The Outright Best Rice For Michelin-Quality Stir Fry

As much as you'd like to believe that the year-old bag of basmati rice sitting in your pantry can make both creamy risotto and fragrant paella, and somehow make the best fried rice, too, it probably won't. There are several types of rice, each with different characteristics, and no one type may be suitable for all your cooking needs.

According to MyRecipes, the amylopectin starch in arborio rice gives it tooth, even when constantly stirred into a creamy consistency for risottos. Bomba rice's ability to absorb loads of water without clumping together makes it suitable for paellas, and the extremely adhesive glutinous rice can be ground into a flour for certain chewy Asian desserts. All this considered, it only makes sense that if you're looking to replicate your favorite takeaway-style stir fry with fried rice at home, you're going to want to — you guessed it — use a specific variety of rice.

Generally, long-grain varieties of rice, such as jasmine, are an excellent choice for making stir fries, as the grains can soak up the flavors of the dish while still retaining their individual shape (via Carolina Rice). But if you ask Singapore-based chef Martin Foo of Michelin Plate-recognized restaurant Crystal Jade Golden Palace about his secret to fried rice, he'll tell you that aged rice is the key.

Aged rice is fluffier and firmer to the tooth

While Thai jasmine rice is a popular choice for fried rice, Foo prefers another variety from the country: aged rice, as he told the Michelin Guide. Aged rice is stored for a year before it is sold, and Foo finds that the kind from Thailand "has a lower starch content and therefore absorbs less water during the cooking process," resulting in a more al dente texture. Better yet, he says that aged rice has a more concentrated rice-like flavor compared to the fresher varieties. A study published in the Journal of Cereal Science notes that aging may indeed alter the properties of rice, giving it a longer cook time, "harder texture," and a consistency that's more fluffy than sticky. 

When you're ready to whip up your aged rice stir fry, Foo gives the OK on a nonstick pan if you don't have a wok — as long as you keep the heat very high. Put it to the test using a quick 30-minute fried rice recipe, which can be adjusted based on whatever flavorings you have on hand. Whatever you do, chef Foo suggests holding back on adding any oil midway through the frying process, as the rice won't absorb it and you'll be left with a greasy batch.