Why It Pays To Cook Fried Rice In Butter Instead Of Oil

Once you've learned how to cook fried rice the way Chinese restaurants do, having leftover rice will never become an issue again. But if you want to expand your fried-rice game further, try making Japanese-style fried rice the next time. Whenever you find yourself craving that flavor-packed side dish that's served in teppanyaki restaurants, you can make your own version at home by frying rice in butter.

That's one of the major differences between how Chinese and Japanese restaurants prepare fried rice. Whereas the former only uses oil, the latter cooks leftover grains with butter (plus soy sauce). We know that adding butter to a pot of steamed rice already infuses a richer flavor to the dish so just imagine how much tastier it can get when you fry the rice in it. Butter also makes the Japanese version feel creamier, especially since restaurants typically use the short-grain rice used in making sushi, whereas Chinese fried rice is all about fluffy long grains that have some firmness and bite to them.

Since it has a low smoke point, the idea of frying with butter might give you pause since fried rice calls for cooking in very high heat to achieve that desired, slightly crisped-up texture. One tip when using butter is to mix it with oil so you can cook the rice at a high temperature. Stir the butter constantly in the pan, too, so you don't have to worry about burning it while making your homemade Japanese fried rice.

Butter makes your fried rice taste richer but also increases fat content

Since cooking with butter infuses food with a richer flavor and texture in general, you might find that frying leftover rice in oil leaves it bland in comparison. However, be aware that using butter with your fried grains would give them a higher saturated fat content; per the USDA, a stick of unsalted butter already contains 50.5g of saturated fats. And that's not even following what Japanese restaurants do, which is to add soy sauce and even oyster or Worcestershire sauce when cooking rice in butter. All that seasoning will considerably raise the sodium level of the dish. 

All this is to say that neither version of fried rice is superior to the other. Each has its own delicious strengths so switching them up can make your meals more exciting.

When making Japanese-style fried rice using just one pan, add your leftover rice to the skillet after your choice of mixed chopped vegetables has finished cooking. Make space so you can melt more butter in the pan, throw in the grains, and season everything with soy sauce. Follow the Japanese way of adding beaten eggs on top of the rice as it cooks so they get incorporated well into the dish. This will also give fried rice an appetizing golden hue. Keep stirring and tossing everything together then once you're finished cooking and have removed the pan from the stove, drizzle some sesame oil as a finishing touch.