My introduction to curry as a seasoning was very recent. We live in a town of 50,000 that doesn’t have much of a variety in our restaurants. I only get to taste curried dishes on trips to a Big City, which does not happen very often. So it was a challenge to look for recipes that used curry powder or paste and test them when I found that my P.S. (Personal Shopper/Hubby) had brought home at least 3 different kinds of curry powder. They were just sitting there in the spice cabinet, calling to someone to use them. I decided it was up to me to put them to use. Or so I thought skeptically. This was a totally new type of cooking for me.
My first dish was one that I’d particularly liked in a restaurant and I’d had it on two different occasions. Once I find a new dish I like, I tend to stick to it. The dish was a simple Thai pineapple chicken fried rice, but it was served in half a hollowed out pineapple shell. The eye appeal was excellent, the taste was pretty good! Both restaurants made the dish with chicken and shrimp, and that’s a good match. I think it could also be made with either the chicken or shrimp solo and still be very flavorful.
The recipe I found online was really an excellent teaching lesson as well as a good tasting recipe. It gave directions on how to make sure the rice is separated before adding to the frying pan or wok. I’d made regular fried rice many times and was aware of how sometimes cold rice can stick in lumps and be hard to separate in the pan when tossing. Rubbing the oil into the cold rice with my fingers was a superb trick to learn!
After making the recipe on several occasions I found it was easier to use a small frying pan on the side to scramble the eggs, and then add them to the larger pan. It’s just less messy. I also decided that I’m not a huge fan of fish sauce. I have many Thai recipes now that each call for a bit more fish sauce than I like to taste. I’ve learned in making the recipes to add a few scant drops at first, stir thoroughly and taste. Usually the one dose is plenty. The fish sauce is used to salt up the dishes and I prefer to add some soy sauce if the dish needs more salt.
I don’t hollow out the pineapple halves to serve my P.S. and myself dinner. That’s too much work and the fresh pineapple is hard enough to cut up as it is! I do add two egg rolls to each plate when serving; having them ready in the freezer for just such occasions is very handy. I covered the egg rolls in a previous post.
Thai Pineapple Fried Rice
1 cup pineapple; fresh or tidbits
4 cups rice; cold
4 tablespoon peanut oil; or canola
2 shallots; thinly sliced
3 cloves garlic; minced
1/2 small can diced green chilies
1/2 cup cashews; roasted
1/2 cup peas; frozen
1 egg; beaten
1/4 cup raisins
3 tablespoons chicken broth
1/2 teaspoon fish sauce; or to taste
2 teaspoons curry powder
1 teaspoon sugar
3 green onions; finely sliced
1/3 cup cilantro; fresh, chopped (optional)
8-12 shrimp (optional)
1 cup chicken; diced
Start by preparing the rice. Add a little oil to the rice (up to 1 Tbsp.) and work through with your fingers. You want to separate the grains of rice, so that they don’t stick together. Set aside.
Place 3 Tbsp. oil in a wok or large frying pan over medium-high heat. Add the shallots, garlic, and chili, and stir fry for one minute, or until fragrant. If using prawns, add them now as well. Cooking tip: If wok/pan becomes too dry, add a little stock or a touch of water instead of more oil.
Scramble the egg in a second, small, frying pan. Add the eggs to the wok/pan.
Mix together the chicken or vegetable stock, fish sauce, curry powder, and sugar. Stir well, then add to wok/pan.
Add the cashews and stir-fry for 30 seconds.
Now add the prepared rice to the wok/pan. Stir-fry until all the rice has mixed with the sauce and is a uniform color. Break up any lumps of rice with your utensil or a fork.
Cooking Tip: Don’t be tempted to add any more water/broth or other liquids to the rice at this point, or it will end up mushy. Keep the wok/pan as dry as possible, even if a little rice sticks to the bottom. To stir-fry, scoop up rice from the bottom of the pan, tossing rather than stirring it.
Add the frozen peas, currants (or raisins), and pineapple. Stir fry to mix in.
Continue stir frying until everything is integrated and the rice is done (1-2 more minutes). Cooking tip: You want the wok to be hot and dry at this point. You should be able to hear some rice “popping” or crackling in the pan. Finally, do a taste test. If not salty enough, add 1 tsp to 1 Tbsp. more soy sauce. If not spicy enough, add more diced green chilies. If too salty for your taste, add a squeeze of lime or lemon juice.
To serve the pineapple fried rice, sprinkle with green onion and cilantro if desired. Serve on a platter, or, as they do in Thailand, in a hollowed out pineapple half!
adapted from a recipe on About.com