachi, and serves piping hot food directly onto your plate. Got it? Good. So, here's my quandry: I have absolutely no idea how they make their rice so good.

Fried rice seems like it would be positively a no brainer to crank out. It's rice, a few other things, and you cook it on a griddle. I mean, we all watch the guy do it. White rice, peas, diced carrots, a bit of pulverized fried egg, some soy sauce, sesame seeds, and butter. Now, try it yourself. I guarantee you it won't taste the same. Ever since I started cooking for myself, I've tried to make this dish, and while what I make might be tasty, it just doesn't compare at all. I tried again the other day, and while I got closer than I've ever gotten before, I still failed:

My mom gave me a cast iron griddle that fits over stove eyes, and it's awesome for cooking in this style, so I not only did the fried rice, but also some teriyaki shrimp and some broccoli, onion, and mushroom to go along. Don't get me wrong, it all tasted great, but the rice was off. It's not quite the same taste.

Now, what I did was to cook rice the previous day in my rice cooker. I then mixed the cooked rice with some peas and a diced carrot and set that in the fridge overnight. When I cooked, I rubbed a pad of butter on the griddle surface, then tossed the rice on, and folded in a pair of fried eggs that had been finely chopped. As it was popping along on a good heat, I added a tablespoon or so of sesame seeds, and some soy sauce with just a little smidge of wasabi paste and sesame oil stirred into it.

If you have better success stories than I do, by all means share them. This has given me fits forever, and I'd love to solve this universal mystery!

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