To American diners, fried rice is one of the best-known Chinese dishes. Customers don’t love it because it’s Asian, they love it because it tastes great. Which begs the question: Must fried rice always have an Asian take?
Not anymore. The latest Gordon Food Service research found examples of creative fried-rice offerings from restaurants in New York, Los Angeles and Chicago. Many of the dishes can be made with ingredients already in your pantry or walk-in.
We discovered operators who are elevating a much-loved dish by simply tweaking tradition with premium ingredients and flavor combinations, such as adding vinegar-roasted turnip, sumac yogurt and pickled wasabi leaf with black garlic rice.
South American influence
Many South American cuisines include fried rice that has evolved from its Chinese roots by taking on indigenous flavors and ingredients, such as Peruvian arroz chaufa, Spanish chorizo, grilled sweet corn and oyster mushrooms.
Going with the grains
Then consider that fried rice needn’t showcase rice at all. Indeed, grains other than rice are gaining huge ground with American palates—whole grains even more so. Operators are using quinoa instead of rice, serving it with pork belly, brown rice, plantain, king oyster mushrooms, onsen (Japanese for “hot spring”) egg and smoked oshinko (Japanese pickled radish).
Your elevated fried rice larder
When considering innovative and marketable fried-rice menu offerings, start by looking no further than what you already stock—including leftover proteins, grains, cooked vegetables, etc.
Exotic rices: bomba (aka Valenciana), brown wehani, black forbidden, sticky, Chinese green, whole-grain purple or red, sprouted, aromatic jasmine and basmati, Arborio.
Whole grains: farro, barley, quinoa, wild rice, freekeh.
Sauces, spices and seasonings: adobo, black garlic, pesto, fresh chiles, pastes and powders.
Meats: cured sausage and hams, bacon, confit, fattier seafoods, shellfish, poultry of all stripes.
Vegetables: The sky’s the limit!
Eggs: either scrambled, boiled, fried, then chopped and stirred in, or fried and served as a topper.