Is Thai pineapple fried rice traditionally served in a hollowed out half of a pineapple? Not always. But that was how I was introduced to the dish in Phuket many years ago.
I know it looks fancy but it’s only the presentation that gives that impression. It’s just fried rice, really, but since it’s cooked with Thai spices and seasonings, it definitely doesn’t taste like the fried rice from Chinese restaurants.
Is it better than Chinese fried rice? It’s different. Oyster sauce and sesame seed oil, two ingredients associated with Cantonese-style fried rice, are absent in this dish. Instead, there’s a combination of tamarind paste and kacap manis which results in a highly nuanced sweet sour flavor.
And then, there’s the heat that comes from ginger and chili. You can turn it up by using larger amounts than what are specified in the recipe below. Or you may downplay the heat by using less. A very tweakable dish, really, so that you can enjoy it according to what your taste buds prefer.
But to make sure that it retains its Thai essence, try your best not to use substitutes for the herbs, spices and seasonings. Salt might be more handy than fish sauce, but you lose a lot of richness with a substitution like that. Ditching lemongrass and ginger, and only retaining garlic and shallot, will give you a generic-tasting fried rice.
Thai Shrimp and Pineapple Fried RiceRecipe by
- 2 tablespoons cooking oil
- 10 to 12 large shrimps peeled, deveined then cut into small pieces
- 2 shallots chopped
- 1 stalk lemongrass peeled and chopped
- 1 half-inch knob ginger peeled and chopped
- 2 cloves garlic peeled and chopped
- ¼ cup thinly sliced scallions
- 1 finger chili thinly sliced
- ¼ cup chopped carrot
- fish sauce
- ¼ cup sweet peas
- ½ to ¾ cup fresh pineapple roughly chopped
- 4 cups cooked rice
- 1 tablespoon Thai tamarind paste (available in the Asian aisle of groceries)
- 2 tablespoons kecap manis (Thai sweet soy sauce; available in the Asian aisle of groceries)
- 2 tablespoons chopped toasted cashew nuts
- Heat the cooking oil in a wok.
- Spread the shrimps on the hot oil. Stir after ten seconds.
- Add the shallots, lemongrass, ginger garlic, scallions, chili, carrot and peas to the shrimp. Stir fry for a minute.
- Drizzle in a little fish sauce. Toss.
- Add the pineapple pieces and toss until heated through.
- Spread the rice over everything in the wok.
- Spread the tamarind paste and kecap manis over the rice.
- Stir fry just until the rice is heated through.
- Toss in the nuts before serving.