Fried rice is a popular Asian dish uniquely prepared in many countries including, but not exclusively, Thailand, Burma, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Korea, Japan, Indonesia, and the Philippines. It is believed to have originated in China and it is sometimes served as the penultimate dish in Chinese banquets, just before dessert. Many popular varieties have their own specific list of ingredients but the beauty of this dish is it can accommodate any number of food combinations depending on what is available seasonally and your personal preferences. As a homemade dish, it is typically made with leftover ingredients (including vegetables, meat, or seafood) leading to countless variations. Leftover rice is perfect for this but if not available, fear not. You can make it fresh but it works best if rice is cooled before frying. Spread out onto a baking sheet and place in the refrigerator for best results. The most common form, found in American Chinese restaurants, consists of some mixture of eggs, scallions, and vegetables with meat, seafood or tofu added at the customer’s discretion. It is easily adapted to vegetarians or vegans. Flavored with soy sauce, as opposed to salt, it can vary in appearance from dark brown, often seen in East Coast establishments, to a light brown frequently seen in the Midwest. It is extremely versatile as rice serves as a blank canvas.
One common complaint I have with preparations I’ve encountered is it is often very oily giving it an unappealing mouth feel and adding a lot of “fat” calories. The recipe I developed for today’s feature reduces the amount of oil used by blanching the more fibrous vegetables like broccoli requiring less time in the wok/skillet with the added benefit of setting vibrant color.
Here’s how it goes down.
FRIED RICE with SHRIMP Serves 4
Recipe by Jeanne Raffetto Tentis
1c broccoli florets
3T peanut or other neutral cooking oil, divided
1 medium red or yellow bell pepper, cut into thin strips
1 c snow peas, trimmed
3 c cooked long-grain white rice, chilled (or rice of choice)
1 lb. large shrimp, peeled and deveined
2T dark sesame oil
2T grated peeled fresh ginger
1/4 c soy sauce
1 1/2 T rice vinegar, preferably unseasoned
1 t Sriracha (hot chili sauce) or more if you like
3 scallions, sliced, separating the greens from the white parts
- Blanch broccoli until crisp-tender; set aside in a large bowl.
- Heat a large skillet or wok over medium-high heat. Add 1T oil to pan. Add bell pepper, snow peas and stir-fry for 2 minutes. Place vegetable mixture in a large bowl with broccoli.
- Add remaining 2T oil to pan; swirl to coat. Add ginger, and stir-fry for 10 seconds. Add rice, and stir-fry for 5 minutes or until rice is lightly browned. Remove rice mixture from pan, and add rice to bowl with the vegetable mixture.
- Scrape any remaining bits from pan. Return pan to medium-high heat. Add sesame oil to pan; swirl to coat. Add shrimp; stir-fry 1 minute, remove and add to rice and vegetable mixture. Stir in soy sauce, vinegar, and Sriracha; bring to a boil. Cook briefly until liquid thickens slightly. Add vegetable/rice/shrimp mixture and white parts of scallions; stir to combine. Cook for 1 minute or until thoroughly heated, stirring frequently.
- Serve immediately. Garnish with green parts of scallion.
This can serve as a side dish or as a main course depending what you choose for ingredients. My preference is to represent all the food groups so I have a one pot meal, quick and easy. Most often fried rice finds itself on the menu when I have a variety of fresh vegetables needing to make their journey from the refrigerator to stove to my belly. Leftover proteins like chicken, pork or tofu also provide inspiration. The sriracha provides some depth and heat, controlled by how much you use. No sriracha in your pantry? Hot sauce, Sambal Oelek (ground fresh chili paste), finely chopped Thai chilies or crushed red pepper flakes could be substituted. Even if you are shy about heat, I urge you to add a small amount as it’s another layer of flavor that contributes to the balance of the dish. One other note about the rice. The preparation in the photos is made with brown basmati but I have used many types of rice; white, brown, basmati, jasmine and black depending on what was on hand and how the spirit moves me.
Whether you are an untethered soul or a traditionalist, this is a the recipe for you. Stick to form or go crazy but keep spreading the love, one comforting dish at a time. Spring is come and go in this part of the country but I hear ramps are on the horizon so maybe next week’s creation with include these beautiful seasonal treats. Hanging onto hopes for the season.
Until next time, love flows from my kitchen to yours. Jeanne