Thursday, December 18, 2008

Comfort Food: Shrimp Fried Rice

NOTE: This is an awful picture, I admit it. This is the beginning of my food blogging journey. My photos have come a long way.  Don't let the underexposed photo deter you from trying this recipe. It really is a good one! Someday, I will re-shoot the photo. I really need to.

For some reason, I've been on an Asian kick. It's a phase, that should turn into a craving for Italian or Mexican food. But, for now, I'm focusing on Thai and other Asian food. I made rice just two days ago. I wanted to think of a way to use leftover rice. I love rice pudding, but that's one of the few things my husband doesn't like-- so that wasn't an option.

Today, I'm home trying to get better. I have bronchitis, and I can't talk beyond a very hoarse (and sometimes squeaky) whisper. I wanted something quick for dinner-- fried rice! The only time I've made this was with the assistance of a packet mix. There once was a time when I relied on packaged mixes, but that has changed. I'm always on a quest to learn how to make things from scratch. So, I googled "how to make fried rice". Since I was home, sick (and bored), I watched a few videos. There are a lot of variations and techniques, so I decided to try my own version based on what sounded good. One thing I know, for certain, is to NOT use freshly cooked rice. There's too much moisture in it, and you'll end up with mush. Trust me. I also read that it's best to cook a lot of the ingredients, separately, to distinguish the flavors. One recipe used garlic and ginger, which I usually keep on hand. So, I went to my pantry and got started. Dinner was ready in less than 15 minutes.

I bought a wok years ago-- a non-stick version by Circulon. So far, it's worked great. Maybe, someday, I'll buy an authentic steel wok, but I didn't measure, so I'm going to give "approximate measures". It was a fast and delicious meal. It's all gone, too.

Sesame Oil (I used toasted sesame oil from Trader Joe's)
Vegetable oil (for the wok)
4 cups of cooked rice (I used Jasmine rice, 2 days old)
2 garlic cloves, minced
1-2 tsp fresh minced garlic (optional)
1 Tbsp. Oyster Sauce
1 Tbsp. Fish sauce
Dash low-sodium soy sauce (optional)
1/2 lb. cooked shrimp (you can use anything-- pork, chicken, beef, tofu)
2-3 Scallions, diced on the bias
Frozen peas, thawed (about 1/2- 1 cup)
Shredded carrots (about 1/2 cup)
2 eggs, beaten

You want to heat the wok at hot as you can get it and have all of your ingredients prepped and ready to go. You also want to break up any clumps in the rice with your hands.
Using about 2 tsp of sesame oil, cook the meat for 1-2 minutes. Empty onto a plate and set aside. Add some vegetable oil (I don't want to overdo the sesame oil) and add vegetables, garlicr. Stir and cook for about a minute, being careful not to burn the garlic. Remove and set aside and wipe the wok.
Add a little more oil (about 1 tsp) and cook the eggs until just cooked but not dry.
Add the rice and stir for about a minute.
Add the oyster sauce*, fish sauce** and soy (if desired)
Return shrimp and vegetables to the rice.
Add the thawed peas.
Stir and serve. Yields about 4 servings.

Oyster Sauce and fish sauce horrify a lot of people (as it did me, in the beginning). I can assure you that these ingredients give so much authentic and good flavor in Asian cooking. Please, try it! If you can't handle the thought of either ingredient (and you'll miss out) then use soy sauce all by itself.

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