If you like fried rice as I do, then you must have tasted Chinese or Thai fried rice. No? At least you have heard about them and maybe you are debating on which one is better? What is the fuss about?
There are various levels to fried rice and Thai fried rice as well as Chinese fried rice are right up there. But don’t take my word for it. I urge you to give it a shot if you have never savoured either of the two.
The argument rages on within you and around you. Your friend the foodie said that the taste of Chinese fried rice is out of this world but your brother who is a chef insists that Thai is the real deal. And you do not want to end up preparing a dish that you would not be able to shove down your throat.
Or worse still, take her out on a date with promise of heaven on earth and you both end up not liking the dish or realize it has some health implications for you or something?
It could even be that you have that leftover rice in your fridge and you are not sure how to transform it into delicious new cuisine.
Don’t beat yourself up. When it comes to the battle of Thai fried rice versus Chinese fried rice, most people are as confused as you are.
So how do you make the best choice?
There is no simple answer to this. A simple no to Thai or yes to Chinese will not suffice. We need to trace the whole thing right from the origin, touch on the ingredients, down to presentation. Those should clear whatever doubts you have. Besides, you are safer knowing what you are preparing or eating beforehand.
Origin of fried rice
All manner of fried rice can trace its origin from China, the Sui Dynasty in particular. History has it that the need to preserve leftovers necessitated the invention of fried rice, can you beat that? It has been a popular part of Asian cuisines for ages with diverse variations. This explains why we have the Thai fried rice and the Chinese fried rice along with many others.
So far, fried rice has become a staple food for many homes, from America to China, from Nigeria to Australia.
The different variations have their unique ingredients and sometimes, different cooking and serving methods. I bet you are so used to your local fried rice that you can’t wait to explore other fascinating options.
However, Thai fried rice and Chinese fried rice are still considered among the best. But do you have any idea why?
Let us look at the features that distinguish the Thai fried rice from Chinese fried rice. See if we can help you make up your mind after reading this.
Depending on the contents and method, fried rice can come out with different flavours.
Thai fried rice is known as Khao Phat which means stir-fried. It is mainly prepared with jasmine rice. This gives it a distinctive, amazing flavour which you cannot find with any other common rice. If you are a fan of bursting flavours, Thai fried rice is for you.
Usually, Chinese fried rice is cooked with white long grain rice which will still give you the sweet taste of fried rice.
But that aroma of the Thai jasmine rice is a game-changer. You need to find out for yourself!
Right here is where the varieties play a huge role. There are numerous variants of fried rice based on the ingredients. You probably know some yourself – the veggies, sauces, meat, fish and all that.
With your leftover rice, you may decide to include whatever spice, veggies, and fruits you find in your refrigerator. Thai fried rice has some distinguishing ingredients while Chinese fried rice also has some popular ingredients unique to it. Let’s look at some of the essential ingredients.
- Meat/fish: If you love chicken like me, then bull’s-eye! Both the Thai and Chinese fried rice can be prepared with your chicken plus other proteins like shrimps and fish.
However, Chinese fried rice is more popular with barbeques, pork and shrimps.
- Egg: You know you can incorporate scrambled eggs into your fried rice right? Yes, whether Thai or Chinese, you can mix your fried rice with scrambled eggs to give the dish a yummy creamy taste and look.
Hold on! There is a difference in the way you mix the egg. With Thai fried rice, you need to push the rice mixture aside to create a circle in the middle of it. Then scramble the eggs into that space before mixing it with the rest of the rice.
What about the Chinese fried rice? Well, the only difference here is that you scramble the eggs separately before mixing it with the rice. You can also fry the egg separately if you prefer garnishing the Chinese fried rice with egg.
- Veggies: Generally, Chinese fried rice uses more vegetable than Thai fried rice. You can include spring onions, scallions, bell pepper, green peas, carrots, corn and whatever vegetable that catches your fancy.
For the traditional Thai fried rice, basil leaf does it. However, you may choose to up your game with more veggies.
- Spices/Aromatics: You need to go easy on the spices with both types of fried rice, especially Thai fried rice. With onions, cloves and garlic, you can whip up for yourself some mouth-watering Thai fried rice.
For its Chinese cousin, you can spice your palettes up with more aromatics if you like or stick to the above.
This is where we have another huge distinction between Thai fried rice and Chinese fried rice.
The Chinese fried rice goes with soy sauce but you can still enjoy them without the soy sauce. However, chicken stock is more popular with Chinese fried rice and gives it that appealing yellowish colour.
But look, if you have ever tasted that distinct blend of the salty, acidic, spicy, yet sweet Thai flavour, I am sure you would always crave more of it. Thai fried rice with fish sauce (nam pla) will satisfy that craving. The fish sauce puts Thai fried rice on a different pedestal.
Good thing is that you can try out the different sauces, including oyster sauce with both types of fried rice; see what works best for you.
You can let your imagination run wild with the serving. But, (that’s a big but), Thai fried rice has its’ unique ways you can serve it.
For that authentic, traditional Thai fried rice experience, serve with wedges of tomatoes and slices of cucumber. The cucumber will provide the crunchiness needed to balance out the creamy fried rice.
That’s not all. You can go the extra mile to add a few lime wedges to the dish. No, you are not going to chew the lime, yuck. You only need to squeeze in the juice onto the rice. The transformation becomes completely phenomenal with the lime juice.
Oh, one more thing, the pineapple! You can add pineapple to the dish or simply serve it using the pineapple as your serving dish!
Chinese fried rice does not have any specific serving methods. You can serve it anyway it pleases you and your dish will still taste delicious. You eat it as the main dish or side dish.
The preparation and cooking time for both Chinese fried rice and Thai fried rice is almost the same. It all depends on the proteins and ingredients you want to use.
Thai and Chinese fried rice can be prepared in 15 minutes. (This is assuming you have cooked rice already). It only takes about 10 minutes to cook, give or take.
Tips for the best Thai and Chinese fried rice
- Use leftover rice. It is preferable to use cold rice, at least day-old rice. It makes your fried rice crispier and the grains are separated making it easier to stir-fry. This is a must if you want to fully enjoy your oriental fried rice.
- Cook ingredients separately, yes, I know it is more work, but trust me, it is worth the effort and time. Do not lump the vegetables, eggs, spices and everything into the pot at the same time. Let each one cook one by one, remove, then cook the next batch.
You want to get the maximum flavour out of each ingredient, so patiently stir-fry individually. Then, mix everything at the end and cook for more few more minutes.
- To get the best result, cook the last part of your fried rice with maximum heat. That is, after adding all your ingredients, stir them together and cook with the strongest heat you can get.
- Wok is best for cooking fried rice. There won’t be pieces of rice and veggies falling off and it reduces the likelihood of your rice getting burnt.
Now, which one do you think will win the battle of Thai fried rice Vs Chinese fried rice?