How to Make Alexander’s Steakhouse’s Sensational Uni Fried Rice
Fried rice is typically a frugal dish, something you slap together at the last minute with meager ingredients on hand.
This is not that fried rice.
Not when it is enveloped in whipped uni butter, and crowned with fresh uni.
And certainly not when it is on the menu at Alexander’s Steakhouse in Cupertino for $25.
When Food Gal reader Kristy implored me recently to get the recipe for the uni fried rice after falling for it at Alexander’s, I could commiserate.
After all, I had enjoyed it at the restaurant only once — and I still dream about it. It’s that kind of dish — loaded with bold flavors that grabs you from the get-go with its uncanny mix of comfort and luxuriousness.
Executive Chef Jared Montarbo was kind enough to actually provide the recipe. As chefs are wont to do, there weren’t precise measurements for every single ingredient, so I tinkered a little. After making it at home recently, I can tell you confidently that his recipe does indeed make for a fried rice dish just about as delicious as the one he makes at the restaurant.
Kristy also let me in on her favorite fresh seafood source: K&C Food Wholesale in San Jose. Yes, it does sell to the public. But do bring cash or a check to pay for your purchases. It also helps to call ahead to see if they have in stock exactly what you are looking for.
That’s precisely what I did when I knew I had to get my hands on really fresh uni. I was in luck because K&C had just gotten in a shipment from Japan. I drove up, parked my car, and wound my way around the fence-line to find an open-air entrance, where a guy was lounging on a chair on a blazing hot afternoon. He asked me what I needed. When I said uni, he went to fetch a container that had about 15 lobes packed in water. I handed over $40 and was on my way.
K&C is only a hop, skip and a jump away from San Jose’s Japantown, which made getting some of the other ingredients a breeze. I popped into Nijiya Market for fresh shiitakes, shishito peppers, bonito flakes, nori, and bottled unagi sauce.
I had cooked my Nishiki medium-grain rice (which you can also buy at Nijiya Market) the day before and refrigerated it, the traditional method for making fried rice because it leaves the grains firmer, and thus, easier to stir-fry.
This is not a bare-bones fried rice, but a loaded one — full of added touches that really amplify the savory, meaty umami flavor. The bacon tossed into the rice, the nori and bonito flakes that get sprinkled on top, and the drizzle of sweet-salty, thick unagi sauce really add a ka-pow punch. The uni gives an unmistakable briny depth.
It’s definitely not your Asian grandma’s fried rice. It’s a newfangled one for the ages.
Alexander’s Steakhouse’s Uni Fried Rice
(Serves 3 to 4)
1 package of fresh uni, divided use
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, softened at room temperature
Canola oil, as needed
4 eggs, beaten
6 ounces fresh shiitakes, tough stems removed, and caps cut into slices
1 heaping cup of fresh shishito peppers, stems removed, and larger peppers cut in half
4 slices thick-cut bacon, diced
1 1/2 cups Nishiki medium-grain rice cooked the day before, cooled and refrigerated (this will yield about 4 cups of cooked rice)
2 tablespoons finely chopped shallots
2 teaspoons finely chopped garlic
2 finely chopped scallions or spring onions
Soy sauce to taste
2 julienned scallions
4 tablespoons bonito flakes
2 teaspoons shredded nori
In a small bowl, place two lobes of uni with the butter. Using a fork, beat the uni into the butter until combined. Set aside.
Heat a large wok on medium heat, swirl in a little canola oil, then add the beaten eggs. Using a flexible spatula, gently scramble the eggs until cooked but still soft and moist. Off the heat, use your spatula to break up the scrambled eggs into small bite-size pieces. Remove eggs to a plate and set aside.
Place the wok back on the burner on medium heat, adding a little more canola oil. Saute the shiitakes until tender and browned; remove to the plate with the eggs.
Again, with the wok on medium heat, add a little more canola oil, then the shishito peppers, stirring them frequently until they soften and slightly blister. Remove to the plate.
Fry the bacon in the wok on medium heat until golden and crisp. Using a slotted spoon, remove the bacon to the plate.
Heat the wok, with the bacon drippings in it, on medium-high heat. Add the rice, breaking up any clumps with a spatula, stirring until the rice starts to turn a little golden and get a little crisp. Add the uni butter, and toss to combine.
Next, add the shallots and garlic to the pan, stirring to incorporate. Allow to cook for 2 minutes, then add bacon, shishito peppers, shiitake mushrooms, chopped spring onions, and diced omelet.
Deglaze the pan by pouring a little bit of soy sauce around the edges, stirring to incorporate well.
Transfer the fried rice to a large serving bowl. Garnish with a drizzle of unagi sauce to taste; then arrange bonito flakes, nori, julienned green onion, and fresh uni over the top, and serve.
Adapted from a recipe from Chef Jared Montarbo of Alexander’s Steakhouse
More: Dinner at Alexander’s Steakhouse and A Look At the Actual Fried Rice Dish
Haven’t tasted this, of course, but just looking at the recipe this might be the best fried rice ever! Glad you were able to get the recipe and share it with us. 🙂
Thanks again for getting the recipe, and for making it and providing the instructions so I can too! as soon as my son and his girlfriend come home, it’s my turn to make it!
Kristy: Thanks for lighting the fire to nudge me to ask for the recipe. So glad that you did! 😉
OMG I’d die for this. It’s pretty tricky to locate quality uni here but I’ll try harder!
That looks amazing, and all the ingredients look like it would be an umami bomb to eat.
completely unfamiliar with uni but i can see how this dish would taste sensational! how cool of the chef to provide the recipe!
This seems like a delightful recipe! Can’t wait to give it a try, Carolyn! Can I use long-grain rice instead of the Nishiki medium-grain rice?
I’m glad you were able to share the recipe with us, looks fantastic! Also interested to check out the K & C, am curious if you feel the uni is fresher from there than what you would get at Nijiya? Just because you went to Nijiya anyways…
Sandy: I love Nijiya, but I know they don’t always have uni on hand. And I was eager to check out K&C, since I had never been there before. With K&C, it’s nice that you can call, too, to see when they get the uni in stock. I think that probably guarantees it’s super fresh.
ur recipes are delightfully easy and well presented. big thanks.
@foodgal, if you really like uni, like my wife and I do, you’ll know that even at the japanese markets and whole sellers, if you get them in those little trays, they’re still hit or miss on whether they have that bitter taste…. even ones that are purported to be Santa Barbara gold.
So, I live in the east bay, and basically when I want Uni, I go out to the Half Moon Bay docks where they sell fish, crab and whatever is in season right off the boats. There is a guy who sells live sea urchin that he dives for himself and sells them right off his boat. They’re just amazingly delicious, better than anything I’ve gotten from even high-end sushi restaurants. About $8 per sea urchin ($8/pound, 1 urchin roughly 1 pound). You just have to have the fortitude to crack them open yourself and clean them.
If you yelp “half moon bay crab boats” you can find a picture of the guy’s boat with his phone number on it. You can text him to see if he’ll be there that weekend. Super nice guy.
Sam: It’s true about the uni in Japanese markets being hit or miss. It’s hard to tell how long it’s been out of the water, so you just never know. Thanks for the tip about the Half Moon Bay boat. I am definitely going to have to seek that out the next time I’m in Half Moon Bay. I love buying whole salmon there. So fresh, and such a great deal, when you calculate how many servings you can get out of a whole fish. Happy summer eating to you!
Thank you for this tantalizing recipe. I’m going on a date with a marine biologist next week, for the express purpose that he has promised me how to catch and shuck sea urchins – the only reason I’m going on this date (although he’s kinda cute)! Now I know what to do with the excess.
Hi Hungry Ghost: Fresh sea urchin is always a treat. And even more so when caught by a cute marine biologist! LOL Have fun on your date, and enjoy the recipe. 😉