Help!! Teach Me How To Make NY Style Chinese Food!
February 12, 2009 1:42 AM   Subscribe

Anyone know how to make pork fried rice and chicken and broccoli just like in New York Style chinese food?

I am a chinese fodo addict. I could eat chicken and broccoli for the rest of my life and never grow tired of it. however, when I moved to California, I noticed these restuarants in LA SUCK!!! I went to just about every restaurant in LA, Venice, Santa Monica, Marina del Rey, and even El Segundo! they all taste the same and they all taste bad. (mostly that express chinese crap)

In New york, some restuarants are better than others, but East coast chinese generally taste the same. Out west, it lacks flavor, expression, attention to detail, color, and intensity!

I tried a few recipes for pork fried rice and chicken and broccoli online, but they all taste west coasty to me. If anyone can get me a NY recipe, I'm forever in your debt!! Tell me where to shop, and what I need to make it, and I'm there! Thanks!
posted by FireStyle to Food & Drink (16 answers total) 21 users marked this as a favorite
MSG helps the intensity, sold frequently in spice aisles as "accent". On the West Coast, people seem to have decided that MSG is bad, and so many places have stopped using it... which is lame, 'cause it tastes so great (unless it gives you headaches or whatever).

I don't know about CA, but I've found the best Chinese food up here in Washington comes from teriyaki joints instead of places claiming to be Chinese. Since none of these establishments ever seem to be run by people of their nominal ethnicity anyway, I don't think you should worry about authenticity.

I don't have an answer on chicken/broccoli for you, but here's my fried rice recipe. It tastes very much like all of the East Coast/Midwestern restaurant stuff I've had:

Make a batch of rice in your rice maker. Take it out, put it in a bowl, and fluff it. Put it in the fridge until the next day.

After the rice has sat for about 12-24 hours, take it out and let it warm up to room temperature (this isn't crucial, but does help; cold works, though).

Heat up your wok. Add peanut oil, and a little sesame oil. After that's nice and hot, crack an egg or two into the oil and scramble that around until it sets.

Throw in your rice. Stir fry the rice long enough to get it warm, then start adding Kikkomann (or your favorite) soy sauce. Now add some thick sweet soy sauce (which is frequently what it's marked as on the label). Adjust the soy sauce levels until the color and base flavor is correct: kikkomann for salt and pique, sweet for the deeper, maltier flavor. Add a bit of MSG; maybe a teaspoon?; I usually just do it by pinches and stop when the flavor "pops" and feels "round". Add salt and pepper (white pepper is best for this).

After you've gotten your rice fried up, add in your vegetables and fry all of that together for a little while. If they're vegetables that "need" cooking, like carrots or broccoli, you can stir fry them in the same pan before you add the egg and just put everything else in on top of them. For the love of god, do not put the cover on and let it simmer or steam.

If you're going to add pork (or any other meat), you should just stir fry that before you do the rice and set it aside. Then, add the cooked meat in at the same time as the vegetables.
posted by Netzapper at 2:45 AM on February 12, 2009 [5 favorites]

I don't know about New York, but I do know that throwing a little (maybe a tablespoon for two servings) brown sugar in the rice will also punch up the flavor, as well as giving it that nice browned color.

You might also just try calling some of your old NY Chinese haunts and ask them for the recipe/ingredient list. I did this with a local (Chicago) Thai restuarant when I couldn't get my peanut sauce to taste like theirs, and they were happy to comply.
posted by nax at 4:44 AM on February 12, 2009

I don't know about New York, but I do know that throwing a little (maybe a tablespoon for two servings) brown sugar in the rice will also punch up the flavor, as well as giving it that nice browned color.

No, no, no. How could you suggest such a thing? It's irresponsible. Brown sugar has no place in fried rice.

Thick Sweet Soy Sauce.

It's sold in a giant glass bottle, probably with a pop-off bottle cap instead of any convenient pouring device. You will probably need to go to an Asian food store to pick this up, unless your grocery store is well stocked. If it's not called that, just pick up the big glass bottles of soy sauce with simplistic printing and non-resealable caps and find the one that's dark brown and appears to be solid.

I'm not talking about just another variety of the liquid soy you're (probably) used to. This stuff is thicker than ketchup, and tastes obviously sweet. It's the basis of, for instance, the sauce that comes with mu shu pork/chicken. This will provide all of the sweetness that nax rightly suggests is necessary, but will also include a deep and satisfying fermented soy flavor that the brown sugar will never hope to have.

You only need maybe three or four tablespoons of it for a whole big batch of rice, in addition to your regular soy sauce. It's strong.

And trust me... it'll be plenty brown.
posted by Netzapper at 5:27 AM on February 12, 2009

Oh, but nax does have a good suggestion about calling the restaurants... although, in my experience, it's next to impossible to have a phone conversation with the delivery joints in Philly that didn't precisely follow the script of "Pickup or delivery? -- What you want? -- Address? -- House or apartment?".

Not saying there aren't lots of Chinese food workers fluent in conversational English throughout the Eastern US... I'm just saying they never seemed to answer the phone for me. Back in Missouri, completely different story...
posted by Netzapper at 5:31 AM on February 12, 2009

If you don't want to use MSG I found an answers page that lists a few things you could use in it's place. Here However if you don't care then use all the MSG you want.
posted by Mastercheddaar at 5:37 AM on February 12, 2009

For whatever reason, using oyster sauce made all the difference for me. I'd tried making stir fries at home using just soy sauce, and that didn't work, but one recipe for lo mein I have calls for oyster sauce, which I dutifully tried -- and it had that familiar taste I'd come to associate with lo mein from the restaurants.

I tend to not be all that adventurous when just ordering takeout, though (usually when I'm doing takeout, I'm in capable of thinking much as it is so I just go for my fallbacks) and what I have come to associate with "the way lo mein is supposed to taste" could technically suck and I just don't any better.

...But...yeah, oyster sauce seems to help.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:00 AM on February 12, 2009

New Yorker and big-time fried rice fan here.

Netzapper's technique sounds good to me, close enough to mine, and I nth the correct cheap soy sauces (China Lily over Kikkoman for me, less wine-y). I fry the chicken or pork first (peanut + sesame oil is key), then add veggies, then crack the eggs on top of THAT and mess it all together... and then add the precooked rice and thick sweet soya last. Tumble until the color is even.

I also add the five spices before the egg, which makes mine a lot zestier / zingier than the average white paper box version. But if I leave that out, what I get is very similar to takeout-plain.
posted by rokusan at 7:09 AM on February 12, 2009

(And I don't use MSG or salt at all, but if I was simulating the restaurant rather than pleasing the palettes of my home's occupants, I probably would.)
posted by rokusan at 7:10 AM on February 12, 2009

This is the second fried rice posting I've responded to in the last 12 hours. Here's my recipe. I am not aware of it being east coasty or west coasty.

And check out Aloha Food Factory. Probably one of my favorite places to eat in all of LA.
posted by charlesv at 8:05 AM on February 12, 2009

If you are open to trying more restaurants, the website is a great place to get restaurant recommendations... Here is a link to the LA area forum.
posted by olddogeyes at 8:56 AM on February 12, 2009

I learned how to make my fried rice in China, so it is probably not what you want if you are looking for an east coast style (I am on the East coast so I am familiar with it), but in case you are curious this is how it goes.

Eggs first, always! If you add them after anything else they will just make a gummy disgusting coasting and wont add anything at all to your fried rice. When you are mixing up your eggs in a bowl (I generally do 1 egg per cup of cooked rice) you can add a little grated ginger or garlic (just a little) and a teaspoon of MSG (I personally feel that fried rice doesnt really benefit from MSG as much as wetter dishes).

Put about 1-2 TSP of cooking oil in your wok (I use canola, but anything with a high smoke point would be fine) and get it good and hot, add your beaten eggs and then leave it alone for 30-45 seconds while they eggs solidify just a little bit, then you break them up with your spoon and a nice side effect of this method is that they do not absorb all of your oil.

Add your protein at this point, I prefer small pieces of chicken or pork and shredded mushroom (oyster or shittake) which I marinaded for a few minutes in a bowl with a little sesame oil, salt, pepper, soy sauce, vinegar, the white part of scallions, and fish sauce, just a small splash of each. You ought to keep in mind that you do not need much meat in this, as such I usually on use about 1/4-1/3 of a pound at most. Stir fry for about a minute or so until the meat doesn't look complete raw anymore, but it doesn't have to be cooked all the way through yet either.

Add your veggies, I prefer diced carrot, and frozen peas, one of the things with fried rice is that you dont want to put too much crap in there, and I think it is a fine time to remember to keep it simple. Again, stir fry for about 30 seconds then add two TBS of fish sauce (I add this around the edges of the wok, not directly on top of the food), and stir fry it in for about 30 more seconds.

At this point add your rice, which should be slightly warm as that temperature will give you the best consistency for this recipe. and just chop it in with your spoon, once you have it well mixed, lower the temperature for medium and cover for about 2 minutes and then stir fry to get everything thoroughly mixed. Add the green part of the scallions, a little sesame oil to taste, mix again and serve.

I promise you, that will be the best fried rice you ever had, although it doesnt seem to be what you are looking for. The mechanics of the recipe are fundamentally solid and work with a lot of ingredients.
posted by BobbyDigital at 9:06 AM on February 12, 2009 [7 favorites]

Good recipes here, just wanted to add: Get your wok & oil as hot as possible. Restaurants woks cook WAY hotter than anything you will normally be able to achieve at home. And don't be afraid to use sugar.
posted by gnutron at 11:00 AM on February 12, 2009

Please don't use soy sauce in fried rice, it has no place there... use salt or MSG, or even fish sauce. It'll taste much better.
posted by wongcorgi at 11:52 AM on February 12, 2009

I went to just about every restaurant in LA, Venice, Santa Monica, Marina del Rey, and even El Segundo!

Well, there's your problem right there. None of those places has good Chinese food. But, you are in luck, because Los Angeles actually has one of the largest Chinese-American populations in the U.S., but it's nowhere near the west side.

But I fear that you are looking for an authentic New York taste, similar to trying to find New York style pizza out here, which means it is hard to find and you likely can't do it yourself.

If you're willing to wander over to San Gabriel Valley, you will find some of the best Chinese food you have ever tasted. And it's cheap. Also, you might find something decent in Culver City.

But, if you are making it at home, as noted above, you'll probably need to invest in some monosodium glutamate, peanut oil, a wok, and a very hot gas range.
posted by jabberjaw at 11:55 AM on February 12, 2009 [1 favorite]

Seconding jabberjaw. The best Chinese food restaurants are in Arcadia, San Gabriel, Alhambra, etc.
posted by invisible ink at 2:53 PM on February 12, 2009

Response by poster: Man this is awesome! So I have some ingredients to pick up for this weekends chinese food extravaganza, and a few new restaurants to try....

Culver City is right next door to me, so I can try there first, but any restaurants in particular to try? I will glady drive 45 min there and back for good ol' East Coast style Chinese!!
posted by FireStyle at 5:01 PM on February 13, 2009

« Older How does my cover band start making money?   |   Vinyl Origami Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.