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,