Scientists have just shown how to shake the pan to cook the best rice possible

Undoubtedly, fried rice is the source of life for many students, students and office workers. Surely fried rice fans will have a familiar restaurant, but did you know that the hot crispy fried rice dish is a near-perfect combination of chemistry and physics?

In a new study published in the middle of the month, scientists at the Georgia Institute of Technology created a dynamic model of a pan of fried rice being shaken over a fire, hoping to find out how to roast the rice properly. brown and not burnt.

Scientists have just shown how to shake the pan to cook the best rice possible
Fried rice is a favorite dish of many people.

Indeed, this is a very interesting and useful study, not unlike the projects that the same group has done in the past: the laboratory of Professor David Hu from the Georgia Institute of Technology; They have studied the behavior of fire ants, water spiders (insects that can “strike” on the water), snakes, mosquitoes, wrote a study on the properties of the cat’s tongue and received the 2019 Nobel Prize. about the study “why wombat droppings are cube-shaped”.

Since spending time together researching the physics behind the raft of fire ants, Professor Hu and his student Hungtang Ko have discovered that they have one more thing in common, besides scientific research: The physical aspects that make up a dish, especially Asian fried rice, are almost 1,500 years old.

According to the authors of the new study, shaking the pan on a hot stove ensures that the fried rice has an eye-catching brown color, and that neither the rice nor the food in the pan is burnt. The process of frying rice in a pan creates the “Maillard reaction” : a chemical interaction between amino acids and carbohydrates placed in a high-temperature environment, you can also see this reaction taking place as the meat is cooked and browned.

Scientists have just shown how to shake the pan to cook the best rice possible
How to shake the roasting pan to make sure the fried rice has an eye-catching brown color and the food in the pan does not burn.

Rice pans are inherently not gentle, and shaking the pan can make a chef’s arm tired; According to a survey, up to 64% of Chinese chefs say they suffer from chronic shoulder pain, among other ailments. The two researchers Hu and Ko hope that by understanding the physics behind the shaking of the rice pan, they will reduce shoulder injuries for chefs.

During the two summers of 2018 and 2019, the two researchers filmed the roasting of rice by five chefs working for Taiwanese and Chinese fried rice restaurants, and then relied on the footage to find out how often the pan was shaken. . On average, it takes a chef about 2 minutes to prepare a plate of fried rice, and one roast will require an average of 276 pan shakes, each shaking lasting about ⅓ second.

They announced their preliminary results at the 2018 meeting of the American Physical Council’s Fluid Dynamics Division, and articulated their conclusions in their just-published scientific report. With only two variables, the team successfully modeled the movement of the pan; The model is similar to a double pendulum (one pendulum is attached to another pendulum directly below), because the chef rarely lifts the rice pan off the hot stove’s tripod, but ” always keeps a point of contact.let the pan slide back and forth ”.

Scientists have just shown how to shake the pan to cook the best rice possible

Scientists have just shown how to shake the pan to cook the best rice possible

Their pan model predicts the flight path of the rice based on three factors: the proportions of the rice in the pan, how high the rice flies, and how steep the angle is.

According to the research, there are two distinct phases of shaking the rice pan: pushing the salute forward and rotating the pan clockwise to catch the falling rice, and retracting the pan and rotating the pan counterclockwise to toss the rice. rice up.

Basically, the rice pan has two main movements: a side-to-side movement, and a rocking motion where the left half is tilted high clockwise, and the right half tilted high counterclockwise. “ The key point is to use the hob on the stove as a fulcrum for the rocking motion of the pan ,” the study authors note. Another point worth noting, is that the movement of the pan has the same frequency, only slightly deviated.

A chef must ensure that the rice is constantly leaving the hot pan to cool a bit, because the pan can reach temperatures of up to 1,200 degrees Celsius. That is the key factor for the rice to bring an eye-catching brown color, not blackish.

Scientists have just shown how to shake the pan to cook the best rice possible
Delicious and eye-catching fried rice.

Based on their analysis, researchers Hu and Ko advise chefs to increase the intensity of the pan shaking, and at the same time increase the interval between the two actions of tossing the rice up and preventing the rice from falling. ” This allows the rice to soar higher, allowing it to be more evenly mixed and giving the rice time to cool down ,” the researchers wrote.

The mathematical model related to the rice pan is not just a curiosity study, it is also useful data for robot design. One of the goals that the team of scientists wants to achieve is an exoskeleton to fit on cooks, helping to reduce the rate of shoulder injuries for them.

For a long time, machines have helped cooks do such trivial (but crucial) tasks as chopping onions, deep-frying or flipping cakes; There’s no reason why robot rice roasters aren’t popular in Asia.

That said, engineers have been working forever and still have not come up with an effective rice-roasting robot; there used to be an automatic pan that mimicked the shaking movement of a chef, and then defended the pan to try to stir the rice like a real person, but the fried rice mixture was only mixed but not skillfully flown through the air.

Could this new study change that?