Like most Asian fried rice dishes, cooking Thai fried rice is just another way to salvage leftover rice, recycle it — usually for breakfast the next day — and come up with something that will brighten your day.
In the past, fried rice was always a side dish — the carb component of a meal that gives the necessary bulk — unless copious amounts of meat or seafood, and vegetables, were thrown in. That’s why I’ve been such a fan of Chinese-style fried rice. It has everything.
But Thai fried rice had me thinking. Is rice good enough to be standalone dish in the tradition of the Italian risotto? Because once you try Thai fried rice, you’ll realize you don’t need meat or seafood to accompany it. It has eggs and if you add enough eggs, you get protein with your carbs. Try it, I urge you, because it will forever change your definition of Asian fried rice.
What do you need to cook Thai-style fried rice? Cooked rice, of course. Not newly cooked but rice that had been allowed to sit and dry out for a few hours. Day-old rice that had spent a night in the fridge is even better. You also need cooking oil with a high smoking point because this is a stir fry. And eggs — the protein component of the dish.
For the spice base, you need shallots and garlic. For the seasonings, equal amounts of soy sauce, fish sauce and calamansi juice (you may modify the ratio of these three ingredients though).
Heat oil in a wok or frying pan and saute the shallots and garlic until softened and browned. Browning the shallots gives them a more complex flavor so be patient with the sauteeing.
To the sauteed shallots and garlic, you add your rice. Turn up the heat and stir fry until the rice is heated through.
Add the soy sauce and fish sauce, and toss to combine. Taste and adjust the seasonings before you add the eggs.
Push the rice to the edges of the pan to make a well at the center and pour in beaten eggs. When the eggs are partially set, you start stirring them into the rice.
When the eggs are fully cooked, pour in the calamansi juice and stir. Give the Thai-style fried rice a final taste, adjust the seasonings, if needed, garnish and serve.
Thai-style fried rice
- 3 tablespoons cooking oil
- 3 shallots - peeled and thinly sliced
- 8 cloves garlic - either finely chopped or very thinly sliced
- 4 cups cooked rice - preferably day-old
- 4 large eggs - beaten with two pinches of salt and a pinch of pepper
- 2 tablespoons light soy sauce
- 2 tablespoons fish sauce
- ¼ teaspoon ground pepper
- 2 tablespoons calamansi juice - or lime or lemon juice
- 6 tablespoons fried shallots - to garnish
- torn cilantro - to garnish
- Heat the cooking oil in a wok or frying pan.
- Over medium heat, saute the shallots and garlic until softened and aromatic.
- Turn up the heat, add the rice and stir fry for a minute. You want to keep everything moving so that the shallots and garlic do not stay at the bottom of the pan where they are likely to burn.
- Drizzle in the soy sauce and fish sauce. Sprinkle in the pepper.
- Continue stir frying to distribute the seasonings evenly.
- Push the rice to the side of the pan to make a well at the center.
- Pour the eggs into the well and leave for 15 to 20 seconds to allow the bottom to cook. Stir the eggs, gathering some of the rice around it. Stir in widening circles until the eggs are distributed and cooked through.
- Off the heat, drizzle in the calamansi juice and toss well. Taste the rice. Adjust the seasonings, if needed.
- Garnish the Thai-style fried rice with fried shallots and torn cilantro.