It’s official: Fall has arrived in Miami. We woke up this morning to 63 degree weather. I know most other places are already enjoying cooler temperatures but I was walking in 92 degree weather last week. And now finally we can enjoy our days without read more
Hard to believe but summer is already winding down to a close, with lots of kids heading back to school next week. To ease you back into the daily grind, I’m sharing one of my easiest and fastest meals, Thai Chicken Fried Rice. It makes excellent use of leftovers; so excellent in fact that you’ll find yourself making extra batches of both rice and chicken so they will be on hand for this speedy family favorite. What makes this dish Thai? I use Jasmine rice, season it with a pop of funky fish sauce, and as a finishing touch I serve it with prik nam pla, the fiery hot sauce I shared last week. Some chopped cilantro, a couple slices of crunchy cooling cucumber, and a squeeze of fresh lime… it’s a feast of flavors in a simple little meal that you can make faster than you can say homework battles and soccer practice.
Leftovers Make Thai Chicken Fried Rice Magic!
One of the things I most love about this recipe is that it uses leftover, chilled rice (read about how chilled rice makes the best fried rice here) and also leftover chicken. You have some roast chicken from Sunday’s dinner in the fridge? Perfect! You can even use a store bought rotisserie chicken. Really any kind of leftover chicken will work. If your chicken was made with spices/herbs, you can give it a quick rinse and no one will be the wiser! Using up these leftovers isn’t just economical, it means your Thai Chicken Fried Rice is ready in less than 15 minutes. I start by prepping the garlic and scallions. Like all quick stir fried dishes, it is best to have all your ingredients measured and prepped before beginning.
I can’t say enough good things about cold rice in the fridge. It’s the Asian equivalent of sliced bread in the cabinet: a true staple and workhorse that’s always ready when hunger strikes. Not only can you count on it as a side for quick weeknight meals and fried rices, but it’s perfect for mid-day snacks with a little furikake or topped with a fried egg (insert link here). Since it stays fresh for several days, it’s handy to always have some.
One quick tip about using cold rice: it’s clumpy and in order to heat it evenly and thoroughly, you need to help it along. So use clean wet hands and use your fingers to gently crumble it until all of the lumps are broken up.
Have all of your ingredients right by the stove because you are adding oil and garlic in a smoking hot pan and garlic goes from golden brown to burnt in seconds. Keep a close eye because you will be be tossing in the chicken and in just a few seconds.
Once you add the chicken and rice, you want to use a pressing motion to sear the rice along the sides of the pan before scraping it off and mixing it back in. Searing the rice gives it that authentic flavor that is the hallmark of good restaurant fried rice. Cold rice tends to stick to the pan, but as it heats up, it will be easier to work with so just keep pressing, searing, and scraping.
Once the flavorings are added, give it another minute to fully absorb the fish sauce and then you’re done.
I like to serve my Thai Chicken Fried Rice garnished with some lime, cilantro and sliced cucumber and pass around the prik nam pla so everyone can make theirs as spicy as their heart desires.
Thai Chicken Fried Rice is the perfect meal for a busy school/work night, and I hope everyone at your table loves it! Leave a comment and let me know what you think, and of course tag us in your pics @funkyasiankitchen, we love hearing from you!
- 3 Tablespoons neutral oil
- 6 cloves garlic minced
- 6 ounces cooked chicken (about 1 ½ cups roasted, grilled, or even poached is fine)
- 3 cups cold cooked rice (preferably Jasmine or a medium grain)
- 2 scallions
- 1 Tablespoon fish sauce
- Ground black pepper
- 1 persian cucumber trimmed and sliced
- 1 handful cilantro leaves, roughly chopped
- 2 lime wedges
- *Thai Fish Sauce With Hot Chiles
- Trim and mince the scallions, then set aside.
- Separate the rice with wet hands or a fork so that you don’t have any large clumps and set aside.
- Heat a wok or wok pan over high heat for several minutes until very hot and smoking.
- Add the oil and the garlic. Swirl the garlic in the oil for a couple of seconds until lightly golden.
- Add the chicken and stir fry for a minute, mixing it well.
- Add the rice and keep stir frying for a couple of minutes, pressing the rice into the sides of the pan to sear it and then scraping it off and mixing it back in. It may stick to the sides of the pan at first but it will become less sticky as it cooks.
- Turn off the heat and add the scallions, fish sauce, and ground black pepper to taste. Turn the heat back on and continue cooking for another minute.
- Transfer Thai Chicken Fried Rice to a platter or individual plates. Garnish with the cucumbers, cilantro, and lime wedges.
- Serve with the chile fish sauce on the side for additional seasoning.
Keywords: thai, fried rice, chicken, khao phat gai, fast, spicy,
Why are stir-fries one of the most popular Asian dishes made at home? Because they are versatile, economical, and fast. No matter what you have (or don’t have) in the fridge, a stir-fry can generally be had. So today, we’re going to introduce one that is less familiar. Chanpuru hails from Okinawa, and like many stir fries, it’s made with commonly found veggies, a small amount of protein, and some seasoning. Intriguingly, Chanpuru highlights the contact Okinawa has made with foreigners who’ve influenced the cuisine. A mashup of Japanese, Chinese, American, and Southeast Asian cuisine, Chanpuru often features bitter melon (called Goya in Okinawa) and luncheon meat or Spam. Yes that Spam, the canned pork product that enjoys an enormous popularity throughout much of Asia: a holdover from the war and the rations eaten by American soldiers. If you look at where there have been American bases or heavy US military presence, you will see Spam featured on the menu in fascinating ways.
I like bitter melon fine, but it can be hard to find in Miami. And I love a good mystery meat or even challenge meat, but the weird spongy texture of spam and the absurd shelf life are not my thing. So today, I’m taking influence from the spirit of Chanpun, which is to make it with what you have readily on hand. I’m making my Chanpuru with chicken, tofu, and easily found veggies, but feel free to sub in your own favorite proteins. Cabbage, carrots, onion, and beansprouts are very common both in Okinawa and in America. Cheap, abundant, and filling… But by all means, if you can get your hands on some bitter melon or you love Spam, go for it!
There are a few stir-fry basics to keep in mind, and these make the difference between a perfect stir-fry or one with things over/undercooked:
- Prep all your ingredients and have them within reach.
- Preheat your pan first. (FOR SEVERAL MINUTES SO IT’S HOT)
- Then add the oil.
- Keep it moving! (In other words, emphasis on the STIR part of stir-fry)
So I begin making the Chanpuru by prepping the proteins and veggies, and making sure I have the sauce ingredients close at hand.
Now that the proteins are ready, I begin prepping the vegetables.
Stir Fry Time!
Now that everything is prepped and ready to go, it’s time to heat your pan. I used a large 12″ skillet and it was barely enough room. You can split the amount in half and make it in batches if your pan is smaller. The first step is to fry the tofu so it’s browned and crisp. I like the crunchy chewy texture that it gives to the Chanpun. If you’re short on time or don’t want to bother with this step, you can add the tofu in cold. In that case, I would add it towards the end, after most of the stir frying is done, to keep it from breaking apart.
It’s important to let the egg cook halfway before gently scrambling. If you scramble immediately, your eggs will breakdown into tiny bits that will disappear into the dish.
Once you’ve mixed the beansprouts in, taste the dish before plating. Watery vegetables give off a lot of moisture, so it’s important to adjust seasonings before serving to avoid a bland dish. The last touch, which I think makes this dish special, is adding a hefty dose of katsuobushi flakes on top. Their smoky goodness really makes this simple stir-fry shine.
Love how quick and easy stir-fries come together? Then you’ll love my Chicken and Asparagus Stir Fry, Yakisoba, and this simple pork one! I hope you give Chanpuru a try and let me know what you think. Comment here or tag us @funkyasiankitchen, we love hearing from you!
- 4 Tablespoons neutral oil
- ¼ head green cabbage (I used Taiwan cabbage which is more tender)
- 1 medium carrot
- ½ large onion
- 2 large eggs
- 2 boneless skinless chicken thighs (about 8 ounces)
- ½ block firm tofu (about 8 ounces)
- 1 large handful bean sprouts (about 6 ounces)
- 2 scallions
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 2 large pinches katsuo bushi
- 1 Tablespoon soy sauce
- 1 Tablespoon oyster sauce
- 1 Tablespoon mirin
- ½ teaspoon dashi powder
- 1 Tablespoon sesame oil
Prep the proteins:
- Drain and cut the tofu into small ½ inch slices. Set aside on a couple pieces of paper towels to drain.
- Cut the chicken in half lengthwise and then into thin slices and set aside.
Prep the veggies:
- Core the green cabbage and cut into 1 inch pieces. Set aside.
- Peel and trim the carrot and then slice thin. Cut across the slices to create matchsticks. Set aside.
- Trim the onion and then slice thin.
- Trim the scallions and cut into 1 ½ inch pieces. Set aside.
For the Stir Fry:
- Crack the eggs into a bowl and then whisk briefly.
- Heat a large pan over medium high heat for a couple of minutes. Add 2 Tablespoons of oil and then the tofu.
- Let the tofu crisp up untouched for a couple minutes and then flip the tofu over and continue to brown the tofu for a couple more minutes. Set aside.
- Raise the heat to high and add the remaining 2 Tablespoons oil, chicken, and onions to the pan.
- Stir fry for a couple minutes and then add the cabbage and carrots. Continue to stir fry for several minutes, moving the ingredients around constantly.
- Add the sauce ingredients to the pan and stir.
- Lower the heat to medium and move the ingredients to the edge of the pan.
- Add the egg to the middle of the pan and let it cook undisturbed for a couple minutes until half set and then gently stir, breaking up the egg.
- add the beansprouts, scallions, and tofu and stir fry for another minute. Taste and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper as needed.
- Transfer the stir fry to a plate and top with katsuo bushi. Serve immediately.
Keywords: stir fry, okinawan food, japan, chicken, tofu, eggs, quick, dinner ideas