Saturday, January 17, 2009

Recipe: Shrimp Fried Rice

Beth was gonna head to Southern Sun and get a burger and some beers with friends. I was gonna slum it at home with a frozen gluten free pizza crust and some jarred sauce and cheese on top. But Will had the flu, and Elias's stomach bug worsened, so we found ourselves both sticking close to home for the evening. I was still planning on having my lame pizza... but Beth inquired: "Isn't there something we can have together?"

I asked her if she wanted frozen gluten free pizza. She looked at me as if I had asked her if she wanted to eat a cow pie (in her defense, they are similar).

I asked her if she wanted pasta with jarred sauce. No dice.

"What about shrimp?" I asked, having just bought a big bag of 13-15's (that's 13-15 animals per pound) a few days ago. She perked up.

"I'm thinking" I continued, "of something sorta spicy with rice, and maybe onions... and possibly celery and carrots on top?" (sometimes my culinary explorations end in disaster, and she had graciously choked down a few of those over the years).

This was not a night for experimentation. It was 7:30. The kids were sick. We were tired and hungry. Strangely... she seemed amenable.

Here's what happened next:


  • A dozen 13-15 shrimp, peeled and de-veined
  • 5 cloves of garlic, pressed
  • 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 1 minced scallion
  • 1.5 teaspoons sugar
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 3 large wedges of fresh lemon
  • 6 tablespoons (or so) of extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 large carrot, finely diced
  • 1 large celery stalk, finely diced
  • 1 medium onion, sliced
  • 1 cup dry basmati rice, cooked

Make a quick marinade for the shrimp by combining about 3 tablespoons of olive oil, pressed garlic, cane sugar, 1 tablespoon kosher salt, lemon juice, minced scallion, and crushed red pepper. Taste it! Make sure it is somewhat bold, since this is a quick marinade, but not unbalanced in terms of salt, spice, sugar, and acid. The spice and garlic will continue to come out into the oil over the next 30 minutes. Peel and de-vein the shrimp, and marinate the shrimp for a half hour or so. If you're going any longer than that, reduce the boldness of the marinade.

Cook the rice.

Heat a large cast iron skillet on mdium-high heat. Once the skillet is hot (just beginning to smoke), pour in 2-3 tablespoons of olive oil, and saute the aromatics (carrots, celery, and onion). When the onions are caramelizing nicely, you're ready for the finale.

The dish will be done in a few minutes. For this reason, make sure the table is set, the wine is poured, and any side-dishes have been finished and plated. Collect errant guests from the parapet, and inject the kids with (a non-lethal dose of) morphine.

OK, now you're ready. Clear a spot in the center of the skillet large enough for all dozen shrimp to lay on their sides directly on the hot cast iron. Drop the shrimp in along with as much marinade as you can scrape. They'll start cooking right away in the hot garlic oil (as will the garlic). With tongs, turn the shrimp over one by one after about a minute (when one side is pink). Cook them for another minute (they're going to keep cooking as you finish over the next minute or so, and shrimp are easily over-cooked). When the shrimp are just pink on both sides, dump in the rice, and stir everything around until the rice is evenly coated with the flavorful oil. Taste the rice and adjust seasoning if needed (i.e. add more salt). Serve immediately.

NOTE: If you are using smaller shrimp, you will need to move things along more quickly here at the end to avoid over-cooking them.


  1. can you use less salt in this recipe? 2 Tablespoons seems like it might make my fingers swell up like sausages! But it sounds delicious. Nikki

  2. Hi Nikki!

    Yeah, I would always recommend salting to taste.

    Also: 2 Tablespoons of kosher salt is roughly equivalent to 1 Tablespoon of "regular" salt.

  3. how do you keep the rice from sticking, i tried oil, but it burns to the bottom and it's hard to clean.

  4. Hi littleukeemonster,

    Thanks for stopping by!

    Based on what you said, a little bit lower heat may be required in the final stages. And you will need plenty of oil!

    Depending on the variety of rice, it can be hard to keep it from sticking. I would definitely scrape the bottom of the skillet continually with a wooden spatula once you've added the rice.

    If it does stick. you can soak the skillet for 6-8 hours, and it should make clean-up much simpler.

    Cast iron gets more non-stick the longer it has been used, so it may be a matter of developing additional seasoning. It never hurts to do an oven seasoning, as described here:

    Hope that helps.




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