Sunday, 12 June 2011

Shrimp and Lettuce Fried Rice: Because Lettuce Ain't Just for Salads.

Lettuce begin.  Wah wah.

So I think lettuce needs to be in more things. And I also think that cooked lettuce (oh yes, I said COOKED lettuce) is a really delicious, underrated delight. A compelling reason that one should get friendly with this recipe is that sometimes, you have a head of lettuce in your fridge and you just don't want a salad. A potentially even more compelling reason is that fried rice done any old way is fantastic and easy and cheap and pretty healthy.

Every time I make rice for something, I make way more than I need. I had made the Tandoori Chicken for Lazy People earlier in the week, and served it with rice. I made 1 cup (the general rule is that 1 cup of uncooked rice yields three cups of cooked) and the leftovers were kicking it in the fridge. I always have frozen, uncooked shrimp in the freezer, that take about 10 minutes to defrost in some warm water and cook in about 2 or 3 minutes. Really user-friendly protein to have in your freezer, at the ready. So sad, unwanted, almost on the way to lettuce heaven lettuce head meets shrimp in hot pan with some vegetables and soy sauce, etc., and bob's your uncle.

This dish is also excellent with chicken, pork, calamari, or tofu instead of the shrimp. Or all of them! Feel free to leave out the egg if you're not into it.

Wok full of goodness.
Shrimp and Lettuce Fried Rice

Note:  This is one of those dishes where it's handy to have everything chopped up and ready to go before you start cooking anything. You want to fry everything at a high heat, and it will cook quickly. If you're all ready with the ingredients, it will make bringing everything together way easier.

2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 tbsp of grated ginger (I keep ginger in the freezer and then grate it on the small holes of my cheese grater, as it's easier to grate when frozen)
1 tbsp canola/grapeseed/other neutral oil (Don't use olive oil. I know everyone sort of reaches for it regardless of what they're cooking, but think about it for a second:  would you put olives in your stir-fry?  That would be absolute madness! So use an oil that doesn't have a flavour that will get in the way of your vaguely Asian stylings. Save the olive oil for the Italian stuff and salad dressings).
1 egg (see below for what to do with it)
a handful of sliced mushrooms
a stalk or two of thinly sliced celery (you could also use carrots, peas, zucchini, or whatever vegetables you have around)
2 green onions, sliced
10-12 medium-sized raw shrimp, defrosted
a small to medium-sized head of leaf lettuce, washed and sliced into short strips
1 or 2 cups cooked cold rice (this is important - fried rice doesn't work nearly as well with warm, just-cooked rice - and you can make this as rice-heavy or rice-light as you wish)
2 tbsp of soy sauce
1 tbsp of fish sauce
a couple of dashes of rice wine vinegar (optional)
1 tbsp of oyster sauce
hot sauce, to taste (I use sriracha) 
cilantro, chopped, for garnish
Supposedly you eat slower when you eat with chopsticks.
I have not found this to be true.

Heat up the oil over high heat in a big frying pan, ideally a wok, until it's quite hot - and then crack in an egg. Scramble it around, incorporating white and yolk, without really worrying about that. Take it out once it's still moist, but cooked.  Add into your pan (add another splash of canola oil if the pan needs it) the garlic, ginger, celery and mushroom. Stir-fry it around, moving it constantly. Add the scallions, lettuce, and cold rice, along with all of the sauces, and stir-fry for a few minutes. The lettuce will get wilty.  Don't be afraid, it's delicious. Add the shrimp, which will take only a few minutes to cook. Continue to stir everything well, and give her a taste. Want more saltiness? Add more soya. Want a little more sweetness, add more oyster sauce. More magic delicious flavour? Hit it with more fish sauce. Once everything is looking about ready (from start to finish, this dish should take no more than 10 to 12 minutes in the pan), add the already scrambled egg and mix everything up. Serve topped with chopped cilantro and maybe a squeeze of fresh lime. Makes two generous servings if you've used 1 cup of rice, more if you've used 2 cups.


  1. I never knew the remove-the-egg trick before, but I can confirm the chopstick-to-inhalation ratio.