This post is about taking the shrimp fried rice to the next level.
I have written two fried rice related posts before, How to cook the best Chinese fried rice with only six ingredients and How to prepare the best restaurant-style fried rice. So why the third?
The idea to write this post is sparked during dinner when I order a plate of shrimp fried rice last week in a Michelin awarded restaurant. The fried rice was good, but I have pre-visualized my dreamed fried rice, which looks and taste differently.
Improvise a restaurant-style shrimp fried rice
So I have a daring attempt to improve the fried rice of a famous restaurant to yield the dream shrimp fried rice that picture in my mind. (Note: Please note that I am not at all to challenge any award-winning restaurant, but want to develop my own version by building on a masterful plate of fried rice from this restaurant, and save a lot of time to create from scratch.)
I hope this post is equally useful for anyone who wishes to improvise a great recipe with your personal touch.
The essence of the dish remains – plenty of shrimps, eggs, and the rice is soft and chewy, but I switch it up with beans and carrot cubes and add plenty of minced garlic and chopped scallions.
Here is the final result:
Let’s get into the detail:
Here is my plan on how to upgrade the fried rice
- The shrimps are not seasoned with salt and look like cooked by boiling them or pan-fried briefly. I will make a point to season it with salt and sear both sides until slightly brown.
- Pan-fried the shrimps in oil and use the shrimp’s oil to fry the rice subsequently. The rice will absorb the flavor of the shrimps.
- Coat the rice with the egg yolks. I like the color Golden Fried rice that is popular in Hong Kong. So I think it is a good idea to coat the rice with egg yolk to let the rice has a bright yellow color.
- Separate the egg whites from the yolks. Fry the egg whites until turns into white strips. Break it into small pieces and mix with the rice. This method will an additional color to the rice, which makes it looks more appetizing.
- Scallion has an excellent flavor to compliment with fried rice. Use scallion to fry the rice as well as for garnishing.
- There is insufficient wok aroma of what I have in the restaurant. I would prefer to have more wok aroma by frying it over high heat at the end to the cooling process.
- I prefer a more colorful presentation so I add some diced carrots, corns and green peas. That also give shapes and dimension to the shrimp fried rice.
- Perfectly pan fried garlic which is crispy and golden brown are used to prepare the Japanese garlic fried rice. I will add this into the recipe to added flavor and color.
How to cook the excellent fried rice (the detail of each step)
1. Fried the garlic
Garlic is the most common one, followed by shallot. I use only garlic only in this recipe.
Mince or chop the garlic. Saute the chopped garlic over low heat until it is crispy and golden brown. Stain the garlic through a wire mesh strainer and keep aside. I will fry the garlic separately so that the garlic is clean and tidy for garnishing. Use the garlic flavor oil to pan-fried the shrimps subsequently.
Alternatively, you can also cut the garlic thinly and fry until golden brown, then shatter it into pieces and sprinkle on the rice.
If you want to use chopped shallot, I suggest to caramelize it slightly in the wok before adding the rice at the initial stage.
2. Season and brown the shrimps
Fresh shrimps are the best, although it is not mandatory. Nevertheless, use frozen shrimps if you intend to cook with leftover rice and other foods in your refrigerator.
The price of the shrimp fried rice normally depends on the size of the shrimps. Throwing in a few large shrimps will guarantee to fetch a higher price in the restaurants. As for the home cooks, I suggest using the medium size shrimps, which tastes equally good.
Clean the shrimps the standard way – remove the head, shells and deveined. Some people prefer to leave the tail on for better presentation, but it is not practical as no one prefers to have bone and shelves in the fried rice.
Some cooks will throw in the raw shrimps to the wok and start stir-frying than add the remaining ingredients. While this is a quick way to cook, I prefer to pan fry both sides of the shrimps and season with salt and pepper. , remove from the pan/wok and add back to the rice later. Searing the shrimps with the garlic oil can develop a better flavor. Remove it from the wok at this stage keep them clean and prevent overcooked.
3. Types of rice that is suitable for frying
Leftover rice or freshly steamed rice?
You can fry either leftover rice or freshly steamed rice, but the method is slightly different.
Remove the leftover rice from the fridge in advance as it can be quite cold and hard. Once it returns to room temperature, break the lumps gently with your clean hands (or with gloves) to separate the rice grains. We want to coat each grain with the egg yolk, so this is an essential step.
Use freshly cooked rice
On the other hand, if you intend to fry a large batch of rice, cook the rice specifically for this purpose.
You may want to cook the rice a little drier than the regular steamed rice. Tice with too much moisture tends to stick easily to the wok.
To do this, wash the rice with plenty of water until the water runs clear. There are two purposes why you need to clean the rice. First. It removes any dirt and debris if any. Secondly, it also washes away the starch. Too much starch can be quite sticky and difficult to fry.
You can control the stickiness at this stage.
- Use a different type of rice. If you want the fried rice to be sticky, e.g., Japanese garlic fried rice, rinse only once or twice to retain part of the starch. The rice will be stickier.
- Rinse away the starch. Rinse with plenty of water to remove as much starch as possible, if you want the rice to be less sticky. The choice is yours. The Japanese like to use the short grain rice which is more sticky, whereas the Chinese prefer the long grain rice which is less starchy.
I prefer to be less sticky, so I washed the rice until the water runs clear.
After the rice is cooked, remove it from the rice cooker and spread thinly on a large metal tray. Place it at an open area or under the fan. This step can let the steam escape quickly, and the texture will become more or less like the leftover rice.
Break the lumps
Whether you use the overnight rice or freshly cooked rice, separate the sticky lumps of rice into individual grains as much as you can. It’s a bad idea to use the metal wok spatula to break up the lumps, as this action will break the rice grains. The rice will not look presentable.
Large lumps of rice are not suitable for frying. The eggs will not effectively coat the rice grains, and the heat is unable to reach the rice within the lumps. The fried rice will not be aromatic and evenly seasoned
4. How to add the eggs to the fried rice
There are two common ways you can add the eggs to the shrimp fried rice. For example, the egg white fried rice I tried in Hong Kong, only cooked with the egg white. So keep it open and choose a way that you like.
- Method 1: Make a scrambled egg, break it with the wok spatula into small pieces and then mix with the rice. You will see individual pieces of egg.
- Method 2: Mix the raw eggs with the cooked rice. Let the egg coats the rice grains. The egg will form a thin layer on the surface of the rice turn them into yellowish pearls.
I am the proponent of method 2, i.e., separate the yolk and the white.
Here are the steps:
The egg yolk
– Separate the egg yolks from the white.
– Add the egg yolks to the rice with some oil in the wok. Mix the rice with the yolks over low heat. Stir and flip to avoid it from sticking.
– Stir and flip until the egg yolk is set. Now each rice grains are coated. You can visualize there are hundreds of small omelet encased the rice within.
– Now you can stir-fry the rice over high heat. The egg protects the starch from the rice from contacting the surface of the wok. Therefore, it will never stick even over high heat (and do not need to add additional oil).
The egg white
– Remove the rice from the wok.
– Add some oil and start to fry the egg white.
– Use the wok spatula to break the egg white into small pieces once it turns opaque.
– Return the rice to the wok and stir-fry together with the egg whites.
5. The vegetables
Fried rice does not need plenty of leafy vegetables. We use kangkong (water spinach) to the Indonesian style fried rice (called nasi goreng). Apart from this, leafy vegetables are not a common ingredient.
Most of the Chinese fried rice include plenty of chopped scallion, with no exception to this recipe.
We often underestimate the amount of scallion required, as the abundance of chopped scallion will quickly wither and vanish in the rice quickly. Don’t worry there is too much scallion, and by all means use the green and white sections.
I also add some diced carrot, corn and green peas. They may not be the traditional ingredients for the authentic Chinese fry rice, but this combination drastically improves the appearance of fried rice. The mixed beans are becoming popular among the Chinese, Indonesian as well as the Malay fried rice due to its colorful presentation.
Leafy vegetable (lettuce, choy sum, etc.) are not very suitable to pair with other ingredients. If you want, cut them into short pieces so that they will mix with the rice quickly.
Other important aspects of cooking fried rice
Fried rice with pork and chicken
The most common meat item in Chinese fried rice is barbecue pork (Char Siu, 叉烧). The famous Young Chow Fried Rice include both shrimps and Char Siu, although many people claim that the Young Chow fried rice does not use any one of them. People often take this shrimp fried rice synonymous to Chinese fried rice, which is not the case. In fact, there are many different ways to prepare fried rice in Chinese apart from Young Chow fried rice.
Besides pork, other common meat items are beef and chicken.
Type of oil that is suitable for stir-frying
Peanut oil, corn oil, palm oil are all suitable for this recipe. These oils have a high smoking point, which is stable even stir-frying at high heat, which is recommended.
If you are concern about the health aspects of some oils, you can use olive oil. However, you have to be careful not to fry the rice at high heat as it has a lower smoking point. Since only high temperature can generate the signature wok aroma, it may not resembles entirely as what you get at the Chinese restaurants. Besides, olive oil does not have a neutral flavor, which may not be considered as the authentic ingredients for Asian fried rice. Nevertheless, you might not want to follow a recipe squarely, and make any change as long as you like it.
The cooking utensils
The best cooking utensil for fried rice is a well-seasoned cast iron wok. A well-seasoned wok has a nonstick surface and is suitable to fry over high heat. The round bottom shape of wok will prevent the rice from falling off the edge during stir-frying.
A large cast iron skillet can be the alternative to the wok. Non-stick pan comes to the third as it cannot withstand high heat, although it can prevent the rice from sticking to the pan.
How to cook the shrimp fried rice to get the best result
This serves as the step-by-step guide of this recipe.
Garlic and shrimps
To begin with, add two tablespoons of vegetable oil in a small pan over low heat.
- Add one tablespoon of minced/chopped garlic and start to saute it slowly until it turns golden brown. This step is delicate as the garlic burn quickly over high heat.
- Remove the garlic from the oil immediately when it reaches the desired golden color. Otherwise, the garlic will become too dark and bitter.
- Pour the fried garlic through wire mesh strainer. Keep the garlic and use the oil to cook the shrimps in the wok.
Add some salt and white pepper to the shrimps and mix well.
Arrange the shrimps in the pan and sears both side slowly until they are slightly charred. Keep it at low to medium heat so that you have better control of the doneness of the shrimps. Once they turn slightly golden, remove and keep aside.
- You may wonder why I do not cook the garlic and shrimp in the wok, which is used to fried the rice subsequently.
Yes, I can do that, and that is the way we cook a large quantity in the restaurant. However, I am looking for the best result, and by frying the garlic in a separate pan, I can make sure that the garlic and the shrimps have a clean finishing. This method yields a better presentation of course, and I think it should be the way to go for a fine-dining standard fried rice. (When you go for a five-course omakase, you will not want to see even a speck of burnt garlic in the shrimp fried rice, don’t you? ).
Next, Pour the garlic shrimp oil in the pan int the wok.
- The shrimps and garlic oil plays an essential role to flavor the rice. The concept is similar to prepare agleo e oleo pasta, which the oil is used to flavor the pasta. In this case, the oil will flavor the rice.
- Crack two eggs. Separate the yolk from the whites. Add the yolks and all the cooked rice to the wok over low heat. Mix the rice with the egg quickly before the eggs yolk harden. Let the egg yolk coat the surface of each rice grain.
- This step is to make sure every rice grain turns yellowish, with a thin layer of omelet encase the rice inside. It does not only make it looks attractive but protects the rice within and prevents it from sticking to the wok, even stir-fries over high heat.
- Increase the heat slowly. The eggs will tend to stick to the wok if the temperature is too high. Reduce the heat if you find that it tends to stick until the egg is fully cooked before putting it on higher heat again.
- Push the rice to the side of the wok. Add the egg white to the center, and have a quick stir with the spatula to form it into short strands.
Why do I separate the egg white from the yolks? The primary reason is for a better presentation. By doing so, you will get the rice coated with egg yolk (yellow) and scattered with strands of egg whites. This concept is taken from the golden fried rice (黄金炒饭) that is famous in Hong Kong.
Add the seasonings
Once the eggs are fully cooked, turn up the heat.
Season the rice with salt.
At this stage, you can also add some premium grade light soy sauce. However, the color of bright yellow rice grains will be darkened.
Therefore, the use of soy sauce depends on whether you want to keep it clean and straightforward or wish to have a more complex flavor. I prefer the beautiful bright yellow, and happy with the taste of the garlic and the shrimps.
The final touch
Lastly, add some mixed beans if you want. Return the shrimps and the fried garlic to the wok.
Add the chopped scallions.
Turn to high heat and stir fry for half a minute. Dish out.
For plating, you can arrange the shrimps on top of the rice, garnish with more chopped scallions and fried garlic.
The Shrimp Fried Rice Recipe
- 250 g cooked rice
- 2 tbsp vegetable oil
- 1 tbsp garlic, chopped
- 6 shrimps, medium size, clean and devein
- 2 eggs
- 2 tbsp chopped scallions
- 40 g mixed beans, (carrots, green peas, corns)
- 1/2 tsp salt
- Add two tablespoons of vegetable oil in a small pan over low heat.
- Add one tablespoon of minced/chopped garlic and start to saute it slowly until it turns golden brown. Remove the garlic from the oil immediately by pouring the fried garlic through wire mesh strainer. Keep the garlic and use the oil to cook the shrimps in the wok.
- Add some salt and white pepper to the shrimps and mix well.
- Arrange the shrimps in the wok and sears both side slowly until they are slightly charred. Remove and keep aside.
- Crack two eggs. Separate the yolk from the whites.
- Add the yolks and all the cooked rice to the wok over low heat. Mix the rice with the egg quickly before the eggs yolks harden.
- Increase the heat slowly. Push the rice to the side of the wok. Add the egg white to the center, and have a quick stir with the spatula to form it into short strands.
- Season the rice with salt.
- Add some mixed beans and chopped scallions. Return the shrimps and the fried garlic to the wok.
- Turn to high heat and stir fry for half a minute. Dish out.
- Arrange the shrimps on top of the rice, garnish with more chopped scallions and fried garlic.
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Amount Per Serving: Calories: 945 Total Fat: 39g Saturated Fat: 6g Trans Fat: 1g Unsaturated Fat: 31g Cholesterol: 435mg Sodium: 1706mg Carbohydrates: 109g Fiber: 13g Sugar: 11g Protein: 38g