What's the difference between Thai fried rice and Chinese fried rice?

Panang Curry

Aside from our opinion that Thai fried rice is superior, the most obvious two differences are the rice and soy sauce. But what does that mean for you and your gut?

Jasmine rice vs other white rice

Jasmine rice is a rice that is native to Thailand, but it also used in Chinese restaurants. There are several differences between white rice and Jasmine rice that we should highlight, starting with nutritional profile.

Long-grain white riceJasmine rice
Protein4 grams4 grams
Fat0 grams1 gram
Carbs36 grams39 grams
Fiber1 gram1 gram
Calcium2% of Daily Value2% of Daily Value
Iron0% of Daily Value2% of Daily Value

1 cup (140 grams) serving nutritional values (Source: Healthline)

If you're counting calories, you should take note of the difference, although minor. What's most interesting is that Jasmine rice has iron and some fat. Both are good for you. Other than that, expect great variations in the types of white rice you can find, compared to the more uniform variety on the Jasmine rice side.

The overall consistency in fluffiness and sticky texture levels make it a great general-purpose rice to cook with. But Jasmine rice does come in colors other than white too, namely brown, red, purple, and black. They all taste differently and have slightly different textures. What makes Jasmine rice so uniquely special and difficult to replace is the aroma. It smells heavenly and there is nothing anyone can do about it!

White rice's ubiquitous presence can be felt everywhere, including rice used in Thai desserts like sticky rice with mango.

Soy Sauce and the Gluten-free Dilemma

Golden mountain sauce

This is where it matters more for those with dietary gluten restrictions, because Chinese fried rice uses soy sauce whereas Thai does not. Some say it's because soy sauce is Chinese, but it's really not about it being Chinese. Almost all Asian food can be traced to a Chinese dynasty, so let's not get ahead of ourselves here. All that matters is this: Thai fried rice is gluten-free and Chinese fried rice is not, by default.

But why does Thai fried rice taste so much better then? They must be adding something else to it? Right? Right? Well, that's Golden Mountain. This is Thai cuisine's answer to seasoning and much like soy sauce, it is high in sodium.

Is Chinese fried rice more oily?

Well, yes and no. A lot of people think of Chinese buffet fried rice, where there isn't an equivalent Thai buffet to compare with. Buffet food is typically of lower quality ingredients or prepared by the best cooks, so it is common to find it oily and bland.

So, if you're comparing with buffet fried rice, then probably yes. Otherwise, it really is a case by case basis. We don't like oily foods and so we keep things to a minimum.

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