One of my fondest memories from a trip to Bali many years ago was the Indonesian fried rice (nasi goreng) that was served each morning. Nasi goreng is typically flavored with a sweet soy sauce called kecap manis, shallots, garlic, tamarind and hot chilies, and is served with either shredded egg “crepe” or a fried egg, chicken and shrimp. The combination of sweet and spicy is tantilizing and addicting. I think I could eat this rice dish for breakfast practically every morning.
So, when I came across a recipe for Indonesian Shrimp Fried Rice on What’s Cookin, Chicago?, it was a no brainer – I had to try this recipe. Although Indonesian fried rice is traditionally made with kecap manis, which contains wheat, this recipe did not use kecap manis, so it is gluten-free, an extra plus since one of my sons is allergic to wheat. Instead, it is seasoned with a sauce made of soy sauce, molasses and brown sugar, completely gluten-free if you use wheat-free soy sauce.
Today is “reveal day” for Group B of the Secret Recipe Club, created by Amanda of Amanda’s Cookin. So far, everything I’ve tried for the Secret Recipe Club has come out really well, and I’ve had the opportunity to delve deeper into some blogs more intimately and get to know the person behind the blog. This club has grown so rapidly that Amanda has created four different groups that have a different reveal day during each month. I am part of Group B, hosted by Suzanne of Thru the Bugs on My Windshield. The idea behind the Secret Recipe Club is to give bloggers the chance to try each other’s recipes without the other bloggers knowing it until everyone posts their results.
This month I was assigned to Joelen (pronounced Jo-Ellen) of What’s Cookin, Chicago?, a blog full of recipes that Joelen has made for family and friends. Joelen started her blog in 2007 and it has become a major part of her life. She grew up in a home where the kitchen was the heart of the home and she was surrounded by food (her parents were caterers). A foodie at heart, Joelen is very active in the Chicago culinary scene, where she started up a culinary interest group to foster learning in and out of the kitchen. Not only is she the head chef for a local restaurant specializing in Filipino cuisine, but she also teachers culinary classes in commercial catering and pastry kitchens just outside Chicago’s loop district. As a single mom, I honestly don’t know how Joelen juggles everything on her plate.
As I read more about Joelen, I came to find that she and I have several things in common. We both grew up eating strictly Asian cuisine and were not really exposed to other ethnic foods until we were in our late teens. Like Joelen, I find other ethnic cuisines fascinating as I feel it gives me a glimpse into other cultures without actually traveling around the globe (which I would love to do one day). And, just as Joelen likes challenging others to cook ethnic cuisines they may not have otherwise, so do I. Finally, I discovered that Joelen has a gluten sensitivity, so her blog features many gluten-free recipes, and cooks primarily gluten-free, just as I do due to my youngest son’s wheat allergy. That’s what I love about this Secret Recipe Club – you “meet” other bloggers and often find they have a lot in common with you.
I found a bunch of recipes I’d love to try, including Filipino Pancit Bihon (Stir-Fried Rice Noodles), Greek Kota Kokinisti (Stewed Chicken), Indian Palak Paneer (Spinach and Indian cheese), Korean Gaeran Mari (Rolled Korean Omelette), Thai Pad Kee Mao (Drunken Noodles), and Joelen’s recipe for gluten-free Pizza Dough.
I made this Indonesian Shrimp Fried Rice recipe three times, tweaking it a bit each time. Each time, it was devoured. To make this dish a bit healthier, I substituting brown rice for the white rice, and reduced the number of eggs as well as the amount of sodium in the dish (I cut out the salt and reduced the amount of sauce). Also, I used only half the amount of jumbo shrimp in the original recipe as that’s all I had. I did use a little trick to “double” the amount of shrimp. I sliced the shrimp in half lengthwise, so there were twice the number of pieces of shrimp, giving the illusion of more shrimp in this dish. The second and third time I made this dish, I used “large” peeled deveined shrimp I found on sale, which made for zero shrimp prepping, and added some red chilies for some heat.
My kids all loved this version of fried rice. Served with Stir-Fried Baby Bok Choy, we had a very simple meal for dinner.
Please hop over and visit Joelen at What’s Cookin’ Chicago? to check out all her recipes – there are a ton so there’s something for everyone. I hope I have the chance to meet Joelen in person one day. She has a beautiful smile that evokes a feeling of warmth and generosity.