Many of my girlfriends and family are fun, awesome, and fabulous young moms, and though I’m still a few years away from little ones of my own, the idea of “mom friendly” dishes has popped up more than once. I was a pretty open minded eater as a little kid, but my brother on the other hand…ketchup and brown stuff only. Getting a vegetable across his plate was practically impossible. I’m surprised he survived toddlerhood without a bout of scurvy. So to help out these lovely friends of mine, I’m dedicating mondays to mom-friendly dinners that are easy to make, delicious for everybody, and all with some secret veggies folded in.
Benihana was the jam when I was a little kid. My tenth birthday was there. I caught the shrimp in my mouth, the fire-y volcano flickered, and there was just enough danger that my scrawny little body practically shook with excitement. I always ordered the same thing: Rocky’s choice, a combo of steak and shrimp, but that hardly mattered. It was all about the fried rice for me.
I don’t know why I was so obsessed with the fried rice, other than perhaps it was a post hoc circle, of loving it because I loved it. There didn’t need to be a reason. Fried rice is awesome because it’s awesome. Even bad fried rice is awesome. It’s a high percentage food for kids, and I guess, considering I am hovering over a bowl right now, a high percentage adult food as well.
Other than kids loving it (I’m extrapolating my ten year-old self onto all kids everywhere, but I feel like the fried rice science will back me up on this) , fried rice is simple to make, the perfect place to sneak in finely chopped vegetables, can be scaled up or down easily, and is the perfect way to use up a single stalk of broccoli, one carrot, and half an onion. I pushed mine in a paleo direction by halving the amount of rice in favor of finely chopped cauliflower, and you can play around with that ratio however you like.
I hope you enjoy this childhood favorite of mine, and feel free to subtract and add the ingredients that your family loves!
For 4 to 6 servings
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons canola oil
2 chicken breasts, chopped
1/2 pound small shrimp, peeled and deveined
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon minced ginger
2/3 cup diced onion
1/2 cup peeled and finely diced carrot
1 broccoli head, chopped into fine florets (about 1 1/2 cups)
1/2 cauliflower head, chopped finely (about 3 cups)
2/3 cup frozen peas
4 eggs, beaten
3 cups cooked brown rice
2 scallions, finely chopped
1/4 cup cilantro, roughly chopped
2 teaspoons lime zest
thinly sliced chilies (if you like spicy)
1 tablespoon sesame oil
3 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons butter (optional)
2 tablespoons sesame seeds
kosher salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
In a large skillet or wok, heat 1/4 cup canola oil over medium heat. Add the chicken, cooking for 3 to 4 minutes, then add the shrimp, cooking for another 2 to 3 minutes until the shrimp are pink and the chicken is golden brown. Depending on the size of your pan, you may need to do this in batches, so as not to overcrowd the meat. Add the garlic and ginger and cook for another minute, until fragrant and the garlic is golden brown. Season with a little salt and pepper, and transfer to a large bowl.
Reduce the heat under the skillet to medium-low and add 2 more tablespoons of canola oil and onions and carrots. Cook about 5 minutes, until softened but not browned, stirring occasionally. Add the broccoli and cauliflower, cooking for another 3 minutes, until just tender, then add the peas, cooking for a minute until barely tender. Season lightly with salt and pepper and transfer vegetables into the large bowl with the chicken and shrimp. Add the beaten eggs to pan and cook until scrambled, pushing around with a wooden spoon. Add the rice, and then the vegetables, chicken, shrimp, and garlic and ginger from the large bowl. Cook, stirring well, until heated through. Add herbs, lime zest, chilies if you’re using them, sesame oil and soy sauce. Add butter, if using, and sesame seeds, and stir for a minute or two until combined. Season with salt and pepper. Pour into bowls and serve!