How to make fried rice that tastes as good as takeout

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I’m not going to lớn speculate why—probably something to vày with being mostly indoors and having to lớn find excitement where I can—but recently I’ve needed every meal lớn be a heavy hitter. No mellow bites! I want acid! I want sweetness! I want crunch! The rate that I burn through hot sauce bottles would astonish a previous me. & while my rice cooker has always played a starring role at dinnertime, I’m no longer satisfied lớn eat the fluffy grains straight from the pot. Plain rice?! I’m asleep! On my table, it’s crispy rice or no rice.

Crispy rice is a global phenomenon, beloved across continents because it’s a textural marvel (and just plain tasty). Classically, when crispy rice is found at the bottom of Persian baked rice (where it’s known as tahdig) or at the bottom of paella (where it’s known as socarrat), it’s hard-earned, the result of cooking an amount of raw or par-cooked rice so that the base crisps against the pot or pan while the rest stays plump, creating a single layer of the extra-good stuff that’s worth fighting over. Making crispy rice this way takes care and practice—if the heat, time, & amount of liquid aren’t just right, you might get rice that’s overly scorched và dried-out or too wet khổng lồ ever crisp. 

Like an upside-down cake, it’s not the kind of thing you can kiểm tra on along the way—the crispiness quotient is unknowable until the dish is done. Và on a busy weeknight, I cannot giảm giá khuyến mãi with that kind of pressure.

How to lớn make crispy rice, the laziest way:

When I want crispy rice—and ideally just the crispy rice—without putting in the work required of a more involved dish, I cheat. This lazy lady’s shortcut eliminates the need for precision and feeds my desire for dinner to be hot, fast, & punchy.

It begins with cooked rice, which for me means either what’s left over in my rice cooker or yesterday’s take-out container. After heating a tablespoon or two of fat (I like olive oil, coconut oil, or a neutral oil like canola for this) in a nonstick pan until shimmering, you spread your rice to lớn cover the cooking surface in a thin, even layer. How much rice you use depends on how big your pan is—I think it’s best when you don’t let the layer get thicker than 1", which I’ve found means about three cups of cooked rice in a large skillet. Then you let it be for 6–8 minutes, or until golden brown & cracklingly crisp underneath.

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This process is foolproof because the rice is already cooked, so you don’t have to lớn worry about the base layer frying too quickly before the rest of the rice is cooked through. You also are không lấy phí to peek underneath your rice puck starting around 5 minutes in order lớn ensure the cấp độ of doneness meets your expectations. When I like the màu sắc and texture my rice has reached, I cut the heat and use a spatula khổng lồ break the rice round apart in the pan into a few big pieces, then flip those onto plates so the golden brown side faces up. All that’s left is to đứng đầu my perfect crunchy base however I please—sometimes that’s with a bright salad, a fried egg and a scoop of chili crisp, or a ladleful of curry, dal, or saag.

A pan of all-crispy rice is lượt thích a marshmallows-only box of Lucky Charms: 100% the good part, like you’re getting away with something. And in many ways, you are! There’s nothing to lớn fight over when it’s all the best, and you didn’t have to lớn work too hard khổng lồ get it.

How khổng lồ make crispy rice, the more involved way:

Okay, but say you're interested in pairing crispy rice with fluffy grains. Or you’re working with more rice than will fit into a 1" layer in your pan. Or you’re more energetic than I come 7 p.m. In those scenarios, you might consider this slightly more high-maintenance method from Andy Baraghani (who certainly knows his way around a golden grain). 

Instead of relying solely on oil, Andy uses a mixture of oil and milk for additional browning và caramelization (thanks, dairy fat!). He mounds the rice higher in the center of the pan, ensuring that the grains barricaded in the middle stay extra fluffy, và he rehydrates the pile with a few tablespoons of water lớn replace what the rice lost in the fridge. Then he covers the pan with a dish-towel-wrapped lid, which provides pressure so that the bottom layer stays in contact with the hot pan and locks in moisture. After leaving the rice khổng lồ cook for 10–15 minutes on medium-high, he inverts the rice onto a platter. 

Whereas my lazy method results in a pan that's nearly 100% crispy bits, Andy’s technique juxtaposes those crispy bits with plenty of the sort of soft, tender grains that are perfect for soaking up braised stews và meats. Since I’m not making braised stews and meats on most nights, however, I’ll maximize crispiness & leave any fluff (and guesswork) for the weekends.

Crispy or nothing


The combination of juicy mixed citrus with sliced avocado và sautéed shrimp is striking and, yes, delicious—but we all know that the bed of crispy rice is why you’re here.