Fried Rice with Dried Shrimp and Tofu
So many things have happened within the past three weeks, and I owe you so many stories. Lately, life has taken a toll on me, and I am feeling the pressure of being busy – all in a good way. I just started work as an editorial assistant with Food Arts magazine, and I am keeping up with my part-time job at a fine dining restaurant. I attended ‘Feast on History,‘ an event by Danielle Oteri and her husband, Christian Galliani of Wine for the 99, featuring no-fuss, family style Italian cooking and wine pairings. I talked endlessly on the phone with my mother concerning family drama, which is an event in itself and celebrated Andy’s 30th birthday. Above all, sadly I found out it was Deepavali two days ago through Facebook! So many things happened in a short period of time. I have been consumed by life.
Between my two jobs and my event calendar, I managed to squeeze in some time to cook. It’s my way of therapeutically soothing myself into a restful night. The kitchen is my sacred retreat. It’s a place where I can connect with ingredients, which don’t actually speak words, but emit flavor – a sort of non-verbal communication. Cooking gives me the freedom to think, to work with as many or as little ingredients as possible, and allows me to see transformations from one state to another. From the rhythmic chopping to the melodic sounds of pans sizzling, I am lulled into comfort, thus assured a peaceful night.
During these times, I tend to make fast and delicious meals like a simple fried rice, a one-pot meal if you will. What I love in this fried rice is the addition of dried shrimp, which brings a particularly interesting, salty, umami taste that can uplift the flavors of any savory dish. They are made from small unshelled shrimps that are boiled, then sun-dried and are popular in Asian, Mexican and Louisiana cuisines. In the U.S, the history of using dried shrimp can be traced back to the kitchens of Louisiana, when Chinese and Filipino immigrants found the shrimp-rich region as an opportunity for export.
2 garlic cloves, finely diced
2 shallots, finely diced
1 red bell pepper, finely diced
1/8 cup of dried shrimp, soaked in warm water for 20 minutes
2 tablespoons of soy sauce
1 tablespoon of Shaoxing cooking wine or rice wine
1 tablespoon of sambal belachan or any chili paste
3 cups of cooked rice
1 pack of soft tofu, cut into small cubes
Salt and white pepper to taste
Scallions for garnish
1) Bring a medium-sized pan to heat and pour in two tablespoons of peanut oil.
2) Add the garlic, shallots, red bell pepper and dried shrimp. Sauté for about 3-4 minutes.
3) Make some space in the middle of the pan and pour in the soy sauce, shaoxing cooking wine and the sambal belachan. Stir all the ingredients in the pan for 1 minute.
4) Mix in the rice, breaking any lumps. Coat the sauce on the rice.
5) Toss in the tofu and mix well.
6) Season with salt and white pepper
7) Garnish with scallions.