Food, Wine

Home Plate

Stir it up: With restaurants closed for dining across the country, home cooking is having a moment. Likewise, virtual happy hours. Funny how even when we’re apart, food and wine can bring us together. Whatever lies ahead, here’s hoping the cooking habit takes root in more homes and people continue their virtual meetups with distant friends and family.

shrimp fried rice

If you’re not going to restaurants, you can still eat like you are. Chinese-style fried rice is easy to master, and this version goes straight from stove to table. California’s asparagus growers are wrapping up their season this month. Pick up a couple of bunches so your beautiful fried rice can have an encore performance. Toasted almonds add crunch and another taste of California (the state grows 90 percent of the global crop), and a swirl of spicy Chinese sesame oil adds a nutty fragrance. How diverse our modern pantries are, thanks to California’s many immigrant communities!

A glass of California Pinot Gris (aka Pinot Grigio) will make your fried rice a feast. If your wine selection is running low, no worries. You can still purchase and pick up at California wineries, observing social distancing, and many wineries can ship right to your doorstep. How easy is that? Wine is for the good times and for the other times, and it’s nice to know that the state’s wineries will not let our glasses run dry.

ladybug on a leaf


Down to Earth Month in the California wine world, a time to celebrate the state’s leadership in sustainability. Because they can’t welcome you with festivities for now, many California sustainable wineries are offering discounts on wine and shipping so you can continue to enjoy their products at home. Consider joining a wine club or two; you’ll get wine shipped direct to you, plus access to exclusive member events and releases. Check out our awesome list of offers from California’s sustainable wineries and order from the comfort of your couch. You can pick the wine up if you’re in the neighborhood.

Shrimp Fried Rice with Asparagus, Leeks, and Almonds

California asparagus make this stir-fry especially colorful, fresh, and fit for spring. For a vegetarian version, substitute firm tofu for the shrimp.

Shrimp Fried Rice with Asparagus, Leeks, and Almonds


  • 1 dozen medium to large shrimp, about ½ pound (225 g), peeled and deveined
  • Kosher or sea salt
  • 1/2 pound (225 g) medium asparagus
  • 4 tablespoons (60 ml) peanut oil
  • 4 large eggs, lightly beaten with ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups (200 g) thinly sliced leeks, white and pale green parts only
  • 4 cups (1 l) cold cooked medium-grain rice
  • 1/3 cup (35 g) toasted slivered almonds
  • 1 tablespoon Chinese sesame oil with red chili
  • 1 cup (15 g) whole cilantro leaves, plus more for garnish.

Serves 2 as a main dish or 4 as a side dish


Season the shrimp with ½ teaspoon salt and set aside.

To trim the asparagus, hold each spear horizontally between both hands and bend it. It will snap naturally at the point at which the spear becomes tough. Discard the tough ends. Slice the spears on the diagonal about ½-inch (1 cm) wide, leaving the tips whole.

Heat a wok over high heat until a drop of water evaporates on contact. Add 1 tablespoon peanut oil and swirl to coat the wok. Add the shrimp and stir-fry until they just turn pink; leave them slightly underdone as they will cook further when stir-fried with the rice. Transfer the shrimp to a plate.

Reduce the heat to medium and add 1 tablespoon peanut oil. When the oil is hot, add the beaten eggs. They should sizzle and puff without browning. Let them set for about 10 seconds, then push any cooked egg to one side of the wok and let the uncooked egg pool in the center of the wok. Continue cooking, adjusting the heat to prevent browning and pushing cooked egg to one side until all of the egg has just barely set. The eggs should be moist and slightly runny as they will cook more when stir-fried with the rice. Scrape them onto a plate, chop very coarsely with a spatula, and wipe the wok clean.

Return the wok to high heat and add the remaining 2 tablespoons peanut oil. When the oil is hot, add the asparagus and leeks. Season with salt. Stir-fry until the asparagus is almost tender, about 1-1/2 minutes. Return the shrimp to the skillet and give everything a toss, then add the rice. Season with more salt and stir-fry until the rice is hot throughout, about 1 minute. Add the cooked eggs, ¼ cup (30 g) almonds and the spicy sesame oil and toss briskly once or twice, then remove from the heat. Taste for salt. Add the cilantro and toss to distribute it, then transfer to a serving bowl. Garnish the top with more cilantro leaves and the remaining toasted almonds. Serve immediately.

Recommended Pairings

California Chardonnay, California Riesling, or California Pinot Gris

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