A few nights ago I found myself with a curious, intense craving for fried rice. This is pretty unusual; I don’t like Chinese takeout all that much and when I do get a craving for something with rice, vegetables, and an Asian hue, I almost always turn to my trusty neighborhood companion for green curry. (Want. Now.)
This time was different, though. My quest to tend towards homemade these past few months led me to a quick online search to see if I could replicate fried rice within my own home and with a relative degree of healthiness and freshness. When recipe after recipe pointed towards ingredients I mostly had at home and could easily buy on my way back from work, I knew they were destined for fried rice glory in a manner that would allow me to control what went into the dish instead of resigning myself to the whims of the Chinese place down the block deciding whether they’d like to add MSG or pork to my meal even after I asked them not to.
Challenging myself a little bit in the kitchen has become one of my new goals, too, these days. While I could certainly live on cookies and various forms of tomato sauce smothered pasta for the rest of my life, my blog probably wouldn’t be all that exciting to read if that’s all I talked about (Darn!). Asian-style cooking isn’t exactly my forte, but my new cooking motto is “Bring it ON,” so I knew this would be an opportunity to do just that. I even made this meal non-vegetarian and braved the fact that I knew my apartment would smell like shrimp for approximately 2 days after I made this. It was worth it, though.
The key to this fried rice recipe is to cook it in layers. Each set of ingredients gets its own time in the pan, which avoids over-crowding and blandness. The rice for this recipe should be day-old, if possible, so if you can remember to cook it the night before, cover it and refrigerate it until you need it, your rice will avoid getting clumpy or mushy, and will be sturdier and better able to stand up to the other ingredients in the dish. (No worries if you need to use just-made rice, though. The taste will be the same.)
This dish, once completed, is a great balance of healthy and satisfying. Its composition of shrimp, brown rice, and sauteed vegetables lend it a comforting heartiness which will fill you very well, but won’t leave you feeling bloated or gross, which are often feelings I’ll get from eating take-out Chinese food. This dish won’t fool you into thinking it’s take-out, but it doesn’t need to; it’s healthful, thoughtful, and serves as a great stand in when you’re itching for something homemade.
One more thing. This recipe is very adaptable so you can omit the shrimp and add tofu or leftover chicken if you’d prefer. Feel free to substitute snap peas, green peas, bell peppers, or any other vegetables you have around for any of the vegetables I mentioned above. This dish will work with just about anything, and it’s easy to switch things in or out according to preferences and what you’ve got hanging around in your crisper.
One Year Ago: Creamy Polenta with Mushroom Ragout
Shrimp Fried Rice
Yield: 4 servings
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 45 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour
4 teaspoons canola oil, divided
1 cup crimini mushrooms, sliced
1 red onion, diced
1 cup carrots, peeled and cut into 1 1/2 inch sticks
1 cup broccoli florets
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon fresh ginger, grated
3 tablespoons tamari (or soy sauce), divided
1 1/2 tablespoons water
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
2 cups brown rice, cooked a day ahead
1 pound shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 cup bean sprouts
2 teaspoons red pepper flakes (optional)
3 green onions, chopped, for garnish
1. In a large skillet or wok, saute the onions and mushrooms in 1 teaspoon of oil over medium heat. Cook for 5-8 minutes until soft, seasoning with salt and pepper halfway through. Once done, put in a large bowl and set aside.
2. In the same skillet over medium heat, add another teaspoon of oil and cook the carrots and broccoli with some salt and pepper for 10 minutes, until tender. Add the garlic and cook for one minute more. Drop this mixture into the bowl with the onions and mushrooms and set aside.
3. Using the same skillet again over medium heat, pour in a teaspoon of oil and then the 2 cups of rice. Stir to combine and then add the water, the vinegar and 2 tablespoons of tamari. Spread the rice out in the pan, allowing it to toast evenly for a bit. Stir every few minutes until the rice becomes slightly brown but not burnt, about 5-7 minutes.
4. While the rice is cooking, crack the eggs into a small bowl and whisk well. Once the rice has cooked for 5-7 minutes, pour in the eggs, allowing them to cook fully, making sure to incorporate them with the rice. Once the eggs are cooked, pour the rice and egg mixture into the bowl with the other cooked ingredients.
5. Add one more teaspoon of oil into the large skillet and cook the shrimp for 1-2 minutes on each side, until almost pink but not completely cooked.
6. Add all of the cooked ingredients from the large bowl into the skillet with the shrimp, heating them through again for about 3-5 minutes. While the mixture is cooking, add the bean sprouts, the other tablespoon of tamari (or more, depending on your preferences), and the red pepper flakes, if using. Stir to combine and serve warm, in bowls, topped with a small handful of green onions.
Adapted from the edible perspective