Nori Dust Is the Secret to Perfect Fried Rice

It takes a minute to make and you can sprinkle it on everything.

After trying nori fried rice at Rachel Yang's Joule restaurant in Seattle, cookbook author and food writer Andrea Nguyen was so impressed that she decided to make her own version at home. The key ingredient is nori dust, or as Andrea calls it, an "umami stealth weapon." Although it sounds fancy, it's incredibly simple and only takes a minute to make.

Add good rice, shrimp, fish sauce, scallions/green onions, salt, butter, and garlic, and you've got yourself an easy meal that's packed with flavor — not to mention, it's pretty quick, too. Check out Andrea's tips for making the fried rice below, and get the recipe here.

Make sure your rice is dry

Rice is the main star of fried rice, of course, so you'll want to make sure it's relatively dry. When you pick some up in your hand, the grains should fall easily from your fingers. Stickier rice will gum up once you throw it in the skillet.

Make the nori dust

Take nori sheets, the seaweed you'd typically see used to make sushi hand rolls, and tear them up. Add them to a small food processor along with 1/2 a teaspoon of kosher salt, and pulse until the mixture reaches the consistency of glitter. As she works, Andrea notes that it "smells like the ocean."

Prep the other ingredients

After the nori dust is done, mince some garlic and green onions, and cut the shrimp to about the size of a thumbnail. You want everything to be relatively small so that it gets evenly distributed in the rice.

Fish sauce is key…

Andrea loves to use fish sauce — Red Boat in this case, which also happens to be a favorite of Stephanie Izard's — because it reinforces and underscores the sea-like quality of the nori.

…but don’t use too much

If you add too much liquid, you'll end up with risotto instead of fried rice, she jokes.

Line everything up and get cooking

Once the ingredients are prepped, line everything up so it's on hand while you cook. Andrea recommends using a skillet, unless you have a wok that can reach a really high heat.

Start lower

Turn the burner on to moderate-moderately high heat and melt the butter in the skillet. You don't want the temperature to get too high — otherwise, the garlic will burn. Once the garlic starts to get fragrant with a cooked, not raw, aroma, add the shrimp. This will cause the temperature in the pan to drop, so crank up the heat a little bit.

Cook the shrimp

Add a little salt for seasoning, and cook the shrimp until they're just cooked through. At that point, add in the rice and stir to incorporate the shrimp.

Add the fish sauce and green onions

When the shrimp are cooked and pink, drizzle in and incorporate the fish sauce. Then, turn off the heat — this will buy you time, Andrea says — and add the green onions. You want them to wilt enough so that they give off an aroma, but still retain some color.

Hit it with the nori dust and serve

Once the green onions have softened, add in the nori dust, stir, and serve. All of the grains should be evenly coated with the seasoning.

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