Pineapple Shrimp Fried Rice

Pineapple Shrimp Fried Rice recipe by

You’re sitting in a cavernous room of a Chinese banquet restaurant, surrounded by chatty aunties and uncles, some asking about your personal life, others telling you every detail about theirs.  The entire extended family is there, gathered together to celebrate Chinese New Year.  The meal has been endless.   Course after course of extravagant dishes of steamed grouper, sea cucumber, crispy skin chicken, abalone, lotus root, deep-fried shrimp balls, scallop and mushroom.  You can’t possibly eat anymore, and then the waitress brings one more dish before dessert – a giant plate of fried rice.

It’s the filler.  For anyone at the table who might still be hungry, they can stuff themselves with the cheap dish.

I may never appreciate fried rice after dinner, but I do think the dish deserves more respect.  There is a skill in making fried rice, and if presented nicely – say in a pineapple – it can look just as elaborate.

Pineapple Shrimp Fried Rice recipe by

Penang is located only 100 miles south of the Thailand border, so the influence of Thai culture can be seen in many aspects of Penang life.  In the sounds, such as the impact of the Thai language on the local Hokkien dialect.  In the sights, from temples to festivals.  And to the tastes, from siam laksa to pineapple fried rice.

Pineapple Shrimp Fried Rice recipe by

Best served in a hollowed-out pineapple, the dish is a slightly charred mix of fragrant white rice, carrots, red bell pepper, garlicky shrimp, sweet raisins, chunks of pineapple, and topped off with crunchy roasted cashews.  And since we like our food extra spicy in Penang, a side of sambal balacan.

A few tips for delicious fried rice:

- Cold rice.  Always cook the rice the day before and chill in the refrigerator, in order to firm and dry the rice.  If you make the dish using freshly cooked rice, you will end up with a wet, mushy fried rice.

- Arm power.  When you add the cold rice to the wok use the metal spatula to scoop, stir, and flip the rice until it fluffs up, then press it back down to the bottom of the wok to char it a bit, adding a smoky flavor.  Continue this motion until the rice breaks up completely and is coated well with the seasoning.

- Heat.  You want that slightly charred flavor without burning the rice, so it’s important to control the heat.  Start with high heat before you add the rice, so the entire wok is hot and all the cold rice warms up quickly and evenly.  Then lower the heat when it becomes too smoky.  Once the rice is broken up and coated, crank the heat back up, stirring well until cooked.

Pineapple Shrimp Fried Rice recipe by

curry powders available at season with spice shop

Pineapple Fried Rice recipe by Season with Spice
Serves 2-3

3 cups of cooked, cold jasmine rice (that was prepared the day before and chilled overnight)
3 cloves garlic - finely chopped
12 medium-sized shrimp - shelled and deveined
2 shallots - thinly sliced
Half a carrot - cut into matchsticks
1 medium red bell pepper - diced
1 small pineapple or 1/2 large pineapple – hollowed out; fruit cored and cubed (save the juice)
1 tbsp raisins (or more if you like)
1 tbsp of Season with Spice's Sweet & Spicy Curry Powder 
1 tsp toasted fermented shrimp paste (belacan), optional
1 tbsp soy sauce
Salt and finely ground white pepper to taste
1/2 cup roasted unsalted cashews
Chopped green onion, sliced red chili and/or cilantro leaves for garnish

1. In a wok, heat 1 tbsp oil on medium fire. Then add 1 clove of chopped garlic and sauté until aromatic. Finally, add in shrimp until just cooked (adjust heat during the process if necessary). Remove from wok and set aside.
2. In the same wok, heat up 2 1/2 tbsp oil on medium-high fire and sauté the shallots and the rest of the garlic until fragrant. Add carrots to the wok and cook for a minute or two until softened. Then, add red bell pepper and cook for another minute (adjust heat during the process if necessary).
3. Add the cold, cooked rice into the heated wok, along with the pineapple chunks, juice and raisins. Cook on medium-high fire, as you scoop, stir, flip, and press the rice to break up any clumps and to cook it evenly (see tip above).
4. Add curry powder, soy sauce, salt and white pepper (and belacan, if using), and stir-fry thoroughly on medium-high heat until the ingredients are well combined. Taste and adjust seasonings.
5. Throw in roasted cashews and the cooked shrimp. Crank the heat to high, and stir constantly to mix all the ingredients. Cook for just one minute.
6. Serve fried rice in pineapple shells. Garnish with spring onion, cilantro and/or sliced red chilies.