Kung “Pao,” indeed. A report from the U.S. Center for Science in the Public Interest served up the one-two (fat-sodium) punch that restaurant Chinese food is a nutritional disaster. The news made headlines, but it wasn’t exactly a surprise. Most of us have known for years that a dish of deep-fried Kung Pao Chicken is no more virtuous than a fistful of French fries.
If Chinese food is your favorite, take heart by focusing on the naturally healthful essence of true Chinese cooking—heavy on the vegetables and light on the protein, low in animal fats, sauced with a gentle hand, and nearly always accompanied by steamed rice.
Properly prepared, authentic Chinese food is actually one of the world’s most heart-healthy cuisines. And you can prepare it in the blink of a stir-fry. This version of Shrimp Fried Rice uses leftover brown basmati, but you can use whatever leftover aromatic cold rice you have on hand.
Healthy Shrimp Fried Rice
2 tablespoons oyster sauce
1 tablespoon reduced-sodium soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon sugar
2 teaspoons roasted sesame oil, divided
2 eggs, lightly beaten with 2 teaspoons of water
3/4 pound medium shrimp, peeled and deveined, tails removed
2 tablespoons canola oil
3/4 teaspoon minced onion
1 tablespoon minced peeled fresh ginger
1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
1/2 cup minced green onions, divided
2 cups cooked brown basmati rice, cooled
1 cup bean sprouts
3/4 cup snow peas
1. Combine oyster sauce, soy sauce and sugar in a small bowl.
2. Heat a heavy 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat. Add 1 teaspoon sesame oil and eggs. Cook until eggs are softly scrambled. Remove from pan.
3. Add remaining sesame oil to pan. Add shrimp; stir-fry until just cooked, about 2 minutes. Remove from pan. Wipe pan clean.
4. Add canola oil to pan. Add onion; stir-fry 2 minutes. Add ginger, garlic and half the green onions; stir-fry 30 seconds. Add rice; cook, without stirring, 1 minute to crisp, then stir-fry 2 to 3 minutes. Add bean sprouts, peas, egg, shrimp, remaining green onions and sauce. Toss gently until thoroughly heated. Serves 4.
Per serving: 280 calories, 11g fat, 105mg chol., 16g prot., 28g carbs., 1g fiber, 830mg sodium
Recipe by Laraine Perri, a food writer in New York City