Even though I consider myself to be one of Sendik’s greatest fans, there are some days when I just plain don’t feel like putting on lipstick and going to the store. I hope this doesn’t lower your opinion of me. While on most days, I do so adore going grocery shopping, sometimes I just don’t have it in me.
Yesterday was one of those days… I just. Couldn’t. Do it.
Fried rice is my standard fall-back dinner on days like yesterday. The whole DamFam LOVES fried rice! If you keep a few staples hangin’ around your pantry, fridge, and freezer, you’ll be able to throw together a huge batch of fried rice any day of the week — without having to waste good lipstick and hairspray so that you look presentable at the store!
Now, brace yourselves for a bit of life changing information. I’m about to give you a few tips for perfect fried rice. Here we go!
First of all, it is highly important (and this really can’t be stressed enough) to start out with cooked rice that is both cold and dry. You can’t make good fried rice out of a batch freshly cooked, steaming hot rice. It just won’t work; trust me, I know these things. Hot rice will stick together in a big, yucky, starchy glob and will only lead to dinnertime disappointment and untold sorrow.
Luckily, a wee bit forethought will help you avoid such dreadful issues. I like to make my rice in the morning. Immediately after it’s finished cooking, I spread it on a cookie sheet to let the steam escape and cool it down quickly, then I put the cookie sheet in the fridge (uncovered) for the whole day.
My favorite types of rice are basmati or jasmati, although sometimes I use jasmine if I have it on hand. Definitely do not use converted rice (like Uncle Ben’s), and absolutely, positively do not use Minute Rice.
Repeat after me: Minute Rice is from the devil. It’s true.
Ideally you’ll need a wok, or at the very least a giant sauté pan. Have everything prepped and ready to go before you start cooking, because once you start the stir-fry process, things will happen very quickly — you won’t have time to stop and finish slicing and dicing! I like to have all of my ingredients organized in separate bowls on a cookie sheet. I’ve used this system for years. Makes me feel quite organized and efficient.
Lastly, maintain a screamingly hot pan throughout the entire cooking process. You might have to wait a minute in between cooking the various ingredients so that the pan comes back up to temperature before continuing. That’s okay.
And there you have it. Economical, delicious, and a great way to avoid driving to the store!
If I don’t have shrimp on hand, I also love to make this with diced ham steak. Actually, my kids prefer it with ham over the shrimp! If you choose to use ham, skip the cornstarch/salt step.
SHRIMP FRIED RICE
Serves: 5 Hungry Damrons, plus a little leftover for lunch the next day.
- 8 oz. raw shrimp, peeled and deveined, cut into small pieces
- ½ t. cornstarch
- ¼ t. salt
- Neutral cooking oil
- 1 medium onion, diced
- 3 scallions, thinly sliced
- 1 can diced water chestnuts, drained
- 3 eggs, beaten with a splash of dry sherry (about a teaspoon)
- 4 c. cold cooked rice
- 1 c. frozen peas and carrots, thawed
- Fresh bean sprouts, big handful (optional)
- 1 T. soy sauce (or more to taste)
Toss the shrimp with the cornstarch and salt and set aside for 10 minutes.
Place a wok or a very large sauté pan over high heat. The wok will be ready when a drop of water sizzles and evaporates almost immediately upon contact with the pan. Pour 1 tablespoon of oil into the wok and swirl around to coat. Add the shrimp in one layer. Allow them to cook undisturbed for a minute or so. Flip them over (I like to use a pair of tongs) and allow them to cook undisturbed for another minute or so on the second side. Remove to a plate and set aside.
Pour an additional tablespoon of oil into the wok and swirl to coat. Pour in the beaten eggs, and scramble them very quickly until nearly done. Slide eggs out onto the plate with the shrimp. Cut the eggs into small pieces.
Pour another tablespoon of oil into the wok, and swirl to coat. Add the onion, scallions, and water chestnuts. Stir fry for three to four minutes, or until onion is softened. Remove vegetables to the plate with the eggs and the shrimp.
Add one more tablespoon of oil to the wok and swirl to coat (hey, I never said this was a low fat recipe). Add the rice to the wok. Spread it out so that as much rice as possible is touching the surface of the pan. Cook the rice undisturbed for two minutes or so (it should definitely be sizzling). Using a wooden paddle or spatula, flip the rice over and continue to cook on the other side for another minute or so. Add to the pan the shrimp, eggs, onions, peas and carrots, bean sprouts, and soy sauce. Toss everything together; cook for a few minutes so that everything is warmed through. Scoop in to bowls and serve, passing additional soy sauce at the table.
Posted by Leah DamronLeah Damron is an avid home cook who believes in using the freshest ingredients available, and she challenges herself weekly to create meals out of (mostly!) sale items. If Sendik's ever gave a title for "Biggest Fan", she believes she would win, hands down. Leah lives in greater Milwaukee with her husband, three children, and her big black lab, Daisy."
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