How to make amazing Thai Pineapple Fried Rice?
March 12, 2010 8:51 AM   Subscribe

How do I get my Thai Pineapple Fried Rice to taste like the restaurant variety?

I absolutely love Thai-style Pineapple Fried Rice, and have found the flavor is pretty consistantly similar and delicious amongst Thai restaurants I have been to. So far my attempts to replicate it using online recipies have tasted good, but not like the restaurant stuff. Any tips?
posted by haveanicesummer to Food & Drink (16 answers total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
Add salt and oil. Maybe some MSG. OK, now add some more. More... more... okay, that should do it.
posted by decathecting at 8:53 AM on March 12, 2010

Are you using fish sauce? Either using it at all or using the right kind can make a difference.
posted by Madamina at 8:54 AM on March 12, 2010 [2 favorites]

I don't know about the pineapple portion, but I've tried dozens of times to mimic my favorite thai chicken fried rice dish from a restaurant, and here are my tips:

-use a good quality wok on a gas stove. EXTREMELY high heat.
-use day-old rice
-stir fry your veggies in small batches, otherwise they'll be soggy
-fried rice tends to be a bit crispy, so don't be afraid to let it sit in the wok for longer than you would normally.
-use Siracha to spice it up to a level of your liking
-for that MSG-like yumminess, try using a fish sauce. It's thick, so I mix mine with the egg and toss it in the stir fry towards the end.
-use shallots
posted by wordsmith at 8:56 AM on March 12, 2010 [3 favorites]

Response by poster: I'm using fish sauce, but not that much should I go for a lot? Unfortunately it's a name brand grocery store variety (Kame maybe?), not an asian grocery store true import kind.
posted by haveanicesummer at 8:58 AM on March 12, 2010

Give it time for the flavors to meld. When I make larp, there's an element of roasted garlic that is then made into a paste, which is THEN given time to mellow and cook with the meat and shallots and all. The same goes for cooking pasta. Don't just pour sauce over the top; mix it with a little of the used cooking water or whatever liquid you have and cook it for a little bit to reduce and concentrate the flavors instead of eating it right away.
posted by Madamina at 9:30 AM on March 12, 2010

It might be the quality of the fish sauce, but depending on the Thai restaurant, there may also be less-common ingredients involved, such as minced coriander root, galangal ginger, kaffir lime leaf, fresh lime juice, and/or lemongrass shoots.

Oh, and I often see shallots used in authentic Thai recipes, because of the influence of French colonialism on Siam. Also, the restaurant in question might perk things up with a little pork or salt pork to start.

On preview, also, what Madamina said about melding.
posted by aught at 10:03 AM on March 12, 2010

This is my easy go-to recipe for Saturday lunch or whenever I have leftover meat and vegetables from the day before. Typcially, anytime I am cooking some kind of meat like flank steak, grilled chicken, roast chicken, etc., I make 2 cups of rice and stick them in the fridge so that the next day we can have fried rice for lunch and use up leftovers. This works with pretty much any meat and vegetable. It is based on Filipino-Hawaiian-Chinese recipes but pretty much my own mix.

I always have all of the stuff below and so should you. There is always garlic and ginger in my vegetable bowl, always green onions in the vegetable bin and celery and carrot sticks in water in the fridge. When the canned pineapple is on sale I buy a few cans.

The rice needs at least 12 hours in the fridge to get cold enough to use in this recipe. Do not use fresh rice.

I do not typically measure my ingredients, except for the peanut oil, so you may have to adjust these to get the taste how you like it. The wife likes hers saltier than me, so she usually adds more soy sauce after cooking.

Total time, including prep, is about 20 minutes.

Windrose Fried Rice


2 green onions, chopped

2-inch piece of ginger, minced

2 large cloves garlic, minced

1 tbsp peanut oil

1 stalk celery, chopped (optional)

1 carrot, chopped (optional)

2-3 cups cold white rice (I use only Mahatma jasmine)

1 can pineapple chunks, drained (easier and cheaper than fresh)

8 oz leftover steak, chicken, whatever, chopped up

1 cup leftover vegetables (I usually have leftover green beans, broccoli, zucchini, or something in the fridge)

2 eggs, scrambled, cooked, chopped up and set aside

3 big splashes low-sodium soy sauce (rice should be light brown)

1 big splash rice wine vinegar

Sriracha to taste


Heat peanut oil in a large skillet.

Add garlic, green onion, ginger, celery and carrot. Cook 3-4 minutes at medium heat. Do not let garlic burn.

Add meat, vegetable, pineapple, egg and stir to mix.

Add rice, soy sauce, vinegar, Sriracha. Break up the rice so that each grain is hot and coated with goodness.

Serve in bowls with a big spoon.
posted by charlesv at 10:13 AM on March 12, 2010 [2 favorites]

Re: sriracha -- I love it too but it tends to make things taste like sriratcha rather than whatever it was you were aiming at. (Unless you were aiming at a sriratcha taste of course.)
posted by aught at 10:14 AM on March 12, 2010 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Thanks for all the answers so far! I'm not big on Sriracha personally. The Thai Fried Rice I enjoy is very yellow since the flavor base seems to be yellow curry.
posted by haveanicesummer at 10:30 AM on March 12, 2010

I'll second what wordsmith said. Fried rice is all about keeping rice from doing its natural thing, which is to turn into a solid clump of starch. To achieve this, restaurants have a few tricks:
1. The rice is always day old and somewhat dry, we'd leave open bins in the walk-in overnight.
2. The heat on the wok is very high, probably equivalent to the average grill.
3. Lots of oil is used, most of a soup ladle full per order. Let's say at least 1/2 cup.

This gives the rice a characteristic "char" taste and fluffy texture. The tips wordsmith gave are exactly what I do when I make fried rice at home, but you probably won't be able to really duplicate the restaurant taste with home equipment.
posted by TungstenChef at 10:40 AM on March 12, 2010 [2 favorites]

Isn't some tumeric indicated? The Pineapple Fried Rice I like is always yellow.
posted by Rash at 10:44 AM on March 12, 2010

I should add that this is the recipe I use to make Thai fried rice at home, and it's quite a reliable base recipe that I can expand upon.
posted by TungstenChef at 10:46 AM on March 12, 2010

The best way to get good stir fried stuff at home is to use a cast iron skillet and preheat it A LOT. Water shouldn't just steam, but practically explode off the skillet. Cook a tiny amount, remove it when it's done, let the pan reheat before cooking more. Repeat as necessary. There will be smoke and it might get a little flame-y when you add oil. When everything is sufficiently cooked, recombine it to reheat it a bit and add sauce.

You can't get a wok hot enough on a home range to cook large batches continuously like in a restaurant, but if you use the magic heat retaining powers of cast iron to your advantage like this, you can get the same end result.
posted by paanta at 1:33 PM on March 12, 2010

are you including any chicken broth?
posted by chalbe at 3:12 PM on March 12, 2010

I'll put a recipe below, which includes making your own curry powder to be added - this may make all the difference.

I don't know if this recipe is like the ones you have already tried, or whether it replicates the sort of pineapple fried rice you find in restaurants. It is from the book "At the Table of Jim Thompson". Jim Thompson was a silk merchant in Thailand, and you can visit his beautiful house in Bangkok. The cafe has quite tasty (perhaps not spicy enough) food (the pomelo salad is lovely). I haven't tried this specific recipe, but have been pleased with other ones.

1 tsp minced garlic
pinch of salt
1 tbsp unsalted butter
1 tbsp chopped onion
1 tsp curry powder (I'll include the recipe for theirs below)
4 tbsp coconut milk
4 shrimp, shelled and deveined
1 tsp white sugar
2 tsp light soy sauce
1 tsp oyster sauce
2 tbsp diced pineapple
1 tbsp raisins
1 1/2 cups (135g/4 3/4 oz) cooked rice
1 tsp chopped spring onion
1 tbsp coriander leaves
pinch of white pepper

Heat the oil until very hot and fry the garlic and salt in the butter. Add onion and curry powder and stir. Add coconut milk, shrimp, simmer 3 mins. Add sugar, soy sauce and oyster sauce and stir. Add the pineapple, raisins and rice. Reduce heat, stirfry for 2 more minutes. Serve and garnish with spring onion and coriander, and sprinkle white pepper on. Serves 1-2.

For the curry powder, you need 1 tbsp black peppercorns, 3 tbsp cumin seeds, 1 clove, 1 tbsp fennel seeds, 20 Thai cardamom pods, 15 long dried red chillies, 3 tbsp chilli powder, 5 tbsp ground ginger, 7 tbsp turmeric (this is where the yellow will come from). In a medium temperature wok, dry-fry the peppercorns, cumin, clove, fennel and cardamom for a few minutes. Use a mortar and pestle to grind to powder, then add rest of ingredients and pound until fine, then pass through seive. Makes half a cup.

I have also seen spice paste packets in the supermarket. The one in my pantry now is from Asian Home Gourmet (haven't tried it). It is a bit coy about ingredients (soyabean oil, sugar, garlic, soya sauce, salt, pepper, natural herbs and spices). It has a recipe on the back, but I won't post, since it doesn't help if you don't have the packet.
posted by AnnaRat at 3:49 PM on March 12, 2010

Sorry if the first instruction sounds odd (about the oil). That is what the book says (heat oil, then fry garlic and salt in the butter). Your interpretation is as good as mine.
posted by AnnaRat at 4:09 PM on March 12, 2010

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