My friend Chris Brogan enjoys making the joke, “It’d be like grilling rice”, a way of suggesting that an effort is futile or highly impractical. Conceptually, grilling rice does seem absurd.
Why would you ever attempt something like grilling rice? If you’ve ever been to a hibachi grill, you’ve likely had the fried rice made on the grill. If you’ve ever been to a Korean restaurant and ordered a stone pot bibimbap, you’ve had the same type of rice. Rice fried at very high temperatures develops a wonderful crispy exterior and amazing flavor as the starches and sugars undergo the Maillard reaction.
Creating the same kind of food on the stovetop takes a long time and often yields underwhelming results because stovetops just don’t get hot enough. Unlike your stovetop, a good grill – gas or charcoal – can reach very high temperatures, sometimes in excess of 800 degrees. That’s hot enough to create the Maillard reaction quickly, so that the rice doesn’t dry out and become tough.
Thus, we should grill our rice! Of course, the logical question is, how do you prevent it from falling through the grill grating? The answer is: don’t put it on the grill grating. Put it on a baking sheet.
Here’s the recipe for an amazing fried rice at home, on the grill.
- Japanese short grain sushi rice or any other sticky rice, 8 cups cooked
- Sesame oil, 1 tsp
- Soy sauce, 4 tbsp
- Sugar, 1 tbsp
- Butter, unsalted, 1 tbsp
- Peanut or other high-heat tolerant vegetable oil, 1 tbsp
- Sesame seeds
- Cook the rice in a rice cooker according to the manufacturer’s directions.
- Let the rice cool until you can comfortably handle it, about 120F/49C.
- Pre-heat your grill to high.
- While the rice cools, melt the butter.
- Combine melted butter, sesame oil, and vegetable oil together.
- Brush a large baking sheet with 2/3 of the mixed oil. Reserve 1/3.
- Mix soy sauce and sugar together in a small cup until the sugar is dissolved.
- Fold sesame seeds into the cooled rice.
- Spread the rice over the baking sheet in a thin, compact layer. Press down to ensure it’s compacted.
- Using a brush, lightly spread the remaining oil over the surface of the rice after it’s spread over the baking sheet.
- Place the baking sheet on the grill and grill for 3-5 minutes until the bottom of the rice turns a light brown. Do not let it burn!
- Once the first side is lightly browned, use a spatula and flip portions of the rice like burgers to the other side.
- Cook the second side until lightly browned.
- Lightly drizzle the soy sauce on the cooked rice while it is still on the grill.
- Remove rice from grill immediately and serve.
The key to this recipe is the rice. If you use a long grain, non-sticky rice, you’re going to have a really bad time. Sticky rices form patties, essentially, making the rice much easier to cook on the grill.
Enjoy this recipe!
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Also published on Medium.