Shrimp & Vegetable Fried Rice
I've been really into my new Smitten Kitchen cookbook - Deb Perlman promises unfussy favorites and she really delivers. Nothing takes terribly long to make and most of the recipes don't require special ingredients. While flipping through the book recently, I came across her barley and spring vegetable fried rice. I'm a big fan of Asian food but I do fall prey to over-seasoning (there is a whole shelf our fridge for my Asian sauces; I may have a problem). In her book, Deb keeps it very simple - a base with ginger, garlic, and spring onions, and very few seasonings. Loosely inspired by that recipe, I've come up with a version below with rice, shrimp, and...MSG!
~A Brief Interlude on MSG~
MSG has been demonized thoroughly by western media but hear me out. It's a Japanese flavor enhancer, meant to kick up the umami flavor in a dish and while you probably don't want to be eating it everyday or in large quantities, a small addition to things like fried rice is perfectly fine. Similar to salt, MSG brings out the flavor in other things but it's not advisable to eat a lot of it. My mother has always had some in her spice cabinet, as do many other Indian home chefs; I actually had no idea it was "bad" until my family moved to the States. And I am biased but my mom makes killer Indo-Chinese food (that's a thing). If you're interested in reading more, NPR did a story on this a while ago, as did Serious Eats. For this recipe, MSG is an optional addition but I highly recommend the addition. You can buy a little shaker on Amazon.
The Method section for this recipe is longer than anything I've posted yet, but everything moves quickly, as is often the case with everyday Chinese food. I've tried to write the steps so that you've prepped most of your ingredients before starting and so that you can be doing a few things simultaneously.
Lastly, I've used dried shiitake mushrooms for this recipe but fresh ones will also do. Dried mushrooms have a more concentrated flavor. Plus, mushrooms that can be hard to find fresh year around (shiitake, morel, etc.) are more readily available in their dried form.
- 1 cup white rice, cooked
- 10-12 peeled, deveined shrimp
- 2-3 green onions, sliced thinly
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 1/2 inch or 1 tbsp ginger minced
- 2 tbsp olive oil + a drizzle
- 1 cup rehydrated dried shiitake mushrooms
- 8-10 stalks of asparagus
- 1 cup edamame
- 1/4 tsp white vinegar
- 1/4 tsp soy sauce
- salt/pepper to taste
- 1/4 tsp MSG (optional)
- Rehydrate the shiitake mushrooms. Heat 1/4 cup water in the microwave for 2 mins and immediately add the dried mushrooms. Set aside for 15-20 mins to let them rehydrate.
- Cook the rice and let it cool. If you're not confident in your rice cooking abilities, buy a serving from your local Thai or Chinese restaurant and refrigerate it for a few hours before making this dish.
- Start by blanching the asparagus and edamame. Bring a pot of water to boil and add the asparagus in for 4 mins. Remove and add to a bowl of cold water with some ice cubes, to stop the cooking process. In the same pot, add the edamame and leave for 5 mins. Remove and add to the same cold water bath as the asparagus.
- Next, put a large pan or wok over medium-high heat and let it heat up fully. Add the ginger, garlic, and green onions. Keep stirring and let cook for 4-6 mins.
- Add the shrimp and toss for 3-4 mins, until light pink on both sides.
- Roughly tear the rehydrated mushrooms and add them to the pan. Cook for 2 mins.
- Use a strainer to drain the edamame and add them to the pan. Cook for 2-4 mins. If the food is getting stuck to the pan, add splashes of the mushroom liquid to deglaze the pan.
- While the edamame is cooking, drain the asparagus and cut at an angle. Set aside for a moment.
- Add your cooked rice, drizzle some olive oil over the rice, and season with salt and pepper. Mix well with the rest of the ingredients in the pan.
- Quickly add the soy sauce, vinegar, and MSG. Mix well.
- Lastly, add the asparagus and mix well. Let cook for an additional minute
- Serve as is or with a crispy egg on top.