That’s the stuff.
The long-awaited (ok, just since yesterday) sequel to our delicious but ugly quesadillas, this fried rice is definitely a winner. As I said yesterday, a lot of the credit for this dish goes to Sean, who is an invaluable inspiration in the kitchen as he is totally unhampered by self-doubt and irrational food fears. He also has a unshakeable belief that everything goes in fried rice, so when we found ourselves with more shrimp than quesadilla fixings, he immediately suggested fried rice. Given that I had reduced the amount of shrimp and increased the amount of liquid when I made the shrimp (this is reflected in my recipe posted yesterday, if you’re interested), we had a lot of yummy juices with which to flavor the rice. Another chipotle pepper took the flavor the rest of the way — it was a huge success.
Several notes on frying rice — (1) as everyone will tell you, old rice is better than fresh rice. Fresh rice is too moist and will deconstruct in your pan. Sometimes you just don’t have rice lying around, though, and you might have to do with freshly made rice, which presents a real problem. (2) Rice itself varies a lot in consistency (how sticky, how wet, how dry…) so generic advice about frying rice and how long it should take, etc., is sometimes just not helpful. (3) Without using a lot of oil (or an oil-seasoned wok), sometimes “fried rice” turns into “rice that is heated through with other ingredients.” I suspect that a very effective way to get a nice “fry” on your rice is to use more hot oil, but that obviously isn’t too good for you. Considering all these factors, frying rice is not really as simple as people who have been doing it their whole lives make it seem.
I have fried a lot of rice lately, and below is my best method for getting a nice fried rice that’s not terrible for you, mushy, or simply rice re-heated. This time, I had some rice in our rice cooker still warm, so I took it out before chopping the other ingredients and threw it in the fridge. I flipped it once, to let it all cool down and steam out a bit. This helped a lot. The key while stir frying is to not stir too much while the rice is still moist. It will lose moisture and soak up oil/flavor as it stays in the pan, as long as you don’t mash it and mix it a ton before it has a chance to steam out. Let it get a little firmer and crustier before adding the finishing touches — you’ll be glad you did!
Chipotle Lime Shrimp Fried Rice
- 1 tablespoon canola oil
- 1 onion, chopped
- 1/2 cup julienned carrots
- 2 cups day-old rice, preferably cold
- 1/2 lb (1/2 recipe) chipotle lime shrimp w/ reserved juices
- 1-2 chipotles en adobo, chopped (stick with one if you don’t like things too spicy!)
- 2 eggs
- 1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
Heat oil in a large skillet or wok over medium-high heat. When the oil is hot, add the onions and carrots. Stir fry until mostly soft, then add rice. Stir fry to break up clumps, but don’t overdo it or your rice will break apart or get mushy. Add the reserved juice from the shrimp and the chopped chipotle, stir fry to mix. Spread the mixture over the bottom of the pan in a single, even layer.
This is when you can let your rice hang out in the skillet for a few minutes, especially if your rice is fairly fresh. Let the moisture steam out and the rice get a nice crust before flipping it over and doing the same on the other side. How long you let it sit depends on your pan, the age of your rice, the heat of the burners, etc. Just don’t mess with it a ton… and conversely, don’t let it burn.
When rice is getting a little crustier, add the shrimp and stir to mix. Make two “wells” in the rice and crack and egg in each. Let it rest 30 seconds, then break the yolk and stir the egg up a bit, still keeping the egg in the wells. Cover the wells with rice and let stand for up to one minute.
Stir fry to mix the egg in, then remove from heat add some cilantro. Serve warm, topped with the remaining cilantro.