What Are the Best Tips for Making Rice in a Wok?

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  • Written By: Dan Harkins
  • Edited By: Kaci Lane Hindman
  • Last Modified Date: 11 January 2020
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The Asian wok is a versatile, cone-shaped pan typically used for frying. Though it could steam up some white rice on the fly — if that is the only option available, better results are likely if the rice is steamed in a thick-bottomed and level pan. Then, what is left of the white rice after several hours of drying can be used to make fried rice in a wok, containing any number of finely chopped vegetables and meats as well as certain seasonings like garlic, soy or fish sauce and fresh herbs like basil.

Learning how to steam white rice is a prerequisite of cooking fried rice in a wok. A long-grained variety should be used. Many chefs will wash and soak it in water for a half-hour to remove any potential additives or starches that could make the individual grains more prone to sticking. A low heat with the precise amount of water recommended by the manufacturer is important, since using the least amount of water is key to making rice that will hold up in the wok. Generally, every 1 cup (about 80 g) of white rice will need at least 1.5 cups (about 355 ml) of water to soak up.


To make the best wok rice, it should have a chance to rest and cool off from the heat. This allows for a complete distribution of water and more tender grains. Many use rice from the day before to make their fried rice in a wok, crumbling it into the recipe to avoid clumping.

Rice in a wok starts with the right key ingredients. Peanut or vegetable oil goes into a hot pan, quickly followed in succession by minced garlic and diced vegetables like onion, peppers, chiles, peas and carrots — a wide range, depending on what is available. This is when many chefs also throw in proteins like shellfish, marinated chicken or pork. Some salt and pepper go in with the raw ingredients, then everything is fried until nearly cooked through.

Just before the main ingredients are done, the cooked rice is crumbled in to join the meat and vegetables. After stirring the medley for a few minutes to spread the flavored oils around, soy or fish sauce is splashed through the rice to lightly color it and add more salty flavor. Another common ingredient at this point is sugar. Once the flavors have fully melded, the cook will taste the rice and add more soy or fish sauce to bring it up to standards. Those making Thai-style fried rice in a wok will even add basil at the very end to impart an even bolder flavor and aroma.



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