Pineapple fried rice is one of my favorite Thai dishes, in fact it is the dish which got me into Thai food. I’ve gotten it spicier and spicier through the years. It is my definite go to comfort food. I have sampled the pineapple fried rice at all of my local Thai restaurants. I can be very particular. Too many peas or raisins and I am put off. Not enough spice, and it tastes bland. Too much spice and my nose and eyes start to water. I know I am picky, and no one makes a better pineapple fried rice than Brit Boy’s local Thai stop in Michigan. (I’ve had the pleasure of sharing it with him on numerous occasions. We both love it so much, that it is the ONLY thing we ever get…) I am excited to try this recipe, but I must admit, having never cooked Thai before, I am anxious this recipe may be a letdown and leave me wanting to order take out from my favorite spot.
Thai food has only recently become a love of mine, always viewed as too spicy I did stay away from it, even though I love curries and am a Wasabi nut. I only started to “get into Thai” via American Girl, one of her favorite dishes being Pineapple Fried Rice, which we would eat often as a takeaway choice. My biggest challenge with this dish was the fact that I have never ever (in 20years of cooking oriental dishes) been able to reproduce anything even looking close to restaurant or takeaway fried rice, it’s always been a palatable, but a stuck together ugly mess. Could this be my dish for retribution or am I doomed to produce rubbish fried rice for eternity…. I was so focused on getting this right that I felt the need to purchase a wok (A Calphalon Unison Non-Stick Wok, a bargain at $100 reduced from $250). So would this additional expenditure help or hinder this week’s culinary challenge? I have also decided to add chicken to my dish as that is what was our common choice from the takeaway.
Of course Brit Boy has bought another gadget. Marketers must see him coming, and giggle with excitement and glee. So once again, this will be the most expensive pineapple fried rice ever made…. (And to think, he has the best Thai spot down the street from his house. He must be really determined to do these blogs with me…)
I should say right off the bat to be sure to cook your rice the day before. It definitely gave it more of an authentic taste, and it didn’t become a clumped together soggy mess. The other great tip in the recipe was to put a little oil in the rice, working it through and breaking up the granules. A few other things I would suggest, is to make sure you take the time and prepare all the ingredients ahead of time. You need to quickly mix them in at just the right time, this does not leave you the time to measure something out, or cut something up. Fresh pineapple is also a must, canned pineapple just doesn’t seem like it would compare.
I agree with American Girl cooking the rice before and letting it cool is essential, although I didn’t cook mine the night before, I did however prepare it in the morning and bang it straight in the fridge. This worked well, I would also agree that using the oil and breaking the rice up with your fingers is an essential part of this and all other fried rice recipes (and more than likely my major downfall over the last 20 years), I actually used sesame seed oil which gave it an additional oriental flavor. I did however take the easy option and used canned pineapple, although the taste was fine it did heat up tremendously in the wok and I had complaints from the kids that it was too hot….
Overall, it went together relatively easily once everything was cut up. I should mention my wok was way too small…. Okay, maybe Brit Boy was onto something with the big one he bought. If I continue making recipes which require a wok, a new one will definitely be in order. I also didn’t actually measure out the rice, I just estimated. In the end, I think I made too much rice, and did not add enough of the other ingredients to compensate.
I made a lot more rice than it stated as I have a rather nice rice cooker (I didn’t buy it American Girl….. It was a gift, ages ago). However, I did double the ingredients for the sauce and ultimately used a combination of soy sauce and fish sauce instead of sticking to one of them.
It definitely needed more spice, and I really wish I had some of those red chili flakes to mix into my serving.
I completely agree it was very tasty but I didn’t get the kick I was expecting or yearning after, it was great for the kids (2 out of 3 loved it), but if I was making it for myself again (which I will do) I will need to experiment with additional spice.
I am also embarrassed to admit that I did not know what a shallot was, so I omitted the ingredient completely, this could have lead to some of the blandness… (But hey, I did use fresh cilantro from my herb garden so hopefully I earn a few points back….)
You lose culinary points for the shallots but I forgot to add the CORIANDER….. which I had purchased as a garnish. I think it missed the flavor but wasn’t essential.
All of this being said, I still think it turned out very nice, especially for my first try at Thai. I ate it for dinner and for lunch the next day. The jury is still out with my kids, they all seemed to eat at least some of it, but managed to eat around the parts they didn’t like. Ah well, can’t please them all. If you are a fan of pineapple fried rice, I definitely think this recipe is worth trying.
I was well chuffed with myself, this was by far my most successful fried rice dish, and has given me the confidence and inclination to set my sights on other oriental fried rice dishes. I think it was the wok American Girl………
The recipe chosen was from About.com
Pineapple Fried Rice
- 1 small can pineapple chunks, drained, OR 1+1/2 cups fresh pineapple chunks (instructions below)
- 3-4 cups cooked rice, preferably several days old (Tip: if fresh, leave for an hour or more in the refrigerator uncovered)
- 1/4 cup vegetable or faux chicken stock (or regular chicken stock if non-vegetarian)
- 2 shallots, finely chopped
- 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- 1 red or green chili, thinly sliced, OR 1/4 to 3/4 tsp. dried crushed chili (chili flakes)
- 1 egg (vegans can omit)*
- ½ cup frozen peas
- optional: 1 small carrot, grated (about 1/4 cup)
- ¼ cup currants OR raisins
- ½ cup roasted unsalted whole cashews
- 3 spring onions, finely sliced
- 1/3 cup fresh coriander
- STIR-FRY SAUCE:
- 3 Tbps. soy sauce (OR substitute fish sauce if non-vegetarian)
- 2 tsp. curry powder
- optional: 1/2 tsp. sugar
- Mix 1 Tbsp. oil with the rice, using your fingers to separate any chunks into grains. Set aside.
- In a cup, stir the soy sauce/fish sauce together with the curry powder.
- Drizzle 1-2 Tbsp. oil in a wok/large frying pan over medium-high heat. Add shallots, garlic, and chili, stir-frying until fragrant (1 minute). Whenever the wok/pan becomes dry, add a little stock (1 Tbsp. at a time to keep ingredients sizzling).
- Crack egg (if using) into wok and stir quickly to cook (like making scrambled eggs).
- Add the carrot (if using) and peas. Stir-fry 1-2 minutes, adding more stock if needed.
- Now add the rice, pineapple chunks, peas, currents and cashews. Drizzle the fish/soy sauce mixed with curry powder over and gently stir-fry to combine over medium-high to high heat until the rice “dances” (makes popping sounds) – about 5 to 8 minutes, or until desired lightness is achieved. Tip: Avoid adding any more stock from here on, or your rice will turn out heavy and/or soggy. If desired, you can push ingredients aside and add a little more oil to the pan/wok (this will give your rice that special ‘shine’ you see in restaurant fried rice)
- Remove from heat. Do a taste-test for salt/flavor, adding a few shakes of salt or a little more soy sauce, as needed. If too salty for your taste, add a squeeze or two of lime juice.
- To serve, scoop rice onto a serving platter (or in a carved-out pineapple, if serving at a party – see link at beginning of recipe). Top with spring onions and coriander.