Sunday, June 15, 2008

Fried Rice Restaurant Style and Honey Walnut Shrimp

My mother doesn't cook, but my grandmother definitely cooks, a lot, and all day long; you have to when you're feeding a family of eight. My Oma cooks Indonesian food because that's where she grew up, although we are Chinese. Unfortunately, I have not had the pleasure of learning how to cook from her, so I kind of have to wing it on my own when I want to eat dishes reminiscent of my childhood.

This is definitely not my Oma's nasi goreng (Indonesian fried rice) which is sweet from the kecap manis and has chicken, pork, and sometimes shrimp. Deviating from the familiar fried rice that I grew up eating, I used the Fried Rice Restaurant Style recipe that I found on AllRecipes and altered that recipe even further by using brown rice and cooking it in vegetable broth. Although the recipe takes about half an hour from start to finish, I cook the rice the night before and then refrigerate it overnight to prevent the rice from getting soggy. From making this dish several times, I learned that using freshly cooked rice to make fried rice leads to clumpy and unevenly seasoned fried rice because of the moisture content of the fresh cooked rice. I love making fried rice because the dish is incredibly forgiving; you can put anything into it and it will usually turn out pretty good. In the version above, I tossed in whatever frozen vegetables happened to be in the freezer at the time, a crushed garlic clove, and an egg or two. Also, precise measurements aren't terribly necessary, as adding soy sauce and sesame oil is best to personal taste. Sesame oil is very potent in flavor, so I only add a very light drizzle at the end to provide flavor rather than using it to actually stir-fry the rice.

Okay, so my Oma never made Walnut Shrimp because it's a Chinese dish commonly found in Western-influenced and Hong Kong restaurants. In any case, I thoroughly enjoy Walnut Shrimp, which was not so good for my health when I worked at a Chinese restaurant during high school. So as I planned our weekly menu, I figured, "What would go better with the Fried Rice Restaurant Style than Honey Walnut Shrimp from AllRecipes?" I am not sure that the Walnut Shrimp I enjoyed while working through high school were battered and fried, but I decided to follow the recipe on my first attempt to make Honey Walnut Shrimp. The batter in the recipe was extremely thick and I think I went a little dunk-happy, so the fried crust was almost as thick as some of the smaller shrimp. The next time I make this recipe, I might just lightly dust the shrimp in mochiko flour or forgo the batter entirely to enjoy the full flavor of the shrimp and to make this very rich dish somewhat more healthy. Additionally, I don't particularly enjoy Walnut Shrimp that is too sweet, so I will cut in half the amount of honey that the recipe calls for. The creamy, mayonnaise-based sauce seems strange paired with shrimp, but I can never resist ordering it whenever I see it on a menu.


Lydia (The Perfect Pantry) said...

I love making fried rice with any leftovers in my fridge, and having a pantry full of great Asian condiments really helps. I never measure anything -- just cook it to taste. Using leftover rice that's really cold makes a big difference, too.

Afishionado said...

lydia: Well, your pantry is far more extensive than my little apartment's pantry could ever hold, but that's the beauty of fried rice! I would go so far as to say that the only essential ingredients to fried rice are: high heat, rice, and soy sauce (although I'm a bit apprehensive of even requiring soy sauce!).