Shrimp Fried Rice was one of the most popular fried rice dishes in my parents’ Chinese takeout restaurant. People would order Shrimp Fried Rice by the quart, and it seemed like we were always peeling shrimp to keep up with demand. So popular was the dish that we pre-boiled 10 pounds at a time!
As a contrast to that, Pork Fried Rice was the most popular dish up in the Catskills. Perhaps because summer vacation customers loved the pairing of Pork Fried Rice with Shrimp with Lobster Sauce—made with jumbo shrimp—alongside their Polynesian Chicken. Who knows?
What Kind of Shrimp to Use for Fried Rice
For this fried rice recipe, we’re saving our jumbo-sized shrimp for another day and, instead, are using medium-sized shrimp.
I’m sure you don’t need me to tell you that in Chinese takeout restaurants, the shrimp are usually smaller (70 to 90 size), with higher end restaurants serving the more expensive large or jumbo shrimp (16 to 20 size).
In case you’re wondering, I picked up during my summers in the kitchen that these measurements are called “the count” because they indicate how many shrimp are in a pound.
The Color of Fried Rice
Another aspect of this Shrimp Fried Rice worth calling out is the evolution of the color of fried rice. Years ago, when my parents first came to the US, the fried rice was dark brown, due to the mixture of dark and light soy sauce and thick soy sauce. Thick soy sauce has molasses added and, well, as the name suggests, is very thick and dark.
But it went out of vogue at some point, perhaps because not everyone liked the hint of the molasses flavor. Restaurants started using yellow food coloring as a color agent, giving fried rice that familiar light yellow tint.
Our Shrimp Fried Rice recipe utilizes a blend of soy sauces and turmeric to achieve a balance of natural color and flavor that somehow manages to make the rice more delicious!
Do You Have to Use Cold Leftover Rice?
The short answer is no.
When it comes to fried rice, leftover white rice works nicely, but what if you don’t have any leftover rice? Do you pass on your craving for fried rice that day?
We say no! Don’t deny yourself food cravings. Life is too short for that nonsense.
This is where working in the restaurant business comes in handy. Restaurants, of course, have to pre-cook the rice for fried rice dishes. Otherwise, imagine how inefficient it would be!
For this recipe, we pre-cook the rice with soy sauce, seasonings, and slightly less water to yield fresh-cooked rice—each individual grain perfect and ready to go into Shrimp Fried Rice! Your days of wondering about how to make good takeout-style Shrimp Fried Rice are over. Let’s cook!
Shrimp Fried Rice Recipe Instructions
First, wash the jasmine rice, and pour off the excess water. Combine the drained rice with 1 ½ cups water, the dark soy sauce, light soy sauce and turmeric powder in a thick-bottomed pot or your rice cooker. Cook the rice per our instructions for perfect stovetop rice or press the button on your rice cooker!
If you have not purchased a rice cooker yet and consider yourself a rice-lover, consider purchasing one! Check out our Chinese Cooking Tools page for more information and some useful links to products.
When the rice is cooked, fluff it with a fork or rice paddle. You will see that you now have a nice uniform golden brown rice. You can use this rice fresh or refrigerate it, and use it the next day. If you use cold refrigerated rice, you’ll have to break it up with your hands before cooking as well as add a sprinkling of water and cover your fried rice when cooking to heat it through.
Now onto the “fried” portion of this fried rice. Heat your wok over medium high heat. Add 1 tablespoon of oil, and add the eggs, scrambling them until they’re just cooked. Use your spatula to break up the large pieces into smaller chunks. You can start scooping them up when they look like they are almost done, and put them back into the same bowl you mixed them in. Set aside. You will cook them again in the rice.
Heat the wok until just smoking, and spread 1 tablespoon oil around the perimeter of the wok. Spread the shrimp out in a single layer, and let them sear for 20 seconds.
Stir fry the shrimp until opaque, transfer them back to their bowl, and set aside. Again, they’ll get cooked again in the rice! For the record, when cooking large volumes of shrimp fried rice in restaurants, shrimp are usually pre-boiled (like they do for shrimp cocktail). Wok cooks then grab handfuls of the precooked shrimp for each order, which makes the process go quickly and smoothly, but at home, searing the shrimp definitely makes for better flavor!
With the wok over medium high heat, add the third tablespoon of oil, and sauté the onions until translucent.
Add the rice, using your metal wok spatula to flatten and break up any remaining clumps. If the rice is cold from the refrigerator, continue stir-frying until the rice is warmed up, which will take about 5 minutes, or sprinkle a tablespoon or two of water around the rice, lower the heat slightly, and cover for one minute to let the steam do some of the work.
Once the rice is warmed (this is very important or the sauce will not mix as well and the color of the rice will not be as uniform), add the salt, sugar, sesame oil, and freshly ground white pepper, and mix with a scooping motion until the rice is evenly coated with the seasonings. The rice should be hot by this time. Now add the shrimp and snow peas, and stir fry for another 30 seconds.
Add the eggs and scallions and continue stir-frying the rice for another 30 seconds.
Gather all of the rice into the middle of the wok to let the sides of the wok heat up.
After about 20 seconds, spread the Shaoxing wine around the perimeter of the wok, and stir-fry for another 20 seconds. This step gives that little extra wok hei that you taste when you get fried rice from a good Chinese restaurant!
Plate and serve your shrimp fried rice – just like from your favorite restaurant!