Trader Joe’s sells Japanese Fried Rice in the frozen section. Normally I am a bit skeptical about any American-made Japanese products, but I was surprised by this one. Not just because I liked it right away, but also because it was very intriguing with a nicely familiar flavor when I tasted it at the Trader Joe’s demo area that I could not identify right away. It was a funny thing that I could not recognize where the familiar taste was coming from. Then one day all of a sudden I remembered what the familiar flavor was. It was a typical seasoning we use to flavor a steamed rice dish we call Takikomi-gohan, but I did not recognize it right away because Trader Joe’s was using this instead for fried rice which is unusual. Sometimes this kind of thing happens with unusual combinations; you recognize something familiar but you cannot identify the flavor right away. I would never think to use the Takikomi-gohan seasoning to make fried rice, but it was not bad at all.
So, I decided to recreate the Trader Joe’s fried rice in my own kitchen, and it came out pretty good. I felt little strange to learn Japanese cooking from a Trader Joe’s product, but now it may be a regular in my house. My kids love it especially when I pack it in their lunch box!
Trader Joe’s Japanese fried Rice
- 2 Abura-age (油揚げ)
- 1/4 cup dried hijiki seaweed, soak to reconstitute in about 3 cups water or warm water and drain well (see here for how to reconstitute)
- 1 carrot, shredded
- 2 cup frozen edamame, defrosted
- 3 cups cooked short grain rice, day old rice works better if you have
- 1 1/2 tablespoon soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon mirin
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- Heat a cast iron skillet over medium high heat without oil, and cook abura-age until crispy on both sides. Slice it thinly and set aside.
- Heat a large skillet over high heat. When hot, add the oil.
- Add shredded carrot and cook for a minute. Add the hijiki, edamame, and abura-age, and cook another minute.
- Add rice to the skillet and break up any clumps with a wooden spoon. Stir-fry the rice to coat evenly with oil. Add more oil if necessary. Add soy sauce, mirin, sugar and salt on top and stir-fry until it is all combined.
- Serve immediately or later at room temperature.