Thursday, March 24, 2011

Thai Pineapple Fried Rice

Thai food is well known for its fiery nature. Many Thai food novices have exuberantly asked for 'Very spicy' or 'Thai Spicy' food, only to have their mouths burn and then learnt to ask for a much lower spice level. But this rice dish is the exception. This is one dish that I always order 'Spicy', and then it is just right for my palette. The reason is that this is made with loads of good things like pineapple, raisins and cashews which lend it a sweet flavour, and lots of chili flakes which then balance this sweetness with some heat. This dish is slightly sticky due to the fact that its made with pineapple and some juice which makes it moist. There are lots of veggies and tofu that add to the nutritional goodness, and this can be served either with a thai curry of your choice, or even on its own. I have used my favourite vegetables, but you can use what you have on hand. The detailed recipe is as follows -

Ingredients -
2 white or yellow onions
2 carrots
8-10 green beans
1 cup mixed chopped peppers
1 box mushrooms
1 cup broccoli florets
1 cup cubed tofu
1 cup pineapple chunks
1/2 cup pineapple juice from can
half cup black raisins
half cup roasted cashew halves/pieces
1 Tbsp minced fresh ginger and garlic
1 Tbsp chili flakes
1 Tbsp or more Soy sauce, tamari or liquid aminos
1 tsp rice vinegar
1 tsp white pepper(optional)
Salt to taste
2-3 Tbsp canola or vegetable oil
2 cups dry rice

Method -
1) Wash and clean the rice and then cook it with double the quantity of water. We want it to be fluffy and not very soft. You can either use jasmine rice or if you are using an Indian variety, the one to go for here is Sona Massorie or Kolam. I do not recommend basmati rice for chinese food.
2) Use a rice cooker for cooking the rice if you have one, or you can also use the microwave. Spread the cooked rice on a big plate or sheet pan, so that any excess moisture will dry up.
3) Chop the vegetables in similar chunks. You can use frozen broccoli florets, or steam and blanch fresh ones. Use red, yellow and orange peppers for a splash of color.
4) Use readymade baked tofu, or just grill the chunks on a non-stick pan so that all the moisture evaporates and they toughen a bit. This will ensure that the cubes do not break when you later fry them along with everything.
5) Use a micro plane or small grater to grate a small piece of ginger and 2 cloves of garlic. This will give a great taste.
6) Use a wok or a wide bottom saute pan. Heat the oil and first add the carrots, then the ginger and garlic and chili flakes. Add the chopped mushrooms and fry until all the water in the mushrooms evaporates. Add the green beans and after a minute, add the peppers. Add the onion at the end.
7) Do not over saute or over fry. We want the veggies to be tender crisp and retain a crunch. Now add the tofu and the pineapple chunks and raisins along with the juice.
8) Add the soy sauce and vinegar and mix well.
9) Add the rice now and use two spatulas to mix everything well without bruising the rice too much.
10) The rice is done when most of the liquid evaporates and it gets a sheen. Add the cashews now and mix in. Garnish with more cashews.
11) Serve hot with a curry or as a one pot meal.

This is a sweet and spicy healthy vegan and vegetarian dish that is simply loaded with vegetables and protein. Edamame is also a good addition here along with or instead of the tofu. This is also a very economical and simple way to have Thai night at home without overwhelming yourself with too many exotic ingredients.

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