Thursday, April 12, 2012

Thai Yellow Curry Fried Rice

I was away from home for the most part of February into March traveling for work.  And when I'm away, all I do while I'm indulging in all my work-expensed meals is daydreaming about the first thing I'm going to cook when I'm back home.  While I was in my hotel in West Hollywood, I was visiting the Mistress of Spice's blog when I stumbled upon her Thai red curry fried rice.

Drooling while I re-read the post, I made a promise to go home and use the red curry I had brought back from one of my food shopping trips in Paris at the food mecca, Lafayette Gourmet at Galeries Lafayette.  Fried rice is a real comfort food me growing up in my Taiwanese household.  It is a great way to use leftover white rice as it gives it new life. The only time my mom ever made fried rice with us was if she needed to use up rice that was a few days old.  She never used freshly made rice as it contains too much moisture and doesn't allow the rice to crisp up that much. Once I was old enough to start helping my mom in the kitchen as a teenager, I was given the responsibility of making the rice in the cooker. I would deliberately cook more rice than needed so that my mom would be forced to make us fried rice that week! It was (and still is!) my favorite dish to make at home, though my variation is slightly different from my mom's now.

So two days after I found myself back home in my lovely, tiny studio (there really is no place like home!) I stopped by my local Chinese spot to pick up a pint of white rice since I had run out of my jasmine rice right before I left for my work travels.  I opened my fridge and pulled out the curry paste to find I didn't have red curry, but YELLOW curry. No problem! A quick look through my fridge and freezer and I pulled out some coconut flakes, an egg, leftover grape tomatoes, chicken breasts and a kaffir lime leaf...the holy grail that holds that umami flavor in Thai cooking next to fish sauce.

Since yellow curry has a slightly sweeter taste to its heat, the coconut was the perfect complement for it. Once I toasted them a beautiful golden brown, it also added a nice textural contrast in the dish. You can adjust the level of heat by reducing/increasing the curry paste. I thought mine was just the right amount of heat without making it painful to eat! Feel free to substitute the chicken with eggplant or tofu if you do not eat meat.  If you are trying to be more health conscious, brown rice is also perfectly acceptable; it will probably add a nice nutty flavor. I have just never learned to like brown rice having eaten white rice my entire life.

This weekend is the MOST appropriate time to cook this dish for yourself or your family as today signifies the beginning of the Songkran Festival (otherwise known as Thailand Water Festival).  It is the most important festival for Thai people. Celebrated as the traditional Thai New Year, the Thai people sprinkle water on the elders in show of respect and pay respect to Buddha images. This year Songkran will run from Thursday, April 12th-Sunday, April 15th.  So get out there with your water guns in tow and then satisfy your hunger afterwards with this comforting dish!
Celebration of Songkran in the streets of Chiang Mai. - Photo by Ramya Vivekanandan

Serves 4

3 tbsp coconut flakes, lightly toasted
2 tbsp grapeseed oil
1 large egg, beaten
2 medium size boneless, skinless chicken breasts, thinly sliced
1/2 cup yellow onion, diced
3 garlic cloves, peeled and thinly sliced
1 tbsp ginger, finely minced
1/4 cup cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
2 kaffir lime leaves
2 tbsp yellow curry paste
3 tbsp water
2 cups leftover white rice
1 lime, quartered

1.  In a large wok, toast the coconut flakes over medium heat until they are golden brown and have started to caramelize a bit around the edges. Remove from heat and reserve until ready to use.

2.  In the same wok, warm oil over high heat and add eggs. Roll around pan and cook for a few minutes.  It should still be somewhat uncooked.  Do not let brown on bottom. Remove from heat and reserve until ready to use.

3. Still using the same wok over medium-high heat, add the chicken.  Cook until both sides are no longer pink. Add onion and cook until slightly translucent. Then, add garlic, ginger, tomatoes, and kaffir lime leaves. Saute together for a minute. Add curry paste and water; mix together.

4. Raise heat to high, add rice and eggs. Make sure everything is mixed together.  I always like to make sure every grain of rice has a bit of the sauce and ingredients are evenly distributed so you get a bite of everything together.  Cook for an additional 4-5 minutes over high and stir occasionally to avoid rice from sticking to the bottom.  It's perfect if it starts to create a bit of crust on the rice, but we don't want it to stick! Add 2 tbsp coconut flakes to the rice and mix together one last time.

5. Remove kaffir lime leaves from the wok. Serve immediately in individual bowls and top with toasted coconut flakes and a wedge of lime.

Kŏr hâi jà-rern aa-hăan or bon appetit!!


  1. We love yellow curry and plan on making this rice.

    1. Glad to hear that you will be trying this recipe, Five Finicky Eaters! Let me know your thoughts and post a photo of it on my Facebook page if you can. Happy cooking!

  2. Yum! I love fried rice in any form too, I must say. And I eat it so often here, it's perfect! When you come, we'll have to take you to our favorite street food stall... they make the best red, yellow AND green curry fried rice! BTW, that's a really nice placemat or napkin in the background of your photo.

  3. I can't wait for my Thailand adventures with you Mistress! Being inspired by Thailand everywhere. :)