Eat Your Leftovers: Fried Rice (w/ shrimp!)
So in case I haven’t made it clear yet, I take ‘creative’ cooking very seriously. And by that I mean I don’t think cooking should be very serious. While some things do require an attention to detail best left to engineers and architects (such as baking delicate cakes), most cooking, in my opinion, should be much more free form. If you return to this lovely blog, you will notice I’m not one for recipes in their most technical form. I usually measure in handfuls, splashes and pinches. It’s just how I do. (If this bothers you, you can pretend that a handful is a 1/2 a cup, a splash is 1/4 cup of whatever, and a pinch is a 1/2 tsp. But you’d be missing out on the adventure of tasting, adjusting, and best of all — throwing things together.)
Two nights ago I wasn’t feeling too hot (I’m still not, but I can’t sit still for more than like 6 hours to rest), and my boyfriend offered to make dinner. He came home with a bag of fresh shrimp, pasta, pesto etc. and made a delicious pesto pasta with breaded oven-crisp parmesan/garlic shrimp. It was scrumptious. But we (shockingly) did not need to eat over 1/2 lb. of shrimp on pasta between the two of us. So, the next night we had to eat shrimp too… but with what? We hadn’t really been grocery shopping, and shrimp pasta night 2 didn’t seem appealing. LUCKILY, this is where I thrive. Give me a kitchen 1/2 stocked with random stuff and I will make you a dinner you like. I was going to do shrimp stirfry, but realizing how few veggies we really had, it morphed into shrimp fried rice. And it turned out delicious!
So how can you too use your left over shrimp (or chicken, or tofu, or whatever you like really) to make friend rice? Easy.
Step one: Make some rice. It doesn’t really matter what kind, even wild rice works fine. You can all use left over rice if you have some, or left over quinoa, or that 1/2 cup of dry barley you didn’t put in the veggie soup like 6 months ago and has been sitting around. Just find some kind of grain, and cook it. For 2 people, you should have at least a cup of cooked grain when that’s said and done.
Step Two: Sautee up whatever veggies you have around. Onions, celery (even kinda dried out celery hearts), carrots, bell peppers are all great – and if you have any garlic put that in too. I threw in some frozen peas near the end too for more veggie oomph. If you have sesame oil, use that to cook up these veggies, if not olive oil or canola will work. Be creative with your veggies here. Use what you have in the fridge or freezer and don’t be afraid. The worst thing that happens is you pick out the beet bits and learn that beets don’t really fit in a good fried rice (they don’t FYI).
Step Three: Throw in the protein and cook that up too. If it’s leftover, all it should need is to be heated up, so no real big thing here. This is also when you can add some more seasonings to the mix. Garlic salt? Sure. A pinch of ground ginger? Why not. Chicken bouillon if you like it salty – nom. Fresh black pepper, that too. Don’t be shy. The rice and eggs temper any spices so don’t worry.
Step 4: Crack in a few eggs, around one per person being served. This gives your fried rice a little cohesion, and gets rid of a couple eggs if you’re bad at using them (as we tend to be). If you don’t have eggs, it’s fine w/o them, but most people have an egg or two laying around so toss that in.
Step 5: Ok, last step, throw that cooked rice/grain into the pan and toss everything around. The egg will be cooking on the hot pan and veggies, and everything will be grand. At this point you can add any sauce you want, but not too much. So some soy sauce, left over dumpling dipping sauce, teriyaki – whatever. Toss a little in while you fold the veggies, rice, protein and eggs around in the pan. You can even spice it up with some sriracha (I love TheOatmeal) if you’re into that. Let it stick to the pan a little to brown pieces up – it’ll keep it from being too mushy.
Step 6: Eat. Top with anything you like – sesame seeds, left over sprouts from veggie sandwiches, almond slivers… whatever you like. Think of it like a sundae bar, but savory and asian-esque.
See? In like 20 minutes and with absolutely zero planning we had tasty shrimp fried rice. Prevents throwing old veggies out in a week, is decently healthy for you, and avoids anyone in the house from whining that there’s nothing to eat and they’re hangry. Super extra bonus? Great for lunch the next day too.
Enjoy! And let me know what you like to make for your ‘use your leftovers for a meal’ dinners in the comments.
I’ve found the BEST fried rice results with day- or two-day-old rice. Brown rice is especially pleasurable because of the rich taste and chewy texture. If the rice is older, it doesn’t get soggy, can hold up to stir frying, and gets a little crispy even! Mmmmmm… 🙂
Tis true, left over rice IS the best for this. Sadly we had none… but it does make it a good option for camping too. You can make and pack rice, bring a few eggs and chopped veggies and go to town. Huge camping success.