Prep: 15 min // Cook: 5 min
You have bought this bottle of fish sauce from your local grocer (or the authentic Thai brand I highly recommend) to cook a nice curry, like this, and you only used a couple of teaspoons. What you’ve left looking at is a decent amount of stinking liquid in that little bottle sitting idle in your cupboard. Imagine it’s the weekend and you’ve cooked lots of rice and a Sunday roast for friends and family which means you must have been left with a significant amount of rice leftovers and some roasted chicken. Finally, you’ve got some colourful veggies hanging around your fridge the last few days, and of course, it’s the beginning of spring and pineapples are at their best!
How all these make sense?
Well, if you’ve been to Thailand, they might very well do. These ingredients are the perfect conditions for cooking a very easy and tasty signature Thai dish without the hassle of buying weird ingredients and pastes, by the use of fresh produce and natural sweeteners, the essence of Thai cuisine.
Pineapple rice (Kao-Pad Sapparod) is served almost everywhere in Thailand. I like to think of it as the Asian paella: a mixture of meat (chicken or pork), seafood (prawns), tropical fruits and vegetables all bursting with flavour and freshness... it’s cheap, utterly tender, perfectly cooked, vibrant and refreshing with mild flavours and natural sweetness and pineapple fragrance. A real crowd’s pleaser! Served in the actual pineapple skin, after the flesh has been scooped out, catches the eye too as a dish! We ate massive quantities of this when in Thailand as not only it was very fragrant, quickly made to order and broadly available, but also not spicy at all making it a good companion to our delicate western stomachs :-P Add the sweetness and fruitiness of pineapple and this dish satisfies even the most demanding customer out there, like our weird-eating-habits toddler!
It’s a stir fry dish that requires some chopping and juggling to start with, but once you’re done with all this it’s less than 5 min of ultra-rapid stir fry cooking. Best to use a wok (I have a good recommendation at the end of the post; might worth investing if you are into Asian stir-fries) but works also with other elevated side lipped pans. You won’t believe how much flavour this awfully smelling fish sauce is bringing to this dish!
The recipe is coming from a traditional Thai chef I met in Koh Lanta last year and is adapted for 2 servings as it’s usually easier to handle 2 portions at a time in my wok.
Ingredients (serves 2)
4 cups of cooked white rice
50-80g cooked (preferably) chicken, shredded in small pieces. Can be done with raw diced chicken breast too
6 king prawns
1 red bell pepper (or go for 1/2 green and 1/2 red to make it more colourful)
100g fresh pineapple (or canned) and some of its juice
1 garlic clove
1 tsp fish sauce
1 tsp soy sauce
1 tsp palm sugar or other brown sugar (optional)
1 egg, beaten
Some fresh coriander leaves for garnish (optional)
If you have no rice pre-cooked already, cook your rice first according to pack instructions.
While the rice is cooking, prepare your ingredients. In Thai stir-fry cooking everything is mixed and fried really fast so for stir-frying are generally advised to have everything chopped and in easy reach, before you light that fire.
My suggested order is: slice and dice the onion, bell peppers and then pineapple. Chop the pineapple flesh and save some of the juice too. See how I get the flesh of fresh pineapple out in 5 easy steps using a fancy OXO gadget that works like a wine opener:
Tip: Keep the pineapple skin to serve a refreshing cocktail or smoothie.
Finely slice the garlic clove. Peel and discard prawn heads and shells and cut your chicken into small pieces. Finally, beat the egg in a small bowl. Drain and set your rice aside.
Heat a dash of vegetable oil in the wok and stir fry the prawns until they are cooked. Set aside.
Top up with oil if none’s left in the wok, and fry the beaten egg. Tilt the wok around to allow the egg to spread across and thinly coat the pan. When it’s cooked, roll the omelette with the aid of a wooden spoon and remove it from the wok. When it's relatively cool to handle, slice this roll into thin strips for serving.
Top up the wok with some more oil and stir fry the onion for 30 sec stirring continuously with your wooden spoon, add the garlic and cook for another 30 sec and then add the chicken heat it up for another 30 sec (or allow to cook if using raw meat).
Add the cooked prawns and rice and mix everything together for another 30 sec to warm them up.
Add the fish sauce, soy sauce, pineapple, peppers and sugar and fold everything together. Thais also add palm sugar at this step. The dish is already somewhat sweet so use the sugar optionally and only if your pineapple is not sweet enough for your buds.
Serve directly and garnish with the strips of omelette and some chopped fresh coriander (optionally).
Below you will find my favourite authentic products (affiliate links) I used to cook and shoot this recipe. If you can't see the content, please deactivate your ad-blocker and refresh the page :-)
Pineapple Slicer: Absolute must for pineapple lovers. I couldn't believe my eyes how easy is to handle and how precisely cores the fibrous centre, slices and extract the flesh in perfectly rounded rings! My son and I absolutely love using this tool as much as eating the pineapple itself. Easy peasy cleaning too. Looking forward to using it more and more as the ripe sweet stuff lands in the UK in the coming spring and summer months.
Wok: A very good buy if you are into stir-fries, this Ken Hom is non-stick already so you won't need to worry about "seasoning". But even when it's lost its anti-stick property, there are ways to "season" it as the Asian cooks recommend with some oil and salt (google it). I'd go for the one with the lid (as I also cook curries in there), but there are cheaper options for wok only too. And remember, the more you cook and "season" your wok, the better the flavours will develop over time and as the coating builds upon the surface. For this recipe, I've used the Ken Hom 31 cm.
Fish Sauce: A staple and essential product in Thai cooking, is called Nam Pla in Thai and is used in a similar way to soy sauce. It's characteristic aroma when tossed in stir-fries is the first thing your nose picks up when you land on Bangkok's streets. Not to mention recent research suggests fish sauce as a better low-sodium flavour booster than salt. So there you go, it's healthier and boosts flavour too :-) Now this Tiparos brand was used by all the chefs I was taught Thai food cooking in Thailand and I'm so happy I could find this brand in my local Thai supermarket in the UK and Amazon too (amazing product really, and not as salty and intense as other brands).