Shrimp Fried Rice will satisfy your craving for Chinese food with fewer calories, will cost you less, and it doesn’t sacrifice one ounce of flavor.
It’s no secret that I love Asian cuisine, and I always have. I love the flavors, the variety, and the quality. It’s pretty consistent, no matter where you go. I can’t think of a single Asian restaurant where I haven’t liked things on the menu. Until a few years ago, Asian restaurants added MSG in the food and you were hungry again about 30 minutes after a meal. Thankfully they no longer do that. Now, the only down side with Asian food from a restaurant is that many dishes are high in calories and sodium. But don’t get me wrong, it sure doesn’t stop me from eating it!
A few years ago I decided to try my hand at making some of my favorite Asian dishes. I bought the pre-made sauces at the grocery store, but most are high in sodium. Besides, I never use the entire jar so it always eventually went to waste. Then, with the help of Pinterest, I discovered that most of the sauces are easy to make at home. Of course, some of the sauce ingredients are still items I have to buy at the store, but at least I can mix and match, and make a variety of recipes.
Growing up, I always did fried rice as the side at restaurants. Over time I made the switch to steamed rice for a healthier option, and since then I don’t think I’ve ordered fried rice at a restaurant. I still really like fried rice, and watched my mom make it occasionally, but it never occurred to me to try it myself. Also, I hardly ever have sticky rice in the house because I rarely get takeout from Asian restaurants.
Finally about 2 years ago I had some leftover sticky rice. So I took the plunge and made vegetarian fried rice. One bite, and I couldn’t understand why I waited so long. It is simple to make and delicious. A few weeks later I was craving it again, but wanted to add protein for a complete meal. Pinterest came to the rescue with Chinese Style Shrimp Fried Rice made by Creole Contessa, one of my favorite fellow bloggers. It looked delicious, so I made a few tweaks to make it my own Shrimp Fried Rice
Wow, this Shrimp Fried Rice has so much flavor. The rice is incredibly simple to make, and comes together in minutes. I saute the vegetables in margarine, as I find it has more flavor than oil. Of course you can use real butter; but if you’re cutting calories, then margarine (or Smart Balance spread, in my case) works just as well. I’ve never found fresh peas in the grocery store, so I always have a bag of frozen peas handy. I usually use frozen corn, but will use fresh corn when it’s available. I always use fresh for the other vegetables. I’m not sure if “authentic” fried rice uses garlic, but I add garlic to everything.
I found several recipes that say to use regular cooked rice. I guess you could, but then it’s not really authentic. You have to go sticky rice, whether you get it from an Asian restaurant or make your own. I haven’t taken on the challenge of sticky rice, and it’s much easier to just get an extra order at the restaurant. We have a great sushi restaurant just a few miles from my house, so when I’m craving fried rice I pick up some sushi and a side of steamed rice.
The biggest challenge I have with this Shrimp Fried Rice is the shrimp itself. On my very first attempt, I didn’t use enough of the cornstarch/flour mixture, so it looked like simple grilled shrimp. The next time I went overboard on the mixture, and I could taste the flour. Let me assure you, that is not a good flavor. Shrimp cooks quickly, and I’ve made the mistake of leaving it in the pan too long to get that gorgeous color. I’ve improved significantly with practice; lightly dredge the shrimp, shake off the excess, and make sure the oil in the pan is hot enough.
I’ve used both fresh and frozen shrimp for this Shrimp Fried Rice. I always prefer fresh shrimp, but I only get that when I go to the seafood market in Tulsa. And I don’t do that very often. However, frozen shrimp is a very good substitute. I always use jumbo (21-26 count) shrimp; however, smaller shrimp would work just as well.
Shrimp Fried Rice is definitely part of my regular recipe rotation. But I do need to branch out and try it with other types of protein.
Recipe adapted from Creole Contessa
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For more Asian-inspired recipes, click on the photos below!