Thursday, April 12, 2012

Thai Fried Rice

This is Ronnie's favorite fried rice recipe, maybe one of her favorite recipes ever! And for good reason. It's easy, quick, and delicious. I hadn't realized how popular Indian-style curry powder was in Thai cooking until I went looking for Thai tea (more on this in an upcoming post). Thai curry powder, which is very close to Indian curry powder, is sold in large containers so Thai cooks must use it up pretty quickly. Who knew?

Fried rice, whether Thai or Chinese, is always better made with cold cooked rice. Freshly cooked rice is too sticky. You can make the rice before making the fried rice but we strongly recommend you spread it out of the pot onto a baking sheet and chill it for 30 minutes. If you happen to have leftover rice from some recent Asian take-out meal, that's the easiest start to this dish. You'll need 3 cups of cooked rice instead of the 1 cup of raw rice called for in the recipe.

We used the optional brown gravy sauce to make the fried rice above. This is only a coloring agent. Given the bright yellow from the curry powder, this is definitely not essential to the dish, so feel free to leave it out (and we didn't include it in the cost of the dish either).

This dish is very adaptable to whatever cooked protein you have: chicken, pork, shrimp, tofu, ham. All are great here. Or add nothing - it's still delicious. The cashews, pineapple, and curry really make this dish special. If you start with cooked rice, it takes no time at all.

Thai Fried Rice
(serves 2-4 generously; total cost w/o optional meat is $2.80, with chicken the cost is $4.60)

1 cup long grain rice
2 cups cold water
2 Tablespoons oil
½ medium onion, chopped
2-3 teaspoons curry powder
2 teaspoons brown gravy sauce (optional)
2 cups cooked chicken or pork, cut into cubes (optional)
1 cup fresh pineapple, cut into small chunks
¼ cup roasted cashews, chopped
½ cup frozen peas
2 Tablespoons soy sauce

Place the rice and cold water in a 3 quart pot. Cover the pot and bring to a boil, then turn the heat to low and tilt the cover to allow some steam to come out of the pot. Cook for 20 minutes, turn off the heat and place the cover back on the pot. Let it sit for 5 minutes. The rice is best used cold, so make it ahead of time and refrigerate it, or spread it out on a baking sheet to cool.

In a large sauté or frying pan, place oil on medium-high heat. Cook onions in oil until they are soft and golden brown in color. Add curry powder and chicken or pork (if using) and stir until meat is heated. Add brown gravy sauce (if using). Add pineapple, cashews and peas and stir until heated through. Add rice and stir until incorporated with other ingredients. Stir in soy sauce.

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